2023 Toyota Sequoia Review – Comfortable Yet Cold

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

Fast Facts

2023 Toyota Sequoia Platinum and Capstone Fast Facts

Powertrain
3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (437 horsepower @ 5,200 RPM; 583 lb-ft of torque @ 2,400 RPM) paired with permanent magnet synchronous electric motor (48 horsepower @ N/A RPM; 184 lb-ft of torque @ N/A RPM) and generator
Transmission/Drive Wheel Layout
Ten-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive (Platinum), four-wheel drive (Capstone)
Fuel Economy, MPG
21 city / 24 highway / 22 combined (EPA Rating) (Platinum); 19 city / 22 highway / 20 combined (EPA Rating)
Fuel Economy, L/100km
12.6 city / 10.5 highway / 11.7 combined. (NRCan Rating) (Capstone, N/A Platinum)
Base Price
N/A Platinum, $78,300 (Capstone) U.S. / $92,334.50 (Platinum), $95,334.50 (Capstone) Canada
As-Tested Price
$70,900 (Platinum), $80,906 (Capstone) U.S. / $92,334.50 (Platinum), $96,229.34 (Capstone) Canada
Prices include N/A (Platinum) and $1,595 (Capstone) destination charge in the United States and $2,030 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

Large, family-hauling SUVs prioritize comfort for obvious reasons. With the 2023 Toyota Sequoia, the brand also tried to be stylish. One mission accomplished, one not so much.


As an enthusiast, the Sequoia is easy to pick on – its driving dynamics are blandly competent with little spark for the sporty-minded family man or woman. As a utility vehicle, the Sequoia works a bit better – at least as well as anything in its competitive set. As something that’s meant to appeal to the eye, well, styling is obviously subjective, but I found it to be less than pleasing to the eye.

This review will be an unusual dual-trim review – I drove two separate Sequoias within a short time of one another. They’re not different enough to justify two separate reviews. So, let’s kill two birds – trees? – with one stone. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

The Sequoia’s styling follows the blocky look of Toyota’s full-size Tundra truck. The look works better on the outside than it does on the Tundra – and better on the Sequoia’s outside than its inside. That said, it’s still a bit of an old-school design that eschews swoopy styling or even a simple, plain boxy look and while it’s not ugly, it’s not, at least to my eye, head-turning attractive.

A gaping grille and large lower front fascia busy up the look. The Capstone trim I drove had chrome accents integrated into the grille.

Inside, the blocky look again comes across as too busy, though there’s some good stuff here. The big infotainment screen looks wedged in, but its size is appreciated by aging eyes, and Toyota’s revamped infotainment is worlds better than what it replaces. Interior materials seemed nice enough for the respective price in both trims I drove, though the Capstone’s cabin looks and feels more premium, with the white trim giving it more personality. The climate and audio buttons are easy enough to learn and use, and I appreciated the nice amount of storage in the center console area. The wireless cell phone charger being angled toward the driver is a nice touch.

Creature comfort isn’t the issue here – the Sequoia is roomy and quiet, save for muted engine roar from the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 when the hybrid’s gas motor comes alive. That’s right, the sole powertrain available on the Sequoia is a hybrid that pairs the 3.5 with an electric motor/generator that’s located between the 10-speed automatic transmission and the engine. Total power is 437 horsepower and 583 lb-ft of torque.

It’s a smooth powertrain, with enough low-end grunt for standard commuting, but this a heavy vehicle and you feel it. The Platinum trim I drove was a bit lighter since it was rear-wheel drive, but it’s still over 5,800 pounds. The ride is unsurprisingly smooth for both trims – I didn’t notice much difference between the 20-inch rims the Platinum rode on and the 22-inchers sported by the Capstone. Handling is best described as blandly competent – it’s dialed in fairly well for such a heavy vehicle and it’s not too ponderous, but the word “sporty” won’t be shooting across your mind, either. Heavy, numb steering that feels a little disconnected doesn’t help.

Towing capacity for a two-drive Platinum is 9,310 pounds and for the four-wheel drive Capstone it’s 8,980 pounds.

The Platinum I drove is the mid-trim out of five (SR5, Limited, Platinum, TRD Pro, Capstone) and it comes with 20-inch wheels, LED headlights, LED taillights, LED fog lamps, blind-spot monitoring, leather seats, heated and cooled front and rear seats, second-row captain’s chairs, power-fold third-row seats, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, wireless cell phone charging, tri-zone climate control, keyless entry and starting, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and satellite radio. Options included a towing package, navigation, and power running boards.

The Capstone added the aforementioned 22s, auto-leveling headlights, and made the running boards standard. A dash cam was a key option, with the other two options being a ball mount and the Wind Chill Pearl White paint.

Active and passive safety systems on both trims included radar cruise control, lane-departure alert with steering assist, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, and rear-cross traffic alert. 

As-tested price for the Platinum was $70,900 and the Capstone checked in at $80,906.

Fuel economy checks in at 19/22/20 for all four-wheel-drive Sequoias and 21/24/22 for all two-wheel-drive versions.

From a pure function standpoint, the Sequoia is just fine, and the Capstone even gives more than a hint of luxury, even if its cabin, while nice, isn’t quite as ostentatious as that you might find in a Cadillac or Lincoln.

Yeah, the driving dynamics are a bit bland – you generally expect that in this segment. The biggest issue here is love-it-or-leave-it styling. That and a lack of panache that you see from its rivals.

The Sequoia won’t embarrass you in the carpool lane, but it won’t make your neighbors jealous, either. At this price point, that might not be enough.

[Images © 2023 Tim Healey/TTAC, Toyota]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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  • Chuck Norton Chuck Norton on Jul 03, 2023

    P

    Jeff S.

    Pathfinder sales are up 200%-it's not going anywhere.

  • Legacygt Legacygt on Jul 06, 2023

    How does a review in this class not cover the 3rd row or cargo area? Well, it turns out that both are pretty weak in the Sequoia. It's got far too many compromises for an all new vehicle at this price point.

  • Kcflyer hang in there Lexus. Keep making the IS with the V8 and sooner or later I will buy a new one :)
  • 1995 SC I'll take Mystichrome. And a different car
  • Wolfwagen I wish I could afford one of these except that stupid short master. Has no one learned from the Hummer H2 SUT?
  • 1995 SC Any Tom Petty album
  • Wolfwagen Another Democratic green energy boondoggle. Have they even paid for the clean up at Solyndra yet? I wish some investigative journalist would follow the damm money to see how much is going into the pockets of the DNC and Politicians and donors
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