The 2023 Sequoia is much more powerful and should also get better fuel economy.
Towing is also way up, and the interior is modernized.
But the 2023 model loses the 2022's independent rear suspension and roll-down hatch glass, and has much less room inside.
The outgoing Toyota Sequoia, introduced for 2008, was long overdue for a redesign, and the new 2023 model addresses some longstanding shortcomings—namely interior design and fuel economy. But it also regresses in some ways, owing to platform-sharing with the Tundra and the Land Cruiser. While most big body-on-frame SUVs have traded solid rear axles for independent rear suspension, the Sequoia went in the other direction, with the 2008-2022 model's IRS replaced with a solid rear axle. That single change brings lots of consequences—not so much in terms of driving experience, but packaging.
Engine and Transmission
Under the hood, Toyota made huge improvements, with the Sequoia borrowing the Tundra's hybrid powertrain—a twin-turbo 3.4-liter V-6 and an electric motor teaming up for 437 hp and 583 pound-feet of torque, running through a 10-speed automatic transmission. Those are big gains over the old truck's 5.7-liter V-8 and its 381 hp and 401 pound-feet and six-speed automatic.
Unfortunately, Toyota didn't take the opportunity to update the transfer case, which remains a part-time affair for four-wheel-drive models, meaning there's no automatic all-wheel-drive mode to help put down that power on dry (or wet) pavement. But towing increases from a maximum of 7400 pounds to 9520 pounds. And fuel economy should make drastic gains compared to the old 4WD Sequoia's 14 mpg EPA combined rating. The 2023 model's ratings aren't yet available, but the 4WD hybrid Tundra is rated at 20 mpg combined.
Cargo and Passenger Space
The 2023 model's rear suspension trades the prior model's independent setup for a multilink solid axle, with predictable consequences for the interior. Although the 2023 and 2022 Sequoias ride on the same 122.0-inch wheelbase and the new model is three inches longer overall, that live axle under the floor eats up a ton of interior space—cargo volume with all the seats folded declines from 120 cubic feet in the old Sequoia to just 87 cubic feet in the new one—barely more than the 84 cubic feet offered in the smaller Highlander.
Since the third row seats no longer fold flat, Toyota includes a shelf system that slides in behind the folded seats to create a flat (albeit extremely high) load floor. Those third row seats now slide fore and aft, to trade legroom for cargo space, but even in their most passenger-friendly position, the 2023 model loses 1.6 inches of legroom to its predecessor. It also sacrifices three inches of shoulder room. And while headroom is similar, it's evident how they managed that while packaging the solid axle beneath—the bottom cushion is now angled very flat and close to the floor.
We'd also guess that the rear differential is now the low point of the underbody running gear, since ground clearance also takes a hit—a regular 4WD 2022 Sequoia had 10.0 inches of ground clearance, compared to 8.6 inches on most 4WD 2023 models and 9.1 inches on the TRD Pro. Off-road, the old Sequoia also benefited from a sharper approach angle (it has three fewer inches of front overhang than the new one) and a tighter turning circle, which goes from 38.1 feet for the 2022 Sequoia to as much as 44.5 feet for the 2023 TRD Pro. That'll definitely be noticeable in parking lots.
Interior, Features, Pricing
The new Sequoia's interior is modernized and upgraded with better materials (for instance, optional semi-aniline leather) and an available 14-inch center touchscreen and a color head-up display. But it no longer offers any rear-seat entertainment system and it loses a signature feature beloved on the prior Sequoia and current 4Runner: the power roll-down rear hatch glass. There's now a flip-up rear window.
Pricing for the 2022 model ranged from $51,995 to $72,270, with a 4WD Limited checking in at $64,240. The 2023 models start at $59,795 and hit $79,795 in loaded Capstone trim. A 2023 4WD Limited costs $69,195, about $5,000 more than last year.
Overall, the new Sequoia makes big gains in power, efficiency and towing but sacrifices interior usability. That's how it stacks up against its predecessor, and we hope we'll soon get a chance to see how it compares to its current body-on-frame rivals from GM, Ford and Jeep.
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