With the demise of the old Toyota Land Cruiser, the Sequoia becomes the brand’s biggest and most capable SUV. The good news for potential buyers is the full-size model has gone through a complete makeover for 2023, with much of its underpinnings borrowed from the Toyota Tundra pickup — which recently went through its own major update.
One of the most significant developments is the switch to Toyota’s highly capable iForce Max hybrid powertrain. It delivers improved performance, as well as a big bump in fuel economy — something likely to matter to full-size SUV buyers at a time when fuel prices are setting one new record after another.
To get a feel for the 2023 Toyota Sequoia, I headed down to Dallas for a day behind the wheel, clocking plenty of mileage both on and off the road.
The third-generation Sequoia gets a complete, ground-up makeover in line with the expanded role the utility vehicle will play in the Toyota line-up. It now will serve as the brand’s SUV flagship, what with the demise of the aforementioned Land Cruiser.
Buyers will have more options to choose from with the launch of the 2023 Toyota Sequoia, including a new premium edition, the Capstone. A Sequoia TRD Pro package will be the alternative for those looking for real off-road capabilities.
For those U.S. buyers who might lament the loss of the Land Cruiser, the good news is that the 2023 Sequoia shares the same underpinnings as the redesigned Land Cruiser sold in overseas markets. With minor modifications, the body-on-frame platform also underpins the new Lexus LX 600, as well as the completely updated 2022 Toyota Tundra pickup.
And, like the Tundra, the 2023 Sequoia will get the automaker’s new iForce Max hybrid drivetrain. It’s no Prius, but it’s expected to yield substantially better fuel economy than the old SUV managed.
Toyota contends this is one tough beast — as it says in an Easter egg you’ll find at the base of the windshield. For those who know Morse code, it’s a series a dots and dashes spelling out “Badass Trucks.”
The new Sequoia measures in at 208.1 inches in overall length, with a wheelbase of 122 inches, a width of 79.6 inches and a height ranging from 74.2 to 77.7 inches, depending upon trim. Ground clearance also varies by model — and by drivetrain. With 4×2 packages, it’s 8.6 inches. The 4×4 packages have a clearance of 8.7 inches, except the 4×4-only Sequoia TRD Pro where it’s 9.1 inches.
If you’ve seen the new Toyota Tundra, the 2023 Sequoia should seem familiar since they share not only the underlying body-on-frame chassis but also their doors, front quarter panels and hood.
The looks of the 2023 Sequoia won’t come as a shock to previous owners. It offers a more classic SUV shape than crossover-based Toyota models, such as the Highlander. But it does deliver a bit more of a modern, streamlined appearance than the outgoing Sequoia, capped by a more massive grille and headlamps that flow into the front quarter panels.
There are subtle differences in the front end of each different package, most readily seen with their grille finishes. The top-of-the-line Sequoia Capstone gets a chrome-accented mesh grille and also features unique front lighting, chrome-plated mirror caps, auto-deploying power running boards and 22-inch dark chrome machine-finished alloy wheels.
The TRD Pro, at the other extreme, adds a grille-mounted light bar and underbody protection. And its nose and rear end ride higher to make it easier to take to the trails. It doesn’t get the full 1.5-inch lift of the Tundra TRD Pro. But the new Sequoia boasts a 23-degree approach angle and a 20-degree departure angle.
Available only in a three-row configuration, Sequoia comes in a seven-passenger package or, with a mid-row bench, room for eight. The back row, incidentally, can slide fore or aft by up to 6 inches.
According to Toyota, cargo space was the most common complaint lodged by prior-generation Sequoia owners. The new layout bumps that up to 22.3 cubic feet behind the third row, with a maximum 86.9 cf with the back and middle rows folded down. Another plus is the new adjustable cargo shelf system which makes it easy to stack luggage or other goods. When not in use, the shelving folds flat atop the main load floor.
As has become the norm in the full-size SUV market, the 2023 Sequoia moves a bit more up-market, even in base SR5 trim. But nowhere is that more apparent than with the Capstone edition. It adds semi-aniline seating with contrast stitching and heated and ventilated front and rear seats. It’s done up in American walnut veneer and offers an array of technologies, including a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, a 10-inch head-up display and a 14-inch infotainment touchscreen with Toyota’s latest multimedia interface.
Lower trim packages feature an 8-inch touchscreen with a more basic infotainment interface.
With the launch of the 2023 makeover, Sequoia becomes the fourth Toyota model offered only with a hybrid drivetrain. But this is no Prius. The iForce Max is shared with the latest version of the Toyota Tundra — where it is the most powerful engine option.
The iForce Max pairs a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 with an electric motor to deliver 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque. Power is directed through a 10-speed automatic and buyers get a choice of rear-wheel or all-wheel-drive — the latter available as a $3,000 option. (The exception is the TRD Pro model which is available only as a 4×4.)
