BETTER LATE THAN EVER: 2023 TOYOTA SEQUOIA
It is hard to fathom just how old the previous generation Toyota Sequoia really was, so let’s put it in perspective. The second-generation Sequoia was launched in November of 2007 and while there have been a few tweaks over the years, the same platform and engine combination carried on through the span of 15 years. In that time, there have been 13 iPhones released. The first-generation iPhone was released the same year as the Sequoia… so just imagine using that same phone today… it would be like trying to get a teenager to use a rotary phone. Luckily, we don’t have to anymore with an all-new Sequoia at our fingertips.
As behemoth family SUV’s goes, the Sequoia is right with the world – styling is proportionate to its size and there is room for 7 to 8 passengers depending on seating configurations. There are several similarities to Tundra carrying the same sort of nose design with a matching styled grille and headlight housing with sequential lighting on my sampled Capstone. It even comes with the same 22-inch wheels. At least the rear is different, for obvious reasons with stylish LED taillights and muscular charm in its lines; after all who doesn’t enjoy a nice-looking caboose.
The same concept goes for the interior sharing nearly the identical design and finish layout as the Tundra Capstone, which means, the Sequoia too is well suited to its large dimensions with its size appropriate dominating centralized 14-inch multimedia touch screen display, nicely appointed leather on the seats and dash and of course, the use of beautiful faux wood. It makes for a very well executed layout that makes a good use of its space and using bulkier elements like the air vents to fill in the gaps.
As expected with any large SUV, comfort and convenience is top priority next to safety. This Capstone comes standard with 2nd row captain’s chairs that provide one handed easy access to the third row. Despite the second-row seats not being able to slide back and forth, the third row on the other hand can and based on your passenger height, it can either maximize or minimize the cargo area in the trunk. All seats are decently comfortable capable of providing as such for a long journey. Second and third row seats are set higher up which can affect headroom for passengers over six-feet tall.
Built on the same platform shared with the Toyota Tundra and Lexus LX600, the Sequoia carries quite the alluring package with an all-new standard turbo-ized hybrid, highly improved fuel economy and the capability to tow over 9500lbs. Gone away with the old school derivative of a V-8 powerplant, Toyota packs a perky 3.4-liter twin-turbocharged hybrid V-6 engine under its hood supplying a sum of 437-horsepower and 583 lb-ft of cheerfully applied torque. Some might think that the lack of V8 engine is a bad thing, but here, it is quite the opposite – the twin-turbo is quick to action providing uncanny smooth acceleration, like a ballerina dancer, the Sequoia feels light on its feet thanks to its creamy smooth 10-speed automatic. The hybrid system is also here not as a fuel economy saver, but rather a performance booster filling in the gaps where the turbos may be playing catch up. It also accounts for the 9500lbs of towing capabilities. However, fuel consumption is far improved over the previous generations 13-mpg as I managed to average 18-mpg’s. EPA rates the Sequoia 19-mpg city / 22-mpg highway / and 20-mpg combined.
Now, we must remember that the Sequoia, especially here in its Capstone badging, is a heavy family vehicle that weights over 9,000 pounds, asking it to perform like a Porsche Macan is like asking an overweight middle-aged dad to fill in for Cristiano Ronaldo on the soccer field. Off the field however, it is as cushy as its beer belly leads it to believe. And driving it like I had a freshly popped out newborn in the backseat, everything rode the way it should with a subtle ride quality with quiet road feedback thanks to the dual pane insulated front glass allowing to take in the forced inducted engine sound giving that proper V-8 note with a hint of turbo spooling. Like quality stitching on a fake Prada bag, I am not even mad, no one has to know the sound is fake.
The Sequoia is available in 5 models starting with the SR5 at $58,365. The Capstone came with its fair share of technological goodies from the 360-degree camera, the digital instrumental cluster display to the impressively updated Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 that adds stop and go adaptive cruise control, forward emergency assistance, lane following assistance and many more safety features. However, given the Capstones $75,000+ sticker price, there were a few oddities that didn’t quite jive with a semi-luxurious package – such as an adaptive dampers or an air suspension that would help cope with some of its agility issues or the fact that while it had a full-time four-wheel drive system, it didn’t have a terrain select management system should nature decide to change its mind from a sunny day to a snowy day.
Overall, as a finally renewed addition to the large SUV segment, I welcome it with open arms as it is something that both returning buyers and new generational buyers will come to appreciate.