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Toyota’s 2023 Sequoia – GO AHEAD. EXPRESS YOURSELF.

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Toyota’s 2023 Sequoia – GO AHEAD. EXPRESS YOURSELF.

Toyota’s 2023 Sequoia

GO AHEAD. EXPRESS YOURSELF.


At holiday get-togethers, most often in California or Washington state, Toyota’s Sequoia has frequently been the go-to loan. As you’d know, there’s a lot to be said for 3-row crossovers when you’re blessed with an abundance of family, and the Sequoia delivered. But there’s also a lot to like about a footprint that’s maneuverable, and relative to the Tahoes, Suburbans and Expeditions I might have used, the Sequoia remained maneuverable…if not exactly tossable. That – of course – was then, and this (as you’d know) is now. The all-new 2023 Sequoia expands the footprint, gives a nod to efficiency, and in what can only be seen as a Faustian bargain, abandons the right-size footprint of the old Sequoia for a can’t-get-it-in-the-garage SUV weighing some three tons.

Of course, the American market has been heading this way since World War II, with but few interruptions, such as when OPEC members turn off the spigot. But to Toyota’s credit, the bigger size still comes with a bump in the estimated fuel economy. In its earlier, V8-only form the EPA estimate for the 4WD Sequoia was 13/17/14, while today’s 3.5 liter twin-turbo V6 with hybrid assist delivers 19 City/22 Hwy/20 Combined, an almost-50% improvement. With a 22.5 gallon fuel tank and that 20 Combined estimate, you should comfortably get 400+ miles on a tankful – unless, of course, you have 25 feet of travel trailer immediately behind you. 

In addition to the new powertrain is a complete rethink of the Sequoia platform, now similar in construction to Toyota’s all-new Tundra and globally available Land Cruiser; it is built – just like the big pickup – in San Antonio, Texas. Of course, when you build something this big you need a plant with its own vast footprint, and Toyota’s facility in San Antonio meets the need. This remains a body-on-frame SUV, which gives the Sequoia the underlying strength for towing and, in TRD Pro form, the durability for real off-roading.

Up top, you’ll find sheetmetal that’s working overtime to effectively erase the model’s earlier anonymity. This is expressive (EXPRESSIVE!) in all caps, with an exclamation point. The Sequoia’s front fascia is the grand opening we’ve come to expect from the Toy store, and like its Tundra counterpart the hood bulges and the fenders flare; the overall impression leaves you thinking Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky would like a thousand of ‘em, capable of surviving anything Russia might toss. If the earlier gen might be described as Chuck Norris, this one’s Charles Atlas. (Look him up!)

Inside, our Platinum trim offers most of what you’d hope from your $80K expenditure. Dominating the dash is the 14-inch multimedia display, which – thankfully – is more intuitive than you’ll initially think. Captain’s chairs are featured in the second row, a mixed blessing when the whole point of three rows is (presumably) to maximize seating. In the third row the Sequoia now provides six inches of fore-and-aft adjustment, allowing plenty of additional room for the predictable growth of your maturing offspring. And their friends.

If there’s a distraction behind the wheel it’s the size of the tow mirrors, which are great when utilizing the Sequoia’s 9,500-pound tow capacity (a 26% improvement over the tow rating of the last-gen Sequoia), not so good when trying to maneuver in traffic; they effectively block a large portion of your forward visibility. If you think you’ll tow large objects (bigger trailers) get them – and if not, don’t.

Under the hood is Toyota’s i-FORCE MAX powertrain. As Toyota reminds us in its press release, the i-FORCE MAX combines an already-powerful twin-turbo V6 and 10-speed automatic with an integrated electric motor. Total output is 437 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and a prodigious 583 lb-ft of torque at a comparatively low 2,400 rpm. And as noted in the earlier test of the big-*ss Tundra, the drivetrain rocks, with a visceral vibe that will get your engine running. And again, the capability is matched with an efficiency that, while you won’t confuse its numbers with that of a Prius, is quite good within the context of 3-row SUVs.

As you’d expect when investing something north of $60K, Toyota now offers a Drive Mode Select, which offers different drive modes depending on driver preference and, of course, which surface you find yourself on. Standard settings include Eco, Normal and Sport, while with the available load-leveling rear air suspension those settings expand to include Comfort, Sport S+ and Custom – pretty much anything your heart and checkbook might desire. Select Sport or Sport S+ settings and the hybrid powertrain enhances the Sequoia’s responsiveness at lower speeds, while the twin-turbo V6 takes over once above 18 miles per hour.

At the end of the week-long drive I was wishing for a platform that came closer to the feel of recent Land Cruisers, which have offered a bigger footprint while driving smaller behind the wheel. And I’d also opt for something more basic in its spec, thereby keeping the transaction in the mid-$60s and not the Platinum’s $80K. With roughly 20% down, that $65K window sticker still leaves you with sixty monthlies of around $1,000 per month. 

It’s all doable, but we’d probably have to delay the Airstream…and I’m not getting any younger.

Boldt, a contributor to outlets such as AutoTrader.com, Kelley Blue Book and Autoblog, brings to his laptop some forty years of experience in automotive retail, journalism and public relations. He is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, The Washington Automotive Press Association and L.A.'s Motor Press Guild. David is the Managing Editor of txGarage, a regular panelist on the AutoNetwork Reports webcast/podcast, and the automotive contributor to Dallas' Katy Trail Weekly.

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