Toyota's all-new Sequoia brings the big SUV up to date

By Jim Meachen

(January 28, 2024) Big SUVs have traditionally been powered by big V-8 engines. The all-new Toyota Sequoia bucks that trend setting a new course with a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 hybrid. The powerful engine-electric motor combination pulls the three-ton body-on-frame truck with confidence making 437-total horsepower and a massive 538 pound-feet of torque.

With that kind of brawn you would expect towing capacity that can handle big things like horse trailers, travel trailers, and large boats. And the Sequoia delivers for weekend adventures with 9,520 pounds of towing capacity and a payload of 1,730 pounds.

Owners of big SUVs also want the kind of on-road performance that demands fast merging onto interstate highways and the ability to quickly pass a slower-moving vehicle, and the Sequoia has that in spades with a 0-60 time of 5.6 seconds (Car and Driver) and a 4.3-second time from 50 to 70 mph.

The Sequoia not only gets the electrified engine from the new Tundra truck, but also takes on the front-end styling with a large in-your-face grille. No surprise, the big-grille look has become a staple of Toyota and Lexus design. The overall appearance is pleasingly modern, and looks quite fetching from every angle.  

This is only the third generation of the Sequoia, which has been on the market since 2000 — the second generation was introduced in 2007 — in an automotive world that runs on 5-to-6 year generation cycles. After languishing in obscurity over the past few years, overtaken by newer vehicles, the Sequoia has been modernized in about every way possible starting with the hybrid V6 engine and an independent suspension.

We were pleased with the performance. If you think you will miss a V-8 engine, you will probably have very few withdrawal pangs once behind the wheel. All the motivational urgency is right at hand with the twin-turbocharged V-6 delivering the goods through at 10-speed automatic transmission. Gas mileage is average for a vehicle of this size and capability, measured at 19 mpg city, 22 highway and 20 combined — and importantly on cheaper regular gas.

At the same time, the Sequoia offers a very compliant ride on hard pavement, and it felt stable and secure when the roads became curving. Light and accurate steering plus the responsive engine and smooth-shifting transmission makes it easy to negotiate the traffic of everyday life. The Sequoia can also present an off-road demeanor especially with the TRD Pro package that includes off-road equipment such as upgraded Fox dampers, a front skid plate, a locking rear differential, and forged 18-inch wheels with 33-inch tires.

We will leave reporting of the Sequoia's off-road prowess to others as all of our 250 miles of driving was on-road in the Platinum trim.

While we had no complaints about the ride even with its solid rear-axle suspension design, we did encountered what we thought was excessive road and wind noise at highway speeds — not expected in a vehicle of this sophistication and price range.

We discovered how easy it is to enter the SUV thanks to the optional well-placed step rails and large squared-off door openings. It's not often you get running boards in exactly the right place for a one-two step onboard, and we give Sequoia top billing in this regard. Once inside, the second-row captain's chairs provide easy access to the third row if you have those seats in play, and grab handles are readily available providing good leverage for those who need it. Important to us, we had no problem reaching an optimum seating potion behind the wheel.  

On the downside, we discovered the Sequoia isn't as spacious or accommodating for passengers as many other large SUVs. The battery under the floor takes up considerable room and prevents the third-row seats from folding flat. And the second-row does not slide forward and aft to create more legroom like in most big sport utility vehicles. Cargo capacity is adequate with 22.3 cubic feet behind the third row and 86.9 cubic feet with all seatbacks folded. By comparison, the same-size Chevrolet Tahoe offers 25.5 cubic feet behind the seats and 122.9 cubic feet with all seats folded.

As you would expect, the Sequoia comes with the latest technology and a long list of standard safety features. The focal point of the interior is the large and impressive 14.0-inch touchscreen, which is standard in all but the base model. It features Toyota’s latest infotainment software, which offers smartphone-mirroring and other connectivity options including a Wi-Fi hotspot and various music-streaming options.

All of the Sequoia’s available driver-assistance features come standard on all models. Included are forward-collision warning and automated braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control.

The Sequoia comes in five trim levels — SR5, Limited, Platinum, TRD Pro and Capstone. Prices start at $59,960 for the SR5 and range up to $77,960 for the loaded Capstone. Our Platinum test truck carried a bottom line of $79,379, with several options including load leveling air suspension ($1,045) and the excellent power extending running boards ($1,005). What we could have done without are the huge power extending tow mirrors for $290, although we know there are a few people who presumably need them for towing. Destination charge was $1,595.

The comprehensive bumper-to-bumper warranty is a standard three years or 36,000 miles and the powertrain warranty is five years or 60,000 miles.

2023 Toyota Sequoia


Base price: $59,960; as driven, $79,379
Engine: twin turbocharged V-6, electric motor
Horsepower: 437 @ 5,200 rpm
Torque: 583 pound-feet @ 2,400 rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Drive: 4WD
Seating: /2/2/3
Wheelbase: 122 inches
Length: 208.1 inches
Curb weight: 6,150 pounds
Turning circle: 40.2 feet
Towing capacity: 9,010 pounds
Luggage capacity: 22.3 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 86.9 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 22.5 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 19 city, 22 highway, 20 combined
0-60: 5.6 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition, Jeep Wagoneer

The Good
• Excellent power from hybrid drivetrain
• High maximum towing capacity
• Comfortable ride

The Bad
• Noticeable wind noise at highway speeds
• Snug fit for adults in third row

The Ugly
• Uneven load floor