After the U.S. sales numbers for 2021 were totaled up, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda broke out into what he described as his “happy dance” because his company had captured sales leadership in the U.S. from archrival General Motors.
But GM recaptured the sales lead in 2022, and Toyota’s ambition for a bigger share of the U.S. — recently highlighted in the obituaries marking the passing of Shoichiro Toyoda, who pushed the company into the U.S. market — appears to have been thwarted by the enduring hold of Detroit’s automakers on the full-size truck and large SUV segments.
But that does not mean Toyota is giving up and it is borrowing from the success of the midsized Tacoma TRD, in hopes of expanding further with the 2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro. The new model is clearly built to go head-to-head with the light-duty trucks and big SUVs from Detroit that rule rural landscapes the length and breadth of the U.S.
The Sequoia TRD comes to the market with plenty of horsepower, a rugged appearance and features meant for helping navigate the American outback just like the vehicles from Ford, Chevrolet, Ram and Jeep, which are outfitted for off-road travel.
It is also equipped with advanced driver assistance features, connectivity and multiple screens to help keep the driver and the vehicle in touch with its surroundings and the outside world. No one is ever going to call this vehicle sleek or charming, but it is capable of making its rivals sit up and take notice.
The Sequoia TRD starts out shaped like a normal two-box utility vehicle. But Toyota’s stylists and engineers have grabbed hold of it, working the details so it presents a rugged face to the world. The front fascia is bold and aggressive with an imposing grille and light fixtures, including a LED lightbar.
The rear liftgate has been given a rough-and-tumble appearance as well as practical looking roof rails on the top of the vehicle add to its look. The wheel openings have been enlarged to accommodate the 18-inch, forged aluminum wheels and big tires needed for off-road travel. The elements combine in one daunting package, which in every way appears ready made for overland adventure.
The interior of the 2023 Sequoia TRD Pro also has been designed for off-road travel with an interior that can be cleaned of mud or snow quickly. It seems laid out for utility rather than comfort — but it grows on you.
It has a large 14-inch screen in the center stack to help with navigation in unfamiliar territory. The center console also has room for storing small items or even lunch. The Sequoia is equipped with three-rows of seating, but the TRD Pro is equipped with a power folding seat and an adjustable cargo shelf. The liftgate also come with flip-up glass. Given the command seating position, visibility is generally very good but unfortunately the oversized exterior mirrors with which the vehicle is equipped reduced the visibility while making a lefthand turn.
The 2023 Sequoia powertrain is built around a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 and a 24-volt electric motor-generator and a 10-speed automatic transmission. It also has a drive-mode selector, all-wheel drive on demand with an electronic transfer case and rear differential. There also is a TRD aluminum skid plate.
The drivetrain in the Sequoia TRD Pro produces 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given the 2023 Sequoia TRD Pro a combined fuel economy rating of 20 mpg, including 19 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.
Safety and Technology
Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 with pre-collision alert and pedestrian detection is standard on the 2023 Sequoia TRD as is dynamic cruise control. It also has lane departure alert with steering assist and lane tracing, automatic high beam, and road sign recognition.
It also comes with 14-inch multi-media screen compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as a JBL sound system with 14 speakers and satellite radio connection. It is equipped with Bluetooth, surround-view camera, blind-spot monitor and back-up camera. For a nice comforting experience, there are heated and ventilated seats.
Drivers of the 2023 Sequoia TRD Pro have plenty of power and torque at their command out on the highway or in ordinary traffic and it comes into play quickly thanks to the well-honed, 10-speed transmission that never seems to miss a beat, while passing or going around a corner or uphill.
The steering and brakes are adequate, but the ride and handling are very impressive thanks to the TRD-tuned suspension, which keeps the vehicles bulk under tight control. I did not have a chance to take the vehicle on a genuine off-road course. But the suspension easily leveled out the unpaved, dirt roads not far from my house in suburban Detroit, which have been pretty well chewed up by winter weather.
2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro Specifications
|Dimension||L: 208.1 inches/W: 79.8 inches/H: 74.5 inches/Wheelbase: 122 inches|
|Powertrain||3.4-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine; 10-speed automatic transmission with four-wheel drive|
|Fuel Economy||19 mpg city/22 mpg highway/20 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $58,361; As tested: $80,291 including $1,595 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
Toyota has never given up on the light-duty truck and full-size SUV market. The automaker put a lot of engineering and styling talent behind the 2023 Sequoia TRD Pro and the results are impressive.
The 2023 Sequoia TRD Pro seems quite capable of filling the needs of drivers whose family lives their lives on and off-road and it is roomy enough to carry as many as seven passengers to a favorite hideaway. It also seems roomy enough for an individual who wants to pack enough gear to get away from it all for a long spell.
2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro — Frequently Asked Questions
Can you tow a trailer with the 2023 Toyota Sequoia?
Drivers will find the Sequoia in two-wheel drive or the available part-time four-wheel drive system on SR5, Limited, Platinum and Capstone grades. The TRD Pro model will be offered only in four-wheel drive. For those who feel intimidated towing a trailer in anything other than a truck, the 2023 Sequoia is here to dispel that fear.
What are the trim levels of the Toyota Sequoia?
The Sequoia comes in five trim levels: SR5, Limited, Platinum, TRD Pro and Capstone. All of them come with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 suite of tech, heated seats, a moonroof, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and panoramic-view camera system.
What does the Toyota Sequoia TRD Sport look like?
Built in collaboration with the team at Toyota Racing Development (TRD), the Sequoia TRD Sport features features LED headlights, a gloss-black grille with chrome surround, 20-inch black alloy wheels and a TRD-tuned suspension.