2023 Toyota Sequoia Drive Experience: Premium, Rugged Family Adventuring

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins


Automotive Rhythms recently had a chance to experience and drive the all-new 2023 Sequoia, which takes over the big boy throne at Toyota now that the Land Cruiser is no longer in the States. Held in Plano, Texas, where Toyota Motor North America is headquartered, the press launch allowed me to explore intimate details of the vehicle from design to engineering. The full-size, three-row SUV is offered in five trims including the rugged, adventurous, and off-roading TRD Pro and the luxurious, top-of-the-line Capstone edition featuring 22” dark-chrome alloy rims, acoustic glass, Burled walnut trim, a premium black/white interior with Semi-aniline leather seats, a 10” Head-up Display, and power running boards.


With an array of shared features and architecture with the latest Tundra pickup, the physique of the body-on-frame Sequoia is stellar. The contemporary styling is sharp, edgy, and attention-grabbing, vital in a field filled with similar-looking designs. A massive, bold grille jumps right at you, and sculpted lines and molds offer a sense of pride for owners. A few notable elements of the 2023 Sequoia include:

  • 437-horsepower and 583 lb.-ft. of torque
  • Maximum towing up to 9,520 lbs.
  • Availability late summer
  • Body-on-frame chassis
  • Sliding 3rd-row with Adjustable Cargo Shelf System
  • Available 14” Toyota Audio Multimedia
  • Standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.5

“We are excited to write the next chapter in our truck family story with the all-new 2023 Sequoia,” said Joe Moses, general manager of Toyota’s Vehicle Marketing Team. “A three-row SUV must be excellent at many things to succeed in this highly competitive market, and we’ve got that with Sequoia. Our customers will have room for their whole crew, the technology they want to stay connected, and the heavy-duty power and efficiency they need for both on and off-road.” 


For power and performance, there is only one engine option. All Sequoia models receive the empowering i-FORCE MAX 3.5-liter twin-turbo hybrid V6 borrowed from the Tundra. Toyota paired it with the company’s 10-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift mode, uphill/downhill shift logic, and TOW/HAUL driving modes. Acceleration is impressive as it moves quickly and fluidly when you hit the pedal thanks to plenty of torque available from 2,400 rpm. I understand that a large displacement 8-cylinder motor may seem like the most fitting pairing for a truck weighing 5,620 to 6,185 pounds, but automakers have become savvy with obtaining power, efficiency, and performance from their 6-liter turbo setups. The only setback for me is that Sequoia’s sealed nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery is placed under the third row and keeps it from folding flat. Also, the seat is raised and reduces rear storage space.


No matter what position I took inside the Sequoia’s voluminous cabin, I was comforted, especially when seated in the second-row captain chairs (reclining, fold-down, fold-up, tumble-forward), which are standard on the top three trims. I enjoyed these far more than the typical bench configuration. Thankfully, a panoramic sunroof with a power sunshade lights up the cabin, USBs are omnipresent, and the available 14” touchscreen and 14-speaker JBL audio system are at your disposal. The intuitive Toyota Multimedia System was designed in-house by the Toyota Connected team. The navigation is ultra-smart and “Hey Toyota” voice commands simplify your search needs. Additional amenities include manual second-and third-row sunshades, wireless smartphone charging, a Panoramic View Monitor with cameras, 120v rear-seat and cargo area AC power outlets, and the exclusive Sliding Third Row with Adjustable Cargo Shelf System. It reclines, has 6” of adjustability forward or backward, and features a removable storage shelf for various configurations. The cargo volume behind the third row is 22.3 cubic feet compared to 25.5 cubic feet in the Chevrolet Tahoe.


A multitude of exterior hues have been designated for the third-generation Sequoia and consist of White, Wind Chill Pearl, Celestial Silver, Army Green, Blueprint, Lunar Rock, Magnetic Grey Metallic, Smoked Mesquite, Midnight Black Metallic, Supersonic Red, and the TRD-exclusive Solar Octane. Designed, developed, engineered, and assembled in the U.S., the five grades are Sequoia SR5, Sequoia Limited, Sequoia Platinum, Sequoia TRD Pro, and the Sequoia Capstone. In addition, safety comes in the form of Toyota Safety Sense 2.5. It includes Pre-Collision System w/Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert w/Steering Assist, Lane Tracing Assist, Automatic High Beams, and Road Sign Assist.


You can equip your SR5 (4×4 and 4×2) with the TRD Sport Package or add the TRD Off-Road Package to the SR5 4×4 or Limited 4×4. The TRD Sport Package consists of 20” TRD Sport alloy rims, TRD Sport badging, red TRD engine start button, TRD leather shift knob, and aluminum sport pedals. Conversely, the TRD Off-Road Package impresses with all-terrain tires, an off-road suspension with Bilstein shocks, a skid plate, a red TRD engine start button, aluminum sport pedals, an electronically controlled locking rear differential, Multi-Terrain Select (MTS), Crawl Control (CRAWL), and Downhill Assist Control (DAC).


The Sequoia TRD Pro will be the number one choice for individuals looking to traverse the great outdoors daily. This bad boy gives you the TRD off-road suspension with 2.5” FOX shocks, TRD PRO front stabilizer bar, 18” TRD Pro black forged-aluminum BBS wheels wrapped in 285/65R18 (33”) Falken Wildpeaks, heritage-inspired “TOYOTA” grille with a TRD light bar, a dual TRD Pro exhaust tip, and TRD Pro SofTex-trimmed seats. But there’s more! Toyota also blessed the SUV with a TRD roof rack, an aluminum TRD front skid plate, a selectable locking rear differential, MTS, CRAWL, and DAC. However, like the Tundra TRD Pro, do not expect any tow hooks.


MSRP pricing starts at $58,300 and increases to $75,300. When cross-shopping, compare the Sequoia to the GMC Yukon, Chevy Tahoe, Nissan Armada, Ford Expedition, and Wagoneer. I think you will be pleasantly appeased with its new styling, advancements, and adventurous capabilities. Visit for the latest auto reviews and industry news from an urban lifestyle perspective.


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