2023 Toyota Sequoia Review – Comfortable Yet Cold

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

Fast Facts

2023 Toyota Sequoia Platinum and Capstone Fast Facts

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.
2023 toyota sequoia review comfortable yet cold

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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2 of 36 comments
  • Chuck Norton Chuck Norton on Jul 03, 2023


    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.

  • Theflyersfan The two Louisville truck plants are still operating, but not sure for how much longer. I have a couple of friends who work at a manufacturing company in town that makes cooling systems for the trucks built here. And they are on pins and needles wondering if or when they get the call to not go back to work because there are no trucks being made. That's what drives me up the wall with these strikes. The auto workers still get a minimum amount of pay even while striking, but the massive support staff that builds components, staffs temp workers, runs the logistics, etc, ends up with nothing except the bare hope that the state's crippled unemployment system can help them keep afloat. In a city where shipping (UPS central hub and they almost went on strike on August 1) and heavy manufacturing (GE Appliance Park and the Ford plants) keeps tens of thousands of people employed, plus the support companies, any prolonged shutdown is a total disaster for the city as well. UAW members - you're not getting a 38% raise right away. That just doesn't happen. Start a little lower and end this. And then you can fight the good fight against the corner office staff who make millions for being in meetings all day.
  • Dusterdude The "fire them all" is looking a little less unreasonable the longer the union sticks to the totally ridiculous demands ( or maybe the members should fire theit leadership ! )
  • Thehyundaigarage Yes, Canadian market vehicles have had immobilizers mandated by transport Canada since around 2001.In the US market, some key start Toyotas and Nissans still don’t have immobilizers. The US doesn’t mandate immobilizers or daytime running lights, but they mandate TPMS, yet canada mandates both, but couldn’t care less about TPMS. You’d think we’d have universal standards in North America.
  • Alan I think this vehicle is aimed more at the dedicated offroad traveller. It costs around the same a 300 Series, so its quite an investment. It would be a waste to own as a daily driver, unless you want to be seen in a 'wank' vehicle like many Wrangler and Can Hardly Davidson types.The diesel would be the choice for off roading as its quite torquey down low and would return far superior mileage than a petrol vehicle.I would think this is more reliable than the Land Rovers, BMW make good engines. https://www.drive.com.au/reviews/2023-ineos-grenadier-review/
  • Lorenzo I'll go with Stellantis. Last into the folly, first to bail out. Their European business won't fly with the German market being squeezed on electricity. Anybody can see the loss of Russian natural gas and closing their nuclear plants means high cost electricity. They're now buying electrons from French nuclear plants, as are the British after shutting down their coal industry. As for the American market, the American grid isn't in great shape either, but the US has shale oil and natural gas. Stellantis has profits from ICE Ram trucks and Jeeps, and they won't give that up.