By Brian NormileFebruary 10, 2022
When Toyota took the wraps off the redesigned 2023 Sequoia, our staff had a wishlist of things we hoped to see in the new full-size SUV: more power, efficiency, luxury and tech, as well as better towing capabilities — all while retaining the roominess and visibility that made the previous generation so appealing despite its age. We weren’t asking for much.
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And on paper, Toyota seems to have delivered a lot of what we asked for. The new Sequoia, appearing at the 2022 Chicago Auto Show, shares architecture with the also-redesigned 2022 Tundra pickup truck, as well as the not-for-America Land Cruiser and the Lexus LX 600 (Lexus is Toyota’s luxury brand), which means a traditional body-on-frame SUV with a fully boxed frame.
Engine and Transmission
Under the hood of every 2023 Sequoia is the i-Force Max twin-turbo V-6 hybrid powertrain that first debuted in the new Tundra, paired here to a 10-speed automatic transmission. It produces 437 horsepower (up from the old Sequoia’s 381-hp, 5.7-liter V-8) and 537 pounds-feet of torque (a more significant jump from the 5.7-liter’s 401 pounds-feet).
That covers the “more power” wish, but what about fuel economy? As of now, mileage figures for any application of the new i-Force Max in the U.S. are just manufacturer estimates, but Toyota expects the Tundra to see 20-22 mpg combined, depending on configuration. If the Sequoia comes anywhere close to that, it will signal an improvement over the outgoing model’s 14-15 mpg. The most fuel-efficient combo for the new Sequoia will likely be a low-level rear-wheel-drive trim, while the least efficient will likely be the off-roading TRD Pro and its standard four-wheel drive (other trims will have either RWD or part-time 4WD).
So we have more power and probably more efficiency. Is towing improved? We’ll have to wait until we can actually tow with a Sequoia to be sure, but on paper it is. Maximum towing capacity for the 2023 Sequoia increases to 9,000 pounds (up from 7,400 pounds), and an integrated trailer brake controller is now available, though it wasn’t immediately clear what option or trim you need to get it. Additional towing technologies include a Trailer Backup Guide feature and Straight Path Assist, the latter to help keep your rig straight while backing up.
Exterior and Interior
Did Toyota deliver on our request for more luxury? Well, we got to see the new, range-topping Capstone trim — just like the Tundra’s newest offering — that Toyota hopes will add a bit more of a premium feel to the Sequoia. It has exclusive 22-inch chrome wheels, chrome exterior accents and power running boards. Inside, there’s premium leather upholstery in an exclusive black-and-white pattern, plus genuine open-pore wood trim. Ambient lighting helps set the mood.
The interior is impressive and competitive, but not class-leading — though the Sequoia we saw at the Chicago show (like most cars shown well before they hit dealers) is a prototype, so things may change by the time it goes on sale. It feels nice and premium, with decent materials quality above elbow level, as is the norm among mass-market SUVs. The leather and wood both feel high-quality, and the blessedly physical dashboard controls don’t feel cheap. The 14-inch touchscreen (same as in the new Tundra) is impressive in size, though it doesn’t really do anything to distinguish itself from other automakers’ touchscreens. Toyota says the Capstone is the only trim to get acoustic glass in the front doors, but we couldn’t verify any meaningful difference during the show.
One hallmark of the previous-generation Sequoia was visibility, and we may lose out on some of that in the 2023 model. The windshield is less upright and the hood seems a bit taller, leaving the view out front acceptable but not as good as it used to be. The C-pillars are also much larger, but visibility to the sides didn’t feel much more restricted to me.
Moving beyond the front seats, materials quality starts to dip a bit in the second row, but the captain’s chairs in the auto-show vehicle were comfortable. The car’s panoramic moonroof encroached on my headroom a bit (I’m also 6-foot-1). The second row also has charge-only USB ports and a household outlet, and the Capstone’s captain’s chairs are heated and ventilated.
Getting into the third row is easier now that the second-row seats fold and tumble. Materials quality dips even further back there, but that’s the norm in this class. The previous generation had third-row space for adults, and that continues here. Toyota also had a prior-gen Sequoia at the show, and sitting in both SUVs back-to-back, I found the older Sequoia’s third row a little more roomy. That said, the 2023 model has a third row that can slide 6 inches — a rare, if not exclusive, capability among third rows. It has power reclining in the Capstone, as well, so those features are probably worth the perceived sacrifice in overall room. In both generations of the SUV, my knees were uncomfortably high, an aspect that rivals like the Ford Expedition improve a great deal on. I don’t recommend taller adults sit back there in the Sequoia for long.
More From Cars.com:
- 2023 Toyota Sequoia: Antique Giant Morphs Into Modern Competitor
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- Capstone Course: Toyota Gives 2022 Tundra Another Luxe Grade
- 2022 Toyota Tundra Review: Better Where It Counts
- 2022 Lexus LX 600 Brings Lavish Accommodations for Rough Terrain
Cargo specs aren’t available yet, but the cargo area feels relatively roomy without an excessively tall load-in height. The Sequoia’s available adjustable cargo shelf is a nice feature, as well, with four positions to divide the cargo area as you see fit. Second- and third-row seats are available with power folding to help with larger loads. Interestingly, the flat load floor is higher than the bottom of the liftgate, and you have to leave the shelf in a mid-level position to get it, leaving some under-shelf storage. That’s a feature we’ve seen in some smaller, two-row hatchbacks and SUVs.
With a competitive, if not groundbreaking, interior, the Sequoia Capstone has caught up to its competition, though it comes right as those competitors are being updated or soon due. We’ll have to wait to drive the Sequoia to see if these changes translate into an improved on- and off-road experience. We’ll also have to wait a bit longer for pricing or fuel economy, which should come closer to when the SUV goes on sale in the summer.
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