Toyota's largest SUV, the Sequoia, is all-new for 2023. Riding the same chassis and sharing engines with the Tundra pickup, Sequoia remains a body-on-frame full-size SUV. Though exterior dimensions remain similar, changes include fresh styling inside and out, an independent front suspension, additional features and, for the first time ever, a hybrid powertrain. Sequoia competes with the Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition, Jeep Wagoneer, and Nissan Armada.
Trim levels include SR5, Limited, Platinum, TRD Pro, and Capstone. All get a turbocharged 3.4-liter V6 engine that pairs with electric motors to produce 437 horsepower and 538 ft-lb of torque. Sole transmission is a 10-speed automatic. Rear-wheel drive is standard on all trims except for the TRD Pro. Standard on the Pro and optional on others is a full-time four-wheel-drive system with a low range. Maximum towing capacity is 10,000 pounds.
Prices start at $59,000 and climb to $78,000. Standard safety features include forward-collision warning with brake assist, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning with mitigation, automatic high beams, road-sign recognition, and blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert. Also standard are LED headlights, heated and power-folding mirrors, roof rails, 3-zone climate control, heated front seats, power moonroof, push-button start with hands-free keyless entry, and front and rear parking sensors.
Sequoia comes standard with Toyota's new iForce MAX Hybrid powertrain. Replacing a V8, the new engine makes 56 more horsepower and 57 lb-ft more torque. The gain is immediately noticeable as the new powertrain pushes the Sequoia from 0 to 60 MPH in 5.6 seconds. That is faster than just about everything in the class. The engine isn't the most impressive sounding, but the transmission is buttery smooth and it cruises quietly enough.
Despite making more power, the new engine is more fuel efficient. Where the old engine netted out at 13 MPG city and 17 MPG on the EPA test, the new hybrid powertrain posts EPA number of 19 MPG city and 22 MPG highway. That's a significant gain and translates in the real world as well, with a likely suburban commute average of about 20 MPG overall. Like most competitors in the class, regular-grade fuel is okay.
Sequoia's four-wheel-drive system is a true off-road ready system. It's got a low range and several terrain modes for serious rock climbing. However, if you are serious about going off into the wilderness, you might want to consider the TRD Pro, which adds Fox dampers, front skid plate, locking rear differential, and 18-inch wheels with 33-inch tires.
From behind the wheel there's no denying Sequoia is a large vehicle. It's very wide and tall. No more so than a Tahoe or Expedition, however, somehow those vehicles seem to be a little more manageable. The Sequoia's ride is comfortable for the most part, though TRD Pro and Capstone models ride more firmly. The suspension does an excellent job of filtering out big impacts and provides a comfortable and pleasant highway ride.
Dynamically, Sequoia isn't the most athletic offering the class. The steering is very light and lacks any road feel. There's a fair amount of body lean in quick transitions and hard braking induces plenty of squat.
Interior noise levels are quite low, with barely a whisper of wind noise at highway speed and an engine that cruises silently.
Inside, interior trimmings run the gamut from cloth to leather upholstery and varying levels of wood and chrome trim as you walk up the lineup. The overall design is pleasant with great access to controls and a straightforward layout. Build quality is good. Drivers face an all-digital instrument cluster that's sharp and easy to read. Though configurable, there are some oddities in display options. The center stack features either an 8-inch or 14-inch touchscreen infotainment screen with independent controls for audio and climate systems. Another nice touch is a beefy steering wheel with lots of ancillary controls.
The Sequoias interior is large, but not quite as roomy as Tahoe or Expedition. Still, there's good room in the first and second rows. Seating options include a three-place second-row bench or captain's chairs for 7- or 8-passenger capacity. The front seats are quite comfortable and provide good support. Same for second-row seats. Third-row is confined to child or occasional adult use. There's quite a step up into the interior, but the door openings are wide and there are plenty of grab handles. Outward visibility is fair, though thick pillars block the view to the rear.
From a safety feature and technology standpoint, Sequioa has made huge leaps forward. All of the safety system perform admirably and the 14-inch touchscreen that is standard in all but the SR5 is impressively sharp and large. Toyota takes a slightly different approach, trying to get owners to log into their infotainment system for better customization. It's a useful feature if used properly, but also somewhat confusing at first. Still, all the tech features are there including lots of USB ports and a wireless charging tray.
As you might expect, cargo capacity trails vehicles like the Tahoe and Expedition. Behind the rear seats, there's just 12 cubic feet of space. Folding the third row generates 50 cubic feet and all seats folded Sequoia offers 87 cubic feet. More frustrating is the fact that the rear seats don't fold flat and create a very uneven load floor. One nice touch is a separate opening hatch glass.
Bottom Line -- Sequoia goes from also-ran to a top pick in the large SUV class with the 2023 redesign. Positives include a peppy and frugal powertrain, well designed interior and comfortable and quiet ride. On the flip side, there's not quite as much passenger room as you might expect and prices are on the high side.