The drivetrain packs a hefty wallop and, among other things, can handle a trailer of up to 9,520 pounds, depending on the trim package.
Depending upon the package, the new Sequoia features a 2-speed transfer case and either an automatic or electronically controlled limited-slip differrential (e-LSD).
Toyota doesn’t plan to release EPA mileage numbers until closer to the new Sequoia’s on-sale date this coming autumn. But it is widely expected to deliver at least 20 mpg combined. The outgoing model managed a mere 13 mpg city, 17 highway and 14 combined. During my own drive I managed to get about 19 mpg.
Safety and Technology
Base Sequoias come with an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen. The upgraded 14-inch infotainment system — standard on Capstone and other premium packages — features the new Toyota Audio Multimedia interface with its Amazon Alexa-style voice assistant. Simply say, “Hey, Toyota,” and it responds to plain English commands.
Wireless CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless Qi smartphone charging and a WiFi hotspot also are available — and standard on the Capstone.
The 2023 Toyota Sequoia also adds active cruise control and the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 suite of advanced driver assistance systems, depending upon trim.
I spent a long day behind the wheel of several different Sequoia models, starting out with the Capstone edition, which I drove from Toyota’s suburban Dallas headquarters to the Eagle Canyon Raceway nearly 60 miles to the west.
The iForce Max is an impressive drivetrain offering plenty of grunt, especially when trying to keep up with fast-moving Texas freeway traffic. It’s more than capable of making an easy 90-mile per hour pass, the hybrid V-6 issuing a menacing exhaust rumble. At cruising speeds you might forget you’re in a high-riding SUV, especially in the Capstone which adds acoustic noise-reducing glass.
Out in cattle country I had the chance to hitch a 2023 Toyota Sequoia Limited up to a 5,000-pound Airstream trailer. The hybrid drivetrain had no trouble keeping up with traffic. But the Sequoia suffered from a surprising amount of trailer sway, despite its anti-sway feature. It proved the only serious complaint I had all day.
On the plus side, the Sequoia I drove featured multiple cameras and other features that made it easier to hitch up and back up a trailer as big as the Airstream.
My day wrapped up with a run on the track’s back 40, set up with a moderately challenging off-road course. There, a TRD Pro made child’s play of uneven surfaces, as well as a rock climb and a water hazard. I was particularly impressed with the way the e-LSD and suspension kept the SUV pointed in the right direction, even when flogging it on a tight, high-speed dirt trail.
2023 Toyota Sequoia Specifications
|Dimension||L: 208.1 inches/W: 79.6 inches/H: 77.7 inches/Wheelbase: 122 inches|
|Powertrain||3.5-liter, twin turbo 6-cylinder w/electric motor; 10-speed automatic|
|Performance Specs||437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $58,300; As tested: $75,300; plus destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
There’s a big market for full-size SUVs out there, and Toyota is clearly hoping to take advantage of it with the launch of the 2023 Sequoia. It’s a big improvement over the outgoing model, with only a few things to grumble about. It features more power, more towing capacity, improved fuel economy, more creature comforts and some impressive technology.
Toyota is betting this will help it triple recent sales, albeit from a small base. The old Sequoia simply sat around too long with too little in the way of updates.
Whether it can live up to those high hopes remains to be seen. The 2023 makeover goes up against some tough competition like the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, the Ford Expedition as well as the new Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer models — the latter pair offered in both standard and extended length.
Toyota also will be asking buyers to cough up a lot more cash. The base 2023 SR5 now starts at $58,300 — before delivery fees — compared with $50,500 for the outgoing model. Add to that $3,000 for the 4×4 package. The Capstone comes in at $75,300. Of course, you get a lot more for your money with the new Sequoia.
Look for the big SUV to start rolling into showrooms this coming autumn. But you might have to look hard to find one you can buy. With the ongoing semiconductor shortage, Toyota dealers have almost no inventory in stock and that isn’t likely to improve much until well into 2023.
2023 Toyota Sequoia — Frequently Asked Questions
Will the 2023 Toyota Sequoia be redesigned?
The 2023 Toyota Sequoia went through a complete makeover for the 2023 model-year. The new model shares its underlying platform – and much of its sheet metal with the 2023 Toyota Tundra pickup.
Is the Toyota Sequoia a reliable truck?
While not at the top of the reliability list for the Toyota brand, Sequoia is, nonetheless, as one of the better models in the full-size SUV segment, according to a variety of different studies.
What is the mpg for the 2023 Toyota Sequoia?
The automaker doesn’t plan to release final EPA ratings until shortly before the all-new Sequoia goes on sale in autumn 2022 — but it is widely expected to get about 20 mpg combined, up from 17 with the outgoing SUV thanks to a switch to Toyota’s new iForce Max hybrid V-6 powertrain.