Toyota first introduced the full-size Sequoia SUV more than 20 years ago for the 2001 model year. Since then, the Tundra-based SUV has gone through three generations and numerous facelifts and updates over the years. The most recent of these, and arguably the most dramatic, came for the 2023 model year, with the introduction of the all-new third-generation Sequoia.
This latest generation remains Sequoia body-on-frame and is built on Toyota’s GA-F platform alongside the full-size Tundra at the company’s San Antonio, Texas, assembly plant. Like the first generation, the 2023 Sequoia again has a solid rear axle, which is a big departure when the rest of the full-size SUV class has gone independent. Gone is the Sequoia’s V-8 powertrain, replaced by the iForce-Max 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 hybrid engine. The 2023 Sequoia is available in five trims, from SR5 to Capstone, seats eight passengers and tows more than 9,000 pounds.
To our credit, Toyota continues its legacy of fielding some of the best off-road hardware in the industry by continuing the Sequoia TRD Pro trim for 2023. Equipped with a locking rear differential, knobby tires, forged wheels, solid skidplates. With Fox internal-bypass shocks, Toyota’s legendary crawl control feature and more, our judges had high hopes for Toyota’s biggest car in the competition. Read on to see how it went.
We had incredibly high hopes for Toyota’s new SUV when it came to track testing. After all, the Sequoia’s 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged iForce-Max V-6 engine pumps out the most power and torque of any SUV. Thanks to the combination of a powerful gasoline engine and hybrid-electric motor, the 2023 Sequoia TRD Pro produces an impressive 437 hp and a massive 583 lb-ft of torque. After all, torque is diesel-like at a maximum of 2,400 rpm. The Sequoia’s engine is backed by a new 10-speed automatic transmission.
At the track, the Sequoia TRD Pro put down a respectable 0-60 mph time of 6.27 seconds and ran through the quarter-mile in 14.86 seconds, breaking the beams at 94.8 mph. The Sequoia was able to reign in its speed, stopping in just 128.37 feet from 60 mph. Although the Sequoia launched hard from a standing start, we found the transmission liked to short-shift frequently (a few hundred rpm below the redline), even in Sport mode. Despite being the most powerful, the Sequoia TRD Pro falls in the middle of the pack when it comes to track time. Looking at the data, we attribute some of this result to the higher axle gear ratio (3.31:1) and heavier curb weight than the competition, along with a healthy dose of torque management. Based on engine output and curb weight, we’d expect the Sequoia to be closer to 14 seconds in the quarter-mile, which would have made it the quickest of the bunch.
Interior comfort and exterior design
Our Four Wheeler of the Year judges held nothing back this year. And, unfortunately, that doesn’t bode so well for the new 2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro. Most of the criticism stems from the fact that the Sequoia TRD Pro carries a price tag of around $80,000. The interior won praise for being incredibly large and spacious, even in the second and third rows, but seat comfort split the group, with half enjoying the “flatness” while the other half didn’t care much for it. Many commented on the abundance of hard plastics and the lack of soft touch-points, while others took issue with the inaccurately camouflaged graphics. The Sequoia’s 14-speaker JBL audio system proved to be a favorite among our judges, but many noted that they could hear a fair bit of plastic rattle when the bass hit. The huge 14-inch multimedia touchscreen must have impressed the crew with its sheer size and included technology including how well voice control worked.
On the outside, our judges were still divided, but overall much kinder in their opinions. Most enjoyed the sporty and aggressive styling that takes the typical family-hauler SUV to a level that almost anyone can appreciate. Judges were divided on the LED lightbar embedded in the grille, along with the large Raptor-esque TOYOTA across the grille. A nice touch is the ¼-inch aluminum skid plate with bold, red TRD lettering that is unfortunately hidden behind the large and low front bumper. The Sequoia’s rugged aluminum side steps and forged aluminum wheels were universally admired.
