Update 11/17/2022: This review has been updated with test numbers for the 2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone.
Few new cars have such a long gestation period as the Toyota Sequoia. The outgoing generation of Toyota’s largest SUV arrived in 2008 and languished for 15 model years while the rest of its full-size rivals advanced at breakneck speed in refinement, handling, technology and desirability. But for 2023, the redesigned Sequoia finally arrived, sharing its platform with the equally fresh Toyota Tundra pickup truck and Lexus LX600 SUV. Its platform also serves as the basis for global Toyota Land Cruiser, which was unceremoniously pulled from the North American market. Considering all the load the new Sequoia has to shoulder, our expectations were understandable when we first got behind the wheel.
on paper Toyotas The third-generation Sequoia is a solid package. Three rows of seats are standard, as is the hybrid’s twin-turbo 3.4-liter V-6 engine, which makes 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy figures of 19 mpg city and 22 mpg highway for the AWD Sequoia are a significant improvement over the previous model, which had EPA estimates of 13 mpg city and 17 mpg highway. The rear-wheel-drive Sequoia is rated at 21 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Maximum towing capacity varies by vehicle weight, from 8,980 pounds for the heaviest four-wheel-drive Capstone to 9,520 pounds for the lighter two-wheel-drive SR5. In between those items is a wide selection of handsome styling options, including an off-road-oriented TRD Pro model with an electronic locking rear differential, Fox shocks, and 33-inch all-terrain tires. The more luxurious Limited, Platinum and top-of-the-line Capstone models should appeal to the mall crowd.
Still, the new Sequoia feels moderately refined on the road. The hybrid powertrain and accompanying 10-speed automatic transmission are very smooth and powerful when you step on the accelerator. At our test track, we recorded a brisk 5.6-second run to 60 mph in our all-wheel-drive Sequoia Capstone. That’s faster than the tested GMC Yukon Denali, which took 6.0 seconds, but 5.1 seconds behind the Ford Expedition Timberline. The Sequoia’s quarter-mile time, likewise, sits between these other SUVs at 14.3 seconds at 94 mph.
But otherwise, the Sequoia’s handling behavior makes it feel like a shipping container-sized SUV, in other words, bulky. It feels very wide, making it harder to place in a lane than you’d like, a trait that’s exacerbated by the steering, which is rather light. Cornering grip is relatively high. The Sequoia stuck to our safety pad at 0.76g, which is more than we can say for the Ford and GMC, but subjectively the Toyota feels less planted than those other SUVs. Its brake pedal also squishes on first press, which isn’t good for driver confidence, and the Sequoia needed 194 feet to stop from 70 mph.
Yukon and its twin Chevrolet Tahoe, are the current benchmarks for large SUV dynamics, with their firm brake pedals, relatively communicative steering and a great sense of what is considered maneuverability in this segment. Driving the Toyota Platinum, Limited, and Capstone trims, we were impressed with their isolation from the road, and except for a slight breeze whistling around the large exterior mirrors, their cabins remained quiet and peaceful. As an option, rear air springs and adaptive dampers can replace coil springs and passive dampers on Platinum and Capstone models, although they mainly perform a load leveling function. On the open road, we couldn’t detect a significant difference between the two setups.
The Sequoia’s comfortable front seats are flanked by a very wide center console with plenty of storage space. A wide 14.0-inch infotainment touchscreen is standard on all but the base SR5, which makes do with a smaller 8.0-inch display, but can be optioned with a larger screen. However, the second and third row seats are not so comfortable. Headroom in the rearmost seat is limited, and it’s tight even in the second row, especially when the Sequoia is equipped with the optional panoramic sunroof. Legroom is particularly tight in the third row, in part because, unlike some of its rivals, the Sequoia has a solid rear axle rather than an independent rear suspension. This layout takes up valuable underfloor packing space, relegating the Sequoia’s rear to a place better left to the kids.
As is often the case with three-row SUVs, unless they are long-wheelbase, e.g. Chevy Suburban and Ford’s expedition Max — Cargo volume is limited (12 cubic feet) when the Sequoia’s third row is used. While the rear row can slide forward 6 inches, increasing available space to 22 cubes, this comes at the expense of third-row legroom, and it doesn’t fold into the floor when you fold it down to increase available space to 49 cubic feet. An accessory shelf can be installed to create a flat cargo floor, but you have to deal with the chest height of the lift, which won’t make loading bulky items any easier.
If this were still 2008, we’d be more willing to overlook some of the new Sequoia’s shortcomings, but given the strength of today’s full-size SUV market, we wish Toyota had put more effort into its packaging and on-road behavior. While the new Sequoia is a marked improvement over the outgoing model in every aspect that current owners will no doubt appreciate, its shortcomings are likely to reduce its appeal to more discerning buyers.
2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone
Vehicle Type: Front Engine, Rear/FWD, 7-Passenger, 4-Door Wagon
Base/as tested: $80,095 / $80,095
24-valve 3.4L DOHC twin-turbo intercooled V-6, 389 hp, 479 lb-ft + AC motor, 48 hp, 184 lb-ft (combined output: 437 hp .z., 583 lb-ft; 1.9 kWh nickel-metal hydride battery)
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Suspension, Front/Rear: Control Arms/Split Axle
Brakes, front/rear: 13.9-inch ventilated disc/13.6-inch ventilated disc
Tires: Bridgestone Dueler H/T
265/50R-22 112H Extra Load M+S
Wheelbase: 122.0 inches
Length: 208.1 inches
Width: 79.6 inches
Height: 74.5 inches
Passenger volume: 157 feet3
Cargo capacity behind first/second/third rows: 89/49/12 feet3
Curb weight: 6,179 lbs
C/D EXAMINATION RESULTS
60 mph: 5.6 sec
1/4 mile: 14.3 seconds at 94 mph
100 mph: 16.4 sec
The results above are omitted 1 foot deployment 0.3 sec.
Start from 5–60 mph: 6.3 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.4 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.3 sec
Top speed (gov ltd): 107 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 194 feet
Road grip, 300-foot pad: 0.76g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 16 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 20/19/22 mpg
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