Toyota’s Sequoia TRD Pro
My colleagues at txGarage have done a nice job taking an overall look at the all-new third-generation 2023 Toyota Sequoia, manufactured in San Antonio at the Toyota assembly plant beside the Tundra. The second-generation Sequoia stuck around for almost fifteen years, which made it beyond ancient in today’s automotive world. But now, the new, bigger-than-life Sequoia is here. And – to channel one of the better Seinfeld episodes – IT IS MAGNIFICENT. While those colleagues provided a bird’s eye view of Toyota’s biggest SUV, I was given the opportunity to test drive the Sequoia guaranteed to get you safely through a zombie apocalypse.
A few weeks ago, I test drove a Solar Octane (think neon orange) 2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro that arrived with a $80,500 price tag. That bright orange color attracted comments from nearly everyone that walked by; most were very complimentary. It’s not a color choice I might have made, but the new Sequoia handles it well.
The days of the massive and ultra thirsty Toyota 5.7 liter V8 engine that powered the 2nd-gen Sequoia are gone. The new Sequoia is powered by an innovative 437 hp, twin-turbo V6 hybrid i-FORCE MAX engine. I’m not an engineer so I can’t explain the inner details of how the new engine works, but here’s the Toyota press release: “The i-FORCE MAX is a cleverly engineered powertrain featuring a unique motor generator within the bell housing between the twin-turbo engine and the 10-speed automatic transmission.” (You don’t have to take notes…it’s right here!)
The new engine is mated to a ten-speed transmission that claims better fuel economy over the previous Sequoia, but that’s an easy claim to make. EPA estimates for the Sequoia TRD Pro are 19 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway; I averaged closer to 15 mpg tooling around town and struggled to hit 20 mpg on the highway.
Although the TRD Pro is billed as an off-road beast, its interior amenities are comparable to luxury vehicles. Second row captain’s chairs are standard along with a heated steering wheel. There are TRD logo accents galore, both on the seats and on the shift knob.
If you really are itching to take your $80K Sequoia off-road, no worries – it’s loaded with features to make sure you get back safely. TRD-tuned FOX internal bypass shocks offer a smooth on-road ride, but most importantly they can confidently handle off-road terrain when the trail gets rough. A 1/4-inch aluminum TRD front skid plate offers added trail protection. Sequoia TRD Pro also offers additional trail capability with a standard selectable locking rear differential, Multi-Terrain Select, CRAWL Control and Downhill Assist Control.
Giant, knobby P285/65R18, 33-inch Falken Wildpeak tires complete the exterior package. On road, the new Sequoia handles beautifully even with the big tires, although the road noise can be a bit much. But that’s where the JBL Premium Audio system with 14 speakers comes in handy. Just crank up the volume to 11 and drown out the rest of the world. The 14-inch touchscreen that controls the all-new Toyota Audio Multimedia system at first seemed excessive, but won me over during my week-long test drive.
I was particularly grateful that all new Sequoia trim levels come standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5. This active safety package includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection that features multiple enhancements over the previous generation, including not only detecting the vehicle ahead but also a pedestrian in low light, bicyclist in daytime, an oncoming vehicle and a pedestrian at intersections when making a turn. At intersections, the system is designed to detect an oncoming vehicle or pedestrian when performing a left-hand turn and provide audio/visual alerts and automatic braking in certain conditions. Emergency steering assist is an additional function designed to detect pedestrians and stabilize the driver’s emergency evasive steering maneuvers and help prevent lane departure.
The Sequoia’s tall stance frequently makes it difficult to see smaller, lower-to-the-road sedans, making Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 a literal life saver. I always – I mean always – checked the side mirror blind spot monitors whenever I changed lanes.
Not sure how many new Sequoia TRD Pro buyers will venture far off the beaten path with their new – and pricey – SUV. But I do expect they will be ideal vehicles when competing for that spot at any school carpool lane.