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2023 Toyota Sequoia First Drive Review | New and improved, but not enough

Ultimately 12 months’s Toyota HQ Confidential summit, I had an opportunity to drive principally something within the Toyota line-up. I took a Sequoia TRD Professional out on a brief off-road course, and whereas succesful, it was appalling how low cost, flimsy and outdated it felt. Not that it ought to’ve been a shock. The Sequoia had been just about unchanged since its 2008 debut – it had even missed out on the updates made to the Tundra pickup upon which it was primarily based. The total redesign for the 2023 Toyota Sequoia is due to this fact extraordinarily welcome. It is vastly improved so far as the driving expertise, construct high quality, supplies and expertise. That’s the excellent news. The unhealthy information is that it stays effectively behind the full-size SUV leaders in a number of key elements.

As earlier than, the brand new Sequoia is mechanically associated to the Tundra, which incorporates its hybrid twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6. It makes the identical 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque, and is mated to the identical 10-speed automated transmission. Rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel drive can be found, and each Sequoia comes commonplace with a limited-slip rear differential. An digital locking rear differential is accessible. 

Not like the Tundra, although, the hybrid is the one powertrain. Official gas financial system numbers have not been introduced, however Toyota mentioned it ought to be much like the hybrid Tundra. That ought to put it round 20 to 22 mpg mixed relying on drivetrain and trim stage (the TRD Professional with its lack of air dam and barely taller trip top does not precisely have nice aerodynamics). Towing capability maxes out at 9,500 kilos.

2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro

Additionally, whereas the platform, together with its fully-boxed body, is derived from the Tundra, the Sequoia will get a multilink stable rear suspension with a number of choices to reinforce it for particular functions. A rear load-leveling air suspension is accessible on fancier trims; the TRD Sport package deal tunes the suspension for higher on-road dealing with; the TRD Off-Highway package deal will get Bilstein shocks and is derived for higher off-road functionality; and the TRD Professional (pictured above) goes even additional with Fox shocks and its personal distinctive springs. 

Amongst these specs are a couple of highlights. In comparison with its key rivals, the Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon, Ford Expedition and Jeep Wagoneer, the Sequoia boasts essentially the most torque, the very best gas financial system and essentially the most towing capability of any of these gas-powered SUVs. The exception being the diesel Tahoe, which might handle 22 to 24 mpg mixed, however does take costlier gas and makes considerably much less energy.

There are some highlights on the street, too. The hybrid V6 is great. It is extremely clean and quiet, or no less than extraordinarily effectively insulated from the cabin. The cabin normally may be very quiet, notably increased trims with the extra acoustic glass. Press the throttle, and the electrical motor and turbo engine coordinate to offer clean, easy torque, which retains coming all via the rev vary. Push it tougher, and also you get a deep, throaty growl. It is even louder within the TRD Professional, which will get a cat-back exhaust. It fortunately does not change the tone, and the quantity stays low sufficient to not annoy your self or your neighbors. And contemplating the droney, nasal noises different V6s (taking a look at you F-150 Raptor and 4Runner TRD Professional, amongst others), that is fairly spectacular. Moreover, the good, gentle-shifting automated does not deliver consideration to itself. The one exception is the occasional double-downshift attributable to its many ratios, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a step above Ford’s typically out-of-step transmissions.

2023 Toyota Sequoia i-Force Max hybrid engine

Journey high quality is one other wonderful facet of the Sequoia. The chassis particularly feels ultra-solid, and there are hardly any of the wiggles and shimmies present in different body-on-frame full-size SUVs. The suspension tuning is kind of delicate, however is not overly floaty, and it stays secure over bumps. Off-road, the common Sequoia with the TRD Off-Highway package deal is succesful, although the softness has bother coping with abrupt bumps and better speeds. That is the place the TRD Professional is available in with its stiffer suspension tuning that makes it very enjoyable on quicker dust paths. The TRD Professional’s off-road tires, added skid plate and deleted aero spoiler are additionally useful off street.

