2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV adds hybrid drivetrain and $78K 'Capstone' top model

Toyota’s big Sequoia SUV adds features, power and comfort as the 2023 model switches to the same platform and assembly plant as the automaker’s Tundra full-size pickup. The Sequoia competes primarily with SUVs like the Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Nissan Armada.

It’s priced accordingly, with a base model at $58,300. A new trim level appropriately called Capstone tops the model line at $78,300.

The seven- or eight-seat Sequoia is the U.S.-market equivalent to Toyota’s rugged Land Cruiser, which the automaker sells around the world. It was designed in the automaker’s U.S. studios in Newport Beach, California, and Ann Arbor.

The 2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV Capstone front seat.
The 2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV Capstone front seat.

The 2023 Sequoia adds a hybrid model for the first time. Fuel economy estimates aren’t available yet, but will be before sales begin this fall.

What’s new? How much?

The 2023 Sequoia’s exterior is identical to the Tundra pickup from the front doors forward. The rear is different, of course, because it has a long roof and enclosed cargo compartment rather than the pickup’s bed. The Tundra’s fully boxed frame and independent rear suspension carry over. A hybrid system with a 3.5L V6 engine and an electric motor is standard. It produces 437 hp and 583 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission is standard.

Unlike with the Tundra pickup, Toyota doesn’t offer a V8 engine, but the new hybrid generates more power than the previous model’s 5.7L V8.

The 2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV Capstone with  14-inch touch screen.
The 2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV Capstone with 14-inch touch screen.

The base $58,300 Tundra SR5 has rear-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive adds a whopping $3,000, to $61,300, a jump that’s consistent for all trim levels except the TRD Pro, which is only available with 4WD.

The top Sequoia, a 4WD Capstone, stickers at $78,300. Toyota discontinued the Nightshade trim level it offered on the old Sequoia.

All prices exclude Toyota’s $1,495 destination charge.

The 2023 Sequoia’s wheelbase is unchanged at 122 inches, but overall length increased three inches to 208.1. Toyota says the growth went into the rear cargo compartment. The new model is 0.3 inches narrower. The base model’s declined 2.8 inches to 77. Curb weight for most models increased about 150 pounds.

The 2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV.
The 2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV.

The Sequoia is a couple of inches shorter than the Tahoe, Yukon and Expedition.

All four large SUVs are all priced from around $50,000 to $80,000, with Chevy and GMC offering the bigger Suburban and Yukon XL, respectively, in the upper end of the Sequoia’s price range.

More from Mark Phelan: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross adds hybrid; Corolla sedan gets AWD model, too

2022 Ford Expedition Timberline borrows Bronco tech to gain off-road capability

2023 Toyota Sequoia prices and trim levels

  • Sequoia SR5 2WD: $58,300

  • Sequoia SR5 4WD: $61,300

  • Sequoia Limited 2WD: $64,700

  • Sequoia Limited 4WD: $64,700

  • Sequoia Platinum 2WD: $70,900

  • Sequoia Platinum 2WD: $73,900

  • Sequoia TRD Pro 4WD: $76,900

  • Sequoia Capstone 2WD: $75,300

  • Sequoia Capstone 4WD: $78,300

Prices exclude $1,495 destination charge

Driving impressions

I drove several well-equipped 4WD Sequoias in a day of testing that ranged from suburban Plano to highways, country roads and off road.

The interior is comfortable and accommodating. The Capstone’s burl walnut wood and aniline leather interior was attractive, with controls that were largely easy to use, including an available 14-inch touch screen linked to Toyota’s excellent new cloud-based navigation and infotainment system. A spoken “Hey, Toyota” summoned quick help with navigation and some vehicle functions. The U.S.-developed infotainment controls are by far the best Toyota’s ever offered. Toyota’s adding it to all vehicles and the automaker’s Lexus luxury brand.

The 2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV's hybrid drivetrain produces 437 hp and 583 lb-ft of torque.
The 2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV's hybrid drivetrain produces 437 hp and 583 lb-ft of torque.

The front and middle rows of seats have plenty of room. The middle seats tip and tumble for rear access. Toyota dropped the previous model’s sliding second row in favor of giving the rear seat slide six inches of front-rear travel. A power-folding third row is available.

The cargo compartment has a useful adjustable shelf for multilevel loads.

The climate controls consist of two rows of buttons in the center console. There’s a handy dial for audio volume, but you have to use the touch screen or steering wheel controls for tuning, track, etc.

Easy to use climate controls in the 2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV.
Easy to use climate controls in the 2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV.

The Sequoia is quiet on the road. The Capstone’s insulated front side windows contribute to the peaceful cabin, but engine and road noise are also minimal.

The hybrid drivetrain provides plenty of power for confident acceleration.

Safety and driver assistance features

  • Adaptive cruise control

  • Automatic high beams

  • Front collision alert

  • Pedestrian detection

  • Nighttime bicycle detection

  • Intersection assist

  • Lane departure alert and assist

  • Blind spot and cross traffic alerts

  • Trailer merge warning

  • Front and rear parking assist with automatic braking

Towing, off-road performance? Meh.

The 2023 Sequoia’s 9,520-pound towing capacity is a whopping 2,100 more than the old model, and more than competing SUVs offer.

The 2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV with a 7,500-lb. boat.
The 2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV with a 7,500-lb. boat.

I towed a boat that weighed about 7,500 pounds about 15 miles through rolling countryside on a two-lane road. Acceleration was outstanding, but trailer sway was very noticeable, despite the largely straight route and smooth surface. My experience with the competitors suggests they’ll be less nerve-wracking over a long day’s haul.

The Sequoia handled on a short off-road course that included several short steep hills, piles of dirt and fording water up to around the bottom of the doors. The drivetrain requires you to stop and shift into neutral before shifting from rear-drive to four-wheel high, and then again from four high to low. Most competitors allow you to shift from rear- to four-wheel drive on the fly. They all have to come to a stop before accessing the low range.

2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV
2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV

2023 Toyota Sequoia at a glance

Base price: $58,300 (all prices exclude destination charge)

Rear- or four-wheel drive 7- or 8-passenger hybrid SUV

On sale fall 2023

Specifications as tested:

Primary model driven: Sequoia Capstone 4x4

Price as tested: $78,300

Drivetrain: Hybrid, with 3.5L V6 and 36 kW electric motor.

Output: 437 hp; 583 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

EPA fuel economy estimate: NA

EPA estimated annual fuel cost: NA

Wheelbase: 122 inches

Length: 208.1 inches

Width: 79.6 inches

Height: 74.2-77.7 inches, depending on model  

Cargo volume: 11.5-22.3 cubic feet behind rear seat, depending on seat position; 49 behind middle row seats; 86.9 behind front

Curb weight: 5,620-6,185 pounds, depending on model

Towing capacity: 9,520 pounds

Assembled in San Antonio, Texas

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: 2023 Toyota Sequoia SUV adds hybrid drivetrain and $78K top model