All-New 2023 Toyota Sequoia On Its Way: Here’s What We Want

toyota-sequoia-2023-teaser-001-badge-exterior-red 2023 Toyota Sequoia | Manufacturer image

Having just redesigned its full-size Tundra pickup, Toyota is moving on to redesigning the next-oldest vehicle in its lineup: the full-size, body-on-frame Sequoia SUV. While its styling has changed over the years, the Sequoia’s bones are old; the current-generation Sequoia has been around since the 2008 model year. I was still in college in 2008.

So far, the automaker has only shown a small teaser image of the upcoming 2023 Sequoia, so we polled our staff to find out what we hope the new SUV will bring to the table.

Related: Capstone Course: Toyota Gives 2022 Tundra Another Luxe Grade

Despite its age, the current Sequoia has some good stuff going for it, like great visibility and a third row that can fit grown adults. But as its competitors have been redesigned over the years — sometimes more than once — the Sequoia has lagged behind its class. Toyota has papered over the Sequoia’s age with various special editions and a late facelift, but we’re hoping for more substantial improvements.

What Should Stay

That third-row space and visibility? We still want that.

“Since it’s been so long since there was a noteworthy update to the Sequoia, it may be helpful to note first what Toyota should keep from the ’current’ version,” writes Senior Copy Editor Patrick Masterson. “Third-row space is good for its class, and you can actually fit adults back there. It also has good visibility all around, including out back, with a feature few SUVs in any class incorporate: a power liftgate window.”

Managing Editor Joe Bruzek concurs. “Strengths of the current Sequoia include a cabin that’s not only roomy, but has superior natural visibility that inspires confidence while driving thanks to its tall glass and low beltline,” Bruzer writes. “It’s not a tank impersonator with the high beltline and massive center console of some competitors. I’d like to see those visibility characteristics stick around because it would still be fairly unique in the class.”

“The age-old Sequoia had a roomy third row, something I hope Toyota preserves,” chimes in Assistant Managing Editor Kelsey Mays, “though I’d like to see a little higher seating position versus other full-sizers.”

What We Want

An Interior for the Modern Age

For all our praise of its roominess, the Sequoia has some glaring issues inside: quality and technology.

“I want an interior that doesn’t feel like it should have a Mattel sticker on it somewhere,” writes Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman. In case that needs a translation: Less plastic, please. Senior Research Editor Mike Hanley agrees, saying the new Sequoia “needs a much nicer interior considering its price.”

Improved technology was frequently mentioned as a want, but if the new Tundra’s available 14-inch touchscreen display is any indication, Toyota should have that covered.

And while we do praise the Sequoia for spaciousness, Masterson points out that “families and caregivers might also appreciate a redesign of the Sequoia interior to better accommodate car seats across. For a vehicle as large as it is, the Sequoia still only managed two seats across and a whole load of so-so scores when we last tested it. There’s room, both literal and figurative, for improvement.”

Efficient Power

The stalwart 5.7-liter V-8 in the Sequoia may be a battle-tested engine, but it comes up short in an increasingly important measurement: fuel efficiency.

“The most welcome change would be increased mileage,” Masterson adds. “Even in a class known for impotent fuel economy, the Sequoia’s 14-15 mpg combined is ghastly. People talk about range anxiety with EVs, but a loaded Sequoia is arguably just as bad; replacing the 5.7-liter V-8 and six-speed transmission with the Tundra’s turbo 3.5-liter V-6 and a better variant of the Tundra’s 10-speed ought to help. A hybrid drivetrain might also serve to boost performance and give the Sequoia powertrain options, something it currently lacks, not to mention a leg up on its rivals.”

Mays also mentioned gas mileage as one of his chief concerns, and it’s one of mine, too. If the new Sequoia shares a platform with the new Tundra, hopefully Toyota can give it the Tundra’s hybrid powertrain. That probably won’t lead to mind-blowing fuel economy — it’s still a big, heavy, full-size SUV — but it should push it closer to 20 mpg, at least.

Towing Help

One of the use cases for a full-size, body-on-frame SUV is hauling the entire family around while also towing a heavy load. The current Sequoia could be much better at it.

“Higher towing capacities wouldn’t hurt,” Hanley writes. “The Sequoia currently maxes out at 7,400 pounds for rear-wheel-drive versions, which is on the low end for a full-size SUV.”

It’s not just about capabilities, though. When towing heavy loads, a trailer brake controller is crucial to keep you and nearby drivers safe.

“More than an improved interior, I want an integrated trailer brake controller,” Bragman demands. “The current Sequoia doesn’t have one, not even as part of a trailering package. You have to install one yourself and screw it to the dashboard somewhere. For a vehicle that can tow as much as a Sequoia can, this is a glaring oversight.”

Stop With the Special Editions

Another way Toyota has papered over the Sequoia’s age over the years is by adding a variety of special editions or trims in recent years. Perhaps it’s time for some of those to be culled.

“Let’s also rid ourselves of the TRD and Nightshade variants,” Masterson writes. “Nobody needs or wants these for an SUV like this. Focus instead on ensuring the build quality of the current trims is exemplary. If any trim needs adding, let it be the high-end Capstone that just debuted on the Tundra.”

Surprise and Delight

Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder best sums up our team’s hopes for the Sequoia (and our tendencies toward wordplay).

“What I want is for Toyota to surprise me. I know their people have it in them, but we rarely see it anymore,” Wiesenfelder writes. “The redesigned Tundra is much improved over the previous generation, but it didn’t surprise anyone with innovations or by leapfrogging the competition … or necessarily matching it. Even its hybrid powertrain, which would have been a natural long ago from the hybrid pioneer, was beaten to market (this time) by the Ford F-150 and lacks the latter truck’s robust onboard generator option. Will the Sequoia follow the same playbook, or does it have some tricks up its leaves? (I denounce and reject myself for that.)”

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The all-new 2023 Toyota Sequoia will debut Tuesday at 9:30 PM EST. Stay tuned for our coverage to see how this Sequoia meets our desires — and yours.

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Road Test Editor Brian Normile joined the automotive industry and in 2013 and became part of the Editorial staff in 2014. Brian spent his childhood devouring every car magazine he got his hands on — not literally, eventually — and now reviews and tests vehicles to help consumers make informed choices. Someday, Brian hopes to learn what to do with his hands when he’s reviewing a car on camera, and to turn his 2021 Hyundai Veloster N into a tribute to the great Renault mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive hatchbacks. He would daily-drive an Alfa Romeo 4C if he could. Email Brian Normile

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