All-New, All Hybrid
Toyota has added another model to its ever increasing stable of electrified vehicles with the all-new 2023 Sequoia now exclusively hybrid powered. Completely redesigned, the Sequoia is available in five trims—SR5, Limited, Platinum, TRD Pro and Capstone. With a new powertrain, exterior and interior design, infotainment interface and increased efficiency, the 2023 Sequoia will continue to be a popular choice for those needing a full-size SUV.
Power to tow
Clean Fleet Report was invited to Toyota’s U.S. headquarters in Plano, Texas, the first week of June to be among the first to drive the all-new 2023 Sequoia. This Flash Drive review will touch on the features of this very capable SUV. We will do a full Road Test in the coming months, reviewing the Sequoia in detail, including real world fuel economy.
Power and Efficiency
All five trims of the 2023 Toyota Sequoia come with a 10-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with sequential shift, tow and haul driving modes, as well as drive modes of Eco, Normal and Sport. The power comes from the I-Force Max twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy numbers have not been announced, but the same gasoline-hybrid power plant in the Toyota Tundra pickup gets 20 mpg city/24 highway/22 combined.
The I-Force Max engine was smooth and powerful with the instant torque from the electric motor. Toyota’s parallel hybrid system automatically switches between the electric drive mode, combined electric motor and gasoline engine, and gasoline-only engine power. At low speeds (under 18 miles per hour) the Sequoia hybrid can roll along in electric-only mode, but quickly adds the gasoline engine when you step on the accelerator, returning to EV mode when you lift off the pedal. You won’t notice any of these transitions as the system is as smooth as silk.
An engine now augmented by electric drive
The 2023 Sequoia is easy-to-drive with its balanced ride coming from the fully boxed frame that it shares with the Toyota Tundra, Land Cruiser and Lexus LX. Toyota says “the core objective of this platform is to provide excellent handling, supreme comfort and impressive capability.” Depending on the Sequoia model, wheels are either 18, 20 or 22 inches and are shod with all-season tires, except the TRD models that get either Falken Wildpeak or Michelin LTX all-terrain tires.
Whether on the highway, country roads or in city traffic the electric power steering made turn-ins accurate. The independent double-wishbone front (except on the TRD Pro), and multi-link with coil springs rear suspension (gone are leaf springs) resulted in a controlled ride and stable stops. For even more comfort you can get a load-leveling rear air suspension and an adaptive variable suspension.
The Sequoia Hybrid has a regenerative braking system that converts kinetic energy into electric energy, and stores it in the 1.87 kilowatt-hour battery. That battery comes in handy during heavy acceleration or pulling a trailer up a long grade, something a non-hybrid powerplant can’t offer.
Toyota gave us time on an off-road course with some up-and-down sections, a water feature and an open dirt track. We went off-roading in the Sequoia Limited with 20-inch alloy wheels and 265/60 all-season tires. We had an enjoyable experience, but possibly it would have been enhanced if we tackled the course in the TRD Pro or SR5 TRD Off-Road models, which have more aggressive all-terrain tires. But it didn’t matter, with the 8.6-inches of ground clearance and the torque from the hybrid system, we easily attacked the ruts, rocks and mud. The Sequoia provided confidence that should satisfy most mild off-road needs.
The turbocharged V6 hybrid system has a maximum tow rating of 9,520 pounds. The Tow Technology Package, which is standard on the Platinum, TRD Pro and Capstone, includes a digital display rearview mirror and trailer backup guide with Straight Path Assist. Power extending tow mirrors are optional. Clean Fleet Report had the opportunity to drive the Sequoia while pulling a 6,500-pound boat and trailer. As can be expected, the torque and towing capability handled it with ease.
The Sequoia had strong acceleration, with 0-60 mph times of 7.7 seconds, which is impressive for a full-size SUV weighing-in between 5,620 and 6,185 pounds (depending on the model and if it is 2WD or 4WD).
New Look: Exterior
A badge to point the way
The Sequoia still looks like a Sequoia, but there are noticeable differences from the outgoing model. Developed at design centers in Newport Beach, CA, and Ann Arbor, MI, Toyota says the Sequoia needed to “live up to its powerful and legendary namesake, (with a) head-turning new look, (and) luxurious comfort.”
