With the price of fuel soaring dramatically, automobile owners are experiencing plenty of pain at the pumps. That’s particularly true for those piloting full-size utility vehicles, which, along with full-size pickups, are among the thirstiest rigs on the road. There doesn’t appear to be much relief in sight, but the Texas-built 2023 Toyota Sequoia — now with a standard hybrid powertrain — offers a measure of it.
The automaker’s third-generation eight-passenger utility vehicle, which goes on sale in summer, has received a long-overdue redesign from top to bottom. Other than a few cosmetic refreshes, the previous Sequoia held fast to the same basic structure and optional 5.7-litre V-8 since the 2007 model year.
The new bodywork is highlighted by a larger and aggressive-looking grille. It’s flanked by more prominent fenders with deep creases, which underscore the character-changing appearance.
The Sequoia’s body-on-frame chassis is the same one used for the redesigned Tundra pickup and the Lexus LX luxury utility vehicle, both of which were introduced for 2022. Attached to it is a new independent rear suspension that replaces the previous solid rear axle.
Toyota says it helps improve the ride and steering qualities and allows for an available height-adjustable air suspension system with load leveling. That can certainly help when towing up to 9,000 pounds (4,090 kg) of trailer, up from the previous 7,300-pound (3,320 kg) rating.
The Sequoia’s overall dimensions have increased for 2023, which translates into more passenger and cargo space. The folding third-row bench seat can now be adjusted fore and aft by up to 15 centimetres.
All but the base-model trim comes with a 14-inch touch-screen that resides between a set of prominent air vents and above the dual-armrest floor console, which houses a chunky shift lever.
For 2023, the V-8 has been replaced by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre V-6 along with an electric motor. Output is 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque, compared with the V-8’s 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet. A 10-speed automatic transmission directs torque to the rear wheels. Four-wheel-drive is standard.
The hybrid’s official fuel-consumption numbers haven’t been released, but they’re expected to be similar to the Tundra’s rating of 12.7 l/100 km in the city, 10.5 on the highway and 11.7 combined. That would be a huge improvement over the 2022 Sequoia’s 18.5/13.9/16.4 numbers.
As of this writing, Toyota hasn’t revealed pricing details, but a reasonable estimate would be $70,000 for the base SR5 trim. It comes with a moonroof, heated front seats, 12.3-inch digital driver’s information display and 360-degree surround-view exterior monitor.
The Limited gets heated and ventilated front seats with memory settings, heated steering wheel and power folding third-row seat and power liftgate. The Platinum trim comes with second-row captain’s chairs, panoramic moonroof, head-up information display for the driver, wireless phone charging and rain-sensing wipers.
The off-road oriented TRD Pro builds on the Platinum’s content with special off-road Fox-brand shocks, selectable locking differential, front skid plate and Crawl and Downhill Assist control that holds the Sequoia to a fixed speed without the driver touching the brake pedal.
For 2023, Toyota has added a top-rung Capstone grade to the Sequoia lineup that includes premium leather seat covers, fancier interior and exterior trim, ambient mood lighting, power running boards and acoustic window glass. Also included are 22-inch chrome wheels (18-inch wheels are standard).
All Sequoias arrive with plenty of dynamic-safety technologies, including emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning/intervention and pedestrian detection.
The Toyota Sequoia’s numerous strengths related to style, power and carrying/towing capacities continue to make it strong a contender in the big-ute class. The improved power plus best-in-class fuel efficiency, especially during a time of high pump prices, should be enough to tip the scales in its favour.
What you should know: 2023 Toyota Sequoia
Type: Four-wheel-drive full-size utility vehicle
Engine (h.p.): 3.4-litre V-6, twin-turbocharged, plus electric motor (437)
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Market position: The Sequoia competes in the large seven- and eight-passenger utility-vehicle segment that includes entries from Ford, Chevrolet/GMC, Nissan, Kia and Hyundai. Luxury-class models from Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi also participate in this class.
Points: Previous dated styling gives way to a more modern and rugged appearance. • Standard hybrid system is arriving at just the right time and delivers plenty of power. • Upgraded suspension components should add greater comfort and practicality. • Wide variety of trim levels and price points. • A battery-electric version would add overall competitiveness.
Active safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (std.); active cruise control (std.); front and rear emergency braking (std.); inattentive-driver alert (std.); lane-departure warning (std.); pedestrian warning (std.)
L/100 km (city/hwy): 18/24 (est.)
Base price (incl. destination): $70,000 (est.)
Chevrolet Tahoe AWD
- Base price: $65,200
- Shorter version of the Suburban offers both gas and turbo-diesel engines.
Ford Expedition 4x4
- Base price: $72,000
- Updated 2022 model can be had in regular-, or MAX-wheelbase versions.
- Base price: $72,600ˆ
- Seven-passenger tall wagon comes with a 400-h.p. V.8.
– written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media