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2023 Toyota Sequoia First Drive Review: Next Generation Of Power & Strength

Image Source: quiggyt4 / Shutterstock

The last time the Toyota Sequoia received a redesign was all the way back in 2008, but now 14 years later, Toyota has finally given the its full size SUV a major revamp. Just like before, the Sequoia is based on the same platform as the Tundra and this time, the Sequoia and Tundra are nearly identical from the A-pillar forward and the interior also looks similar to truck.

The Sequoia switches to a new body-on-frame chassis with a fully boxed frame that’s used by the Tundra and, new Land Cruiser the Lexus LX. According to Toyota, “the core objective of this platform is to provide excellent handling, supreme comfort and impressive capability.” The better handling is taken care of thanks to a new rack-mounted electronic power steering system and a multi-link rear suspension. An air suspension is also optional.

Under the hood there’s only one engine available, the twin-turbo V6 hybrid i-Force Max, which has been borrowed from the Tundra. It generates 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque and is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The outgoing 5.7-liter V8 only had 381 hp and 401 lb-ft. The powertrain also features a motor generator between the V6 engine and the transmission. The EPA hasn’t released its mpg estimates for the 2023 Sequoia, but Toyota expects a big improvement over its predecessor thanks to the new hybrid powertrain. The electric motor has the ability to power the Sequoia alone under 18 mph, which is sure to improve the city and combined ratings.

Some of us still miss a big block V8, but in this case, the twin-turbo V6 is easily up for the task of getting the new Sequoia down the road thanks to all that extra power. Just like in the Tundra, the powertrain has a level of refinement that was missing from the old V8. The powertrain packs a nice punch and an even better soundtrack. The Sequoia is also more capable with up to a 9,520 pound tow rating, which puts it on par with the Ford Expedition and slightly under the Jeep Grand Wagoneer. The extra attention that Toyota paid to the steering and suspension is noticeable with good steering feedback and a composed ride with little body roll. We did notice that the suspension can be a bit choppy on less refined roads.

The Sequoia features three drive modes: Eco, Normal and Sport. If you add the Load-Leveling Rear Height Control Air Suspension and Adaptive Variable Suspension, the available drive modes increase with Comfort, Sport S+ and Custom modes. There’s also a tow/ haul mode which makes the best use of the electric and V6 engine at all times.

If hitting the trails is your thing, the Sequoia is available with four-wheel drive. Toyota also throws in other additions, like a selectable locking rear differential, Multi-Terrain Select system, and Downhill Assist Control. There’s also the awesome Crawl Control system that basically functions like an off-road cruise control at low speeds in 4WD Low. For those that love going off-roading, you can add the TRD Off-Road to the SR5 and Limited 4×4 models or there’s the more hardcore TRD Pro version with its FOX internal bypass shocks and 1/4-inch aluminum TRD front skid plate.

Inside the Sequoia’s interior is spacious with three rows of seats. Lower trim levels come with a full bench seat for the second row, while upper trim levels feature Captain’s chairs. There’s ample room in the second and third row seats, with the third row getting a new sliding feature that can move up to six inches forward or back depending on if you want more legroom or cargo space. Speaking of cargo space, there’s a new cargo shelf system that can help you better organize all your gear. Plus with the third row up, there’s still room for up to four suitcases.

If luxury is your thing, you’ll want to check out the Sequoia Capstone with its semi-aniline leather seats, open pore wood trim, LED mood lighting and acoustic glass in the front doors.

At the front there’s a new 12.3-inch digital instrument display and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system. For buyers that want the latest and greatest, there’s an available 14-inch touchscreen. On the safety front, the Sequoia comes standard with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 suite, which includes automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, steering assist, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, parking sensors and automatic high beams. The Sequoia also comes standard with rear seat reminder system to alert the driver of a child or pet left in the vehicle.

The 2023 Toyota Sequoia is available in five trim levels: SR5, Limited, Platinum, TRD Pro and Capstone. The pricing starts at $58,300, while the TRD Pro version is priced at $76,900 and the Capstone at $75,300. The most expensive version is the 4×4 Capstone that starts at $78,300.

It’s crazy that we haven’t received a new Sequoia in 14 years, but the new third generation is a significant improvement over its predecessor. It looks great, the new powertrain is not only more powerful, but also more efficient and the spacious interior has room for the whole family.

Image Source: quiggyt4 / Shutterstock

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