Let’s start with the grille, which by any description is large and not subtle, but tells the world the Sequoia is to be taken seriously. Depending on the model, the height ranges from 74.2-inches to 77.7-inches; width, 79.6 inches; and length, 208.1-inches.
All trim levels get LED head and fog lights. The rear, with “S-E-Q-U-O-I-A” spelled out in large letters in the power tailgate, has LED taillights on all trims with the top trims getting sequential turn signals.
The color palette includes White, Wind Chill Pearl, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Celestial Silver Metallic, Midnight Black Metallic, Supersonic Red, Smoked Mesquite, Army Green, Lunar Rock, Blueprint and Solar Octane.
New Look: Interior
The redesigned interior has a simple and well-laid-out dash with the dominant feature a 14-inch touchscreen in upper trim levels. An 8-inch touchscreen is standard, but opting for the larger screen will make your seat time more enjoyable. While the pinch, scroll and touch features worked well with little lag, Toyota encourages you to develop a close relationship with your Sequoia. When you want to do something, simply say “Hey, Hello, Hi or Okay, Toyota!” These commands start the process of finding new destinations in the navigation, searching for a song through Apple Music, or performing functions inside the cabin.
A major upgrade inside
Each of the five trim levels has a different look to the interior, from the base SR5 to the premium Capstone. The SR5 gets cloth seats with SofTex synthetic leather as an option; the Limited and TRD Pro get SofTex standard; the Platinum gets leather-trimmed; and the Capstone gets semi-aniline leather trimmed seats.
All trim levels have power adjustable and heated seats, with some trim levels getting ventilation. The rear seats are also heated in the higher trim levels. With so many options and packages to make the Sequoia interior how you want it, take the time to do your research online at the dealer.
There are three audio options of Audio, Audio Plus and Premium Audio, the latter is the JBL system with 14 speakers, including a subwoofer and amplifier. This produced excellent sound for the FM/HDAM and SiriusXM that is included for 90 days. The system was easy to use, but having a channel knob to accompany the volume knob would have made it more convenient. The system has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Wi-Fi Connect with a one-month trial period that includes up to 3 GB. There are USB ports front and rear and 12-Volt power outlets.
The cockpit design is driver-friendly with all gauges, including the hybrid management system, in easy sight and the controls in easy reach. The cabin systems include a 10-inch head-up display, a 12.3-inch digital gauge information screen, panoramic view and multi-terrain monitors, backup camera with projected path, three-zone automatic climate control, a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel that contains audio telephone and voice controls, wireless smartphone charging and a digital rearview mirror with HomeLink.
The 2023 Sequoia is well-equipped with the trio of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) of the Star Safety System, Toyota Safety Sense and Safety Connect. Active and passive safety features include eight air bags, vehicle stability and traction control and brake assist. The advanced driver pre-collision technology includes lane departure alert, dynamic radar cruise control and pedestrian detection. Additional safety features include remote keyless entry, push button start/stop and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Pricing, Availability and Warranties
Full pricing for the 2023 Toyota Sequoia has not been released, but the starting MSRP is $58,300. The all-new Tundra should be in dealers by late summer 2022.
Tires lean toward on-road use
The 2023 Sequoia comes with these warranties:
Battery – 10 years/150,000 miles
Hybrid Components – Eight years/100,000 miles
Powertrain – Five years/60,000 miles
Comprehensive – Three years/36,000 miles
Maintenance Plan – Two years/25,000 miles
Corrosion Perforation – Two years/Unlimited miles
Roadside Assistance – Two years/25,000 miles
Observations: 2023 Toyota Sequoia
The new Sequoia is designed to work & play
Built in San Antonio, Texas, at the same assembly plant as the all-new 2022 Tundra pickup, Toyota will be getting the third-generation Sequoia to dealers in late summer 2022.
The Toyota Sequoia competes against the Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Suburban/Tahoe and the Nissan Armada, but is the only hybrid, will appeal to those looking for a more efficient, comfortable full-size SUV for family trips or just running around town.
The comfortable ride and efficient hybrid powertrain will fit right in with families that have places to go. The Sequoia will handle trips to the waterpark or school, but can also go (mild) off-roading and tow a boat or camp trailer.
Toyota is known for its reliability and build quality. Owners can expect the 2023 Sequoia to be a part of their family for many years. Innovative technology and safety systems will make spending time in the Sequoia a pleasant experience.
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Story by John Faulkner. Photos by John Faulkner and Toyota.