Review: Toyota Sequoia becomes a hybrid 3-row for 2023
The Toyota Sequoia enters its third generation with the 2023 model year, boasting an all-new design. A hybrid powertrain is now standard and the thirsty V8 it used previously is now gone. A few quirks common to full-sized Toyota SUVs still remain, but the Sequoia is now much improved.
At a Glance
- New hybrid powertrain called iForce Max
- Standard features list is long and full
- Wonky third row remains an issue
The outgoing second-generation Sequoia was introduced in 2008, so change was very much needed for Toyota’s best-selling, full-sized, truck-based SUV. This new design brings a change in appearance, a lot of interior improvements, and the introduction of hybrid powertrains as default.
The first thing to be noticed is the exterior design for the 2023 Sequoia. It’s now a bit blockier and designed to fit in with Toyota’s pickup truck lineup instead of masquerading as a smaller sport utility. The Sequoia is a large SUV and pretending it’s not would be ridiculous. Instead, Toyota’s design team seemed to be aiming to emphasize the Sequoia’s truck roots.
Headlamps, grille size, and bodywork are very similar to that found on the Tundra. Half-trapezoids created by lighting shape and fender cuts dominate the edges, while a strong, straight cut at the bottom of the door panels adds emphasis to the ground clearance below.
Inside, the Sequoia also takes many notes from the Tundra, having large seats and spaciousness as a theme. The seating in the Sequoia is more refined towards comfort, though, with a better feel for those sitting in them – especially in the front or the optional captain’s chairs in the second row. The third row, however, still feels like an afterthought.
As with many Toyota SUV models of the past, the Sequoia’s third row isn’t very comfortable and hogs a lot of valuable space in the cargo area. Where they used to fold up to the sides, as in the Land Cruiser and LX 450, they now just sit atop the cargo space by a good eight inches (20 cm), disturbing what would be a flat loading floor. Kids and child-sized adults can sit in them, but most people will not be happy being relegated to that passenger space for long.
Big changes come under the hood as well. A 3.4-liter turbocharged V6 mates with electric motors and a 10-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard in most models and four-wheel drive is optional. Our TRD Pro test model included 4WD as standard. This setup is the same as the iForce Max drivetrain for the Tundra, with which the Sequoia also shares a chassis platform. The hybrid setup provides 437 hp (326 kW) and 538 lb-ft (729.5 Nm) of torque.
The electric motors help the power ramp happen quicker and make up for the usual lag associated with turbo’d engines. They also add some efficiency, boosting the Sequoia to 24 mpg (9.8 l/100km) on the highway and an impressive 21 mpg (11.2 l/100km) in the city. Those are vast improvements over the teenaged mpg returns of the previous generation Sequoia.
Trim flavors for the 2023 Sequoia start with the SR5 model, which has a lot of equipment included as standard. This includes heated and power-folding side mirrors, functional roof rails, tri-zone climate control, a 360-degree camera, an 8-inch touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and a full suite of advanced safety equipment via the Toyota Safety Sense system. After the SR5 comes the Limited, Platinum, TRD Pro, and Capstone models. Each adding more and more comfort, convenience, and aesthetic upgrades.
The TRD Pro model, however, changes course from adding luxury and instead adds off-road equipment. Wheels downsize from the 20-inch and 22-inch standard on everything but the SR5 to 18-inch wheels capable of handling much more aggressive all-terrain rubber. The engine gets a little treatment with better intake and exhaust flow, which mostly serve to add more sound. Four-wheel drive is standard and an electronic locking rear differential is also added.
The Sequoia TRD Pro also gets Toyota Racing Development skid plates, front stabilizer bar, and leather upholstery with improved bolstering. Fox coilover shocks and remote-reservoir shocks (rear) are also added. A blacked grille and integrated light bar are also added with the TRD Pro package.
Although the TRD Pro upgrades don’t improve the ground clearance or ride height of the Sequoia, they do improve its capabilities off the pavement enough to make this an off-road SUV worthy of the title. The Sequoia TRD Pro is on par with most off-road-oriented full-sized SUV options now on the market. It won’t climb rocks at Moab or necessarily win the Dakar as-is, but it’s much better for more difficult trails, mud, and such than are the standard Sequoia models.
We drove the 2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro as a daily driver for about a week. It participated in family hauling, grocery-getting, and short road trips. We also took it off-road in one of our favorite locations in Wyoming and found it to be competent and capable.
With its strong towing capacity, large interior space, and long list of capabilities, the Sequoia makes for a great truck-based SUV. But it competes in an arena where a lot of solid options are available. Most of which have better cargo space, a more useful third row, and similar off-road options. The wonky third row of the 2023 Sequoia really messes up what would otherwise be a top choice for large sport utilities.
Product Page: 2023 Toyota Sequoia