However now we arrive on the checklist of many Sequoia shortcomings. Initially is dealing with. Even on the low bar set by full-size SUVs, the Sequoia feels fairly barge-like. The steering is mild, imprecise and gradual. Frequent corrections are required to go straight in addition to preserve a line via corners. The delicate suspension ends in numerous physique roll, and it appears like there is a delay between steering inputs and the SUV’s reactions. A Tahoe or Yukon can really feel borderline enjoyable to steer; the Sequoia undoubtedly doesn’t.

Then there’s the inside. It is an incredible transformation in comparison with its predecessor, and has a pleasant, chunky design. The fashionable Toyota infotainment system can also be shiny, responsive and easy, notably on the 14-inch touchscreen that comes on most Sequoia trim ranges. The supplies are actually a lot better than earlier than, however they’re solely simply on par with Ford and GM on the low to mid trims. The range-topping Capstone (pictured beneath) options niceties equivalent to semi-aniline leather-based and walnut wooden trim, however there are sufficient of the fundamental plastic elements poking via that it does not really feel as good as an Expedition Platinum, Yukon Denali or Wagoneer Sequence III.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone interior2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone interior2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone interior

Inside consolation and usefulness is one other drawback. The entrance seats are spacious in each which manner, and the seats are moderately comfy if a bit flat. However every following row has flatter and firmer seats that really feel much less comfy than these within the competitors. The third row particularly is disappointing. The rock-hard bench sits low on the ground, and even if it uniquely slides, legroom is all the time tight. So is headroom. So whereas adults can match, they will not wish to be again there lengthy. Examine that to the third rows of the Expedition, Tahoe and Jeep Wagoneer, which might comfortably accommodate even 6-footers for so long as you want. No less than entry is pretty simple because of the tumble-forward second-row seats.

The most important inside situation, nevertheless, is cargo area. The third-row seats can slide ahead barely, however they can’t be eliminated, nor can they fold flat into the ground. It is because, in accordance with somebody from Toyota, the hybrid battery pack sits beneath the third row, and leaving it in place gives an additional layer of safety. Nonetheless, simply because there’s a purpose for an issue doesn’t imply it’s not an issue. The odd, terraced area is poorly suited to carrying lengthy, cumbersome objects, and though there may be an adjustable cargo shelf obtainable that creates a flat-load ground, the vertical area offered is dramatically lower than what you’d discover elsewhere. The lift-in top is comically excessive, too. 

House behind the third row can also be compromised. It can be as a lot as 22.3 cubic ft, which is akin to the Tahoe/Yukon, Expedition and Wagoneer, however to get that, you must slide the third row all the way in which ahead, making it principally ineffective. Transfer all of it the way in which again and the area shrinks to 11.5 cubic ft, which might be lower than a Mitsubishi Outlander. And whereas the American SUVs have lengthy variants, the Sequoia is accessible in a single physique model solely. 

2023 Toyota Sequoia Limited

Then we come to pricing. The Sequoia begins at $59,795, together with the vacation spot cost. That is between $5,000 and $6,000 greater than the Ford and Chevy. The TRD Professional’s $78,395 price ticket additionally comes effectively above the Expedition Timberline and Tahoe Z71, even when the latter is outfitted with the optionally available 6.2-liter V8 and adaptive air and magnetic suspension. To be honest, the TRD Professional comes with quite a lot of commonplace options that seemingly make it extra succesful than the People off street, such because the digital locking rear differential, Fox shocks and Crawl Management (off-road cruise management). The Capstone is available in at $76,795 with the usual two-wheel drive. That places it a pair thousand north of the Tahoe Excessive Nation, and and few thousand beneath the highest Ford Expedition Platinum. It’s principally even with the range-topping Wagoneer, however effectively wanting the a lot fancier Grand Wagoneer. 

When you’re a Sequoia proprietor or fan that is been ready for a very new instance of the mannequin to commerce as much as, your SUV is lastly right here. It is a galactic leap forward of the outgoing mannequin and can absolutely make current house owners joyful. However when you have no loyalties to Toyota, the very fact is that the American benchmarks stay the very best all-around packages for the person who wants a do-it-all SUV for hauling folks and stuff in consolation and extra.

(Correction: A earlier model of this story acknowledged the Sequoia had an impartial rear suspension. It is really a stable rear axle. The textual content has been up to date to the corrrect data.)

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