Ultimately, our judges’ opinions and scoring were shaped by Toyota’s 2023 Sequoia TRD Pro’s premium-end price and option decisions. Had the Sequoia TRD Pro been built on a $61,000 SR5 grade platform, the reception would have been even better. But, alas, we all understand that this level of advanced off-road hardware doesn’t come cheap anymore.
on the highway
From our experience with the outgoing Sequoia generation, we knew the new 2023 model would perform admirably well on the highway. Our judges loved the power of the powerful iForce-Max engine, and many noted that the transmission shifts quickly and smoothly, always keeping itself in the right gear to keep the drivetrain in the heart of the engine’s powerband. We found the steering to be tight without being too heavy and the braking to have a nice solid feel. The Sequoia TRD Pro’s Fox dampers deliver a firm ride on the highway, soaking up all bumps and pavement breaks with relative ease. The biggest point of confusion for our judges came from the SUV’s exhaust note. Several noted that the iForce-Max V-6 sounded fantastic, some even better than the V-8 … until it was pointed out that the sound was being pumped through the speakers and wasn’t actually real. That, combined with wind noise from the accessory roof rack and general tire noise, left some of our judges longing for quieter quarters on long highway slogs.
When the pavement is finished
Heading to the pavement, our unanimous opinion was that the 2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro is a much better off-roader than any full-size SUV. The Fox 2.5-inch internal-bypass dampers work well on nearly every off-road terrain, but really shine when the road gets bumpy and rough. The Sequoia TRD Pro performed well when it came to rutted hill-climbs and even flexed decently well despite the relative lack of articulation of large SUVs. We found it to be an absolute blast to drive in the sand, and it had sure footing in ice and snow, proving to be a really great all-around off roader.
The Sequoia TRD Pro is packed with plenty of electronic off-road hardware and aids. We were able to spend quite a bit of time exploring the functions of the latest generation of Toyota’s crawl control system. If you remember the early days of Crawl Control and how basic and articulate the system was, you’ll be impressed by how quietly and seamlessly this latest version works. We were able to engage the crawl control and the Sequoia easily climbed and descended the biggest obstacles with no throttle or brake input from the driver. We were also able to enjoy Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select drive modes, which alter throttle mapping, transmission shift points and ABS functions. The 2023 Sequoia TRD Pro also features an electronic locking rear differential for the first time, which our judges found easy to operate thanks to its large buttons and quick engagement.
Things go a little off the rails, however, when it comes to restoring a stuck sequoia. After the Sequoia was high-centered on a berm while driving a dramatic line for a photo, we quickly discovered there was no way to recover the car from the front. In fact, Toyota’s flagship off-road SUV Sequoia TRD Pro doesn’t have a tow hook at all. We found no room to tow from the front and only the rear trailer hitch receiver was acceptable. However, we were unable to pull the car backwards from the barrier due to another berm blocking the rear. It was quite a predicament that could easily have been remedied in less than five minutes with the right recovery hook. The judges all agreed that any off-road trimmed vehicle that lacked proper recovery points was simply inexcusable. And, unfortunately, the Sequoia TRD Pro suffered from its final scoring.
We all went into this year’s Four Wheeler of the Year test event with high hopes for the new 2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro. While the desert-focused SUV impressed our judges with its powerful engine and precision-tuned suspension, we found it fell a bit short in scoring in the interior, exterior and experience categories. Hypothetically speaking, if Toyota eliminated the fake engine noise, dialed back the torque management, toned down the fake camo patterns and added useful recovery hooks, the Sequoia TRD Pro would be a real powerhouse.
- Powerful iForce-Max V-6 engine, ultra-efficient Fox internal-bypass dampers, cavernous cabin, advanced off-road technology
- Low ground clearance, lack of any usable recovery points at the front, no rear tow hook, fake engine “noise”.
“I appreciate how much interior space you get with this car in all seating rows.”
“This thing has a lot of power to accelerate to the hoops and slow down coming into them for a great brake feel.”
“I understand as much as I can about the styling of this car Zoolander“
“Holy cow, the four-wheel-drive selector “slider” is the most pleasant thing I’ve ever encountered.”
“This car is like that college roommate with gauge earrings that always tries to get you to go to the club on Tuesday night.”
“All kidding aside, if you want to go fast off-road, hands down this is the full-size SUV.”
2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro: Specs and Details
- Base price: $76,000
- As-tested price: $79,490
- EPA Fuel Econom (City/Highway/Comb): 19/22/20
- Tested fuel economy (average/best): 16.81/20.37
- Engine: iForce-Max 3.5L twin-turbocharged V-6 hybrid
- Power: 437 hp @ 5,200 RPM
- Torque: 583 lb-ft @ 2,400 RPM
- Transmission: 10-speed automatic
- Accel 0-60 MPH: 6.27 seconds
- ¼-mile: 14.86 seconds @ 94.8 mph
- Braking 60-0 MPH: 128.37 feet