The Toyota Sequoia was once thought to be a stepchild of the brand as it held its place without getting much attention. However, those who got to know the Sequoia were mostly pleased with all that it had to offer for a proven large body-on-frame SUV with some off-roading chops that didn’t overshadow its road-going appeasement. Embarking on its new third-generation redesign, the Toyota Sequoia gets closer to its Tundra sibling in design and offerings, where all Sequoias are now hybrid vehicles with several trim levels serving up rugged abilities but gaining a newfound recognition for its versatility in a large SUV package.
Toyota has changed things up in their SUV line where the Land Cruise can no longer be had in the USA. Instead, the new Sequoia partly fills that gap with several trim levels, including the Sequoia TRD Pro that I experienced this week. The new style of the Toyota Sequoia mostly mimics the new Tundra, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, the style may be somewhat of an acquired taste for some depending on the trim level, where there are unique grille designs that can make or break the Sequoia in the looks department depending on your reception for large SUVs. The TRD Pro takes on a unique look with camo-styled darkened fender flares, BBS forged TRD 18-inch wheels wrapped by 33-inch Falken Wildpeak all-terrain tires, a wind-noise-inducing roof platform rack, a large underbody front TRD skid plate, and the availability of this eye-popping Solar Octane exterior paint color on my test vehicle.
The new 2023 Toyota Sequoia is exclusively a hybrid where it uses the higher trim level Tundra’s twin-turbo V6 engine coupled with an electric motor to produce a total of 437 horsepower and 583 lb-ft of torque. That power is sent through a 10-speed automatic transmission, and there is only the option to power the rear wheels on the highway or switch to either a four-wheel-drive high or four-low drive setting designated for off-roading via the part-time 4WD system.
The power of the new Toyota Sequoia is strong and hardly ever leaves you wanting more. There’s a neat way of the electric motor acting as a power filler in many cases and giving the Sequoia a nice kick of torque throughout the power band, enabling the big SUV to get up to 60 mph in about 6.3 seconds. On the road, the Sequoia TRD Pro surprisingly feels nicely planted with a smooth overall ride quality despite the higher ground clearance and a trick suspension that’s tuned to handle off-roading duties. The FOX shocks, with their large reservoirs, feel quite adaptive to different surfaces where ride quality isn’t sacrificed or tuned just for one purpose. Fundamentally, the Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro is easy to drive if you get used to the rather high and squared-off hood, often forcing you to use the 360-degree camera system with additional sight views to navigate questionable terrain. Most of the Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro’s 6,150 pounds feel like it is hidden where the Sequoia hardly ever feels sloppy or out of control.
Towing is still a thing in the Sequoia TRD Pro, where you can tow up to 9,020 pounds, which is only 500 pounds less than a 2WD-only non-TRD Pro model. The large side review mirrors can be power-extended for better rearward visibility when towing. However, the mirrors, even in their normal position, take a while to get used to as they block some of your side views. Use of the Multi-Terrain Select traction modes and crawl control enable the Sequoia TRD Pro to master challenging terrain coupled with the unique suspension setup and all-terrain tires. I see the new Sequoia having no issues competing well with its competition from many newcomers to the off-roading large SUV scene.
As a hybrid, the new Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro has a consistent basis for fuel consumption matching the EPA estimates of 19 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined in the real world. The start-stop system, along with the gas-engine and electric motor transitions, are mostly seamless. However, in the Sequoia TRD Pro, the engine starts are more noticeable than what I experienced in the Toyota Tundra Capstone, mostly due to the Sequoia TRD Pro having a TRD exhaust that attempts to give the twin-turbo V6 a mean growl – but there’s only so much you can do to make a V6 sound good.
The new 2023 Toyota Sequoia elevates its sophistication naturally, but the overall feel inside remains to be contemporary with somewhat of an archaic feel, which I attribute to the tradition of Toyota keeping true to using proven equipment for its durability and reliability. Some of that feeling carries through the new digital gauge cluster that uses basic-looking graphics along with the toggle switches, knobs, and buttons, all having a rugged feeling. Where the tech feels more modernized is in the large 14-inch infotainment touchscreen, which has a simplistic approach to its operation with select core functions that take up the full screen. It’s here that I’ve explained that Toyota could have made better use of the large screen real estate with split screen functions, but you’re left with using one core function at a time, which isn’t all that bad in most cases.
The integration of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto works well, as does the infotainment’s response and natural voice commands.
There’s a decent amount of hard plastic throughout the interior, but that rests with the Sequoia retaining its rugged approach, which replicates what you find in similar new Tundra trims. The Sequoia TRD Pro trim, just like in the new Tundra TRD Pro, has unique camo-styled seats with heating and ventilation up front. The second-row captain’s chairs are comfy but lack heating or ventilation, which is found only in the Sequoia Platinum or Capstone trims. The third-row seats, with legitimate room for three passengers, are easily accessed through the second-row seats performing a pneumatic two-step folding action. The only downfall I find out back is the third row has limited headroom and proves to be in a strange positioning, which does not fold completely flat for extra cargo room.
Cargo space is mostly what you expect in such a large SUV, but not allowing the third row to fold flat takes up a bit of space. Leaving the seats in place you have just over 22 cubic feet of space, folding the third and second row you have almost 87 cubic feet of storage to work with accessed by the hands-free power liftgate.
Toyota’s latest Safety Sense 2.5 suite includes all of the expected active safety features highlighting full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, front pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert/keeping with steering assist, road sign assist, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic warning and emergency braking, and automatic high-beams that include an exceptionally bright TRD LED lightbar that can be set to come on with your high-beams.
The Toyota Sequoia approaches the large SUV segment on its own terms for the most part, and riding off the expected Toyota reliability and being a hybrid, there’s a built-in premium that some expect, which is mostly found in the higher pricing of the top trim levels. Starting at $58,395, the Toyota Sequoia is at a respected level considering the hybrid powertrain. Moving up to the Sequoia TRD Pro you’re looking at an as-tested price of $80,591, which includes a $1,595 delivery, processing, and handling fee.