2023 Toyota Sequoia 4WD Capstone Hybrid – Review by David Colman +VIDEO
The glorious majesty of a stately Sequoia…SUV
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
An army of tree-trimming trucks and personnel was parked on the road near my house, a bivouac of sorts at the end of a hard day spent clearing power lines. As I slowly drove by the assembled troops in Toyota's all new 2023 Capstone Sequoia, I noted the Blueprint Metallic SUV was garnering a fair number of passing glances. Maybe it was the sparkling paint of this newly redesigned SUV that attracted eyeballs.
Or perhaps it was the bling of its massive 22-inch dark chrome alloy wheels shod with buff Bridgestone Dueler H/T rubber (265/50R22). Most likely, it was the sheer slab-sided bulk of this 6,179lb. monster truck that riveted the attention of tired guys who drive big trucks for a living.
Toyota has finally retired the long-in-the-tooth previous generation Sequoia for an all-new model which is again based on the latest Tundra truck platform. That connection endows the three-row Sequoia with a wheelbase of 122 inches and a length of 208 inches. For those of you with 20-foot-long garages, that means you will have just 30 inches to spare when you park this beast inside for the night. What it means on the open road, however, is more cabin space in every direction than you would find in a Greyhound bus. And with the Toyota's road narrowing width of 79.6 inches, you will often feel like you're piloting a Greyhound bus. For the week, Toyota left the driving to us, and we found that keeping track of the Sequoia's disparate corners could be a challenge, especially around town.
Toyota offers 5 models in the Sequoia lineup, with prices starting at $59,895 for the SR5, climbing to $66,295 for the Limited, $72,495 for the Platinum, and $78,300 for the Capstone edition we drove. A TRD Pro model for serious off-road endeavors is also available at a $700 premium over the base price of our vehicle. The addition of a $499 "Dash Cam" brought the all-in price of our test truck to $80,481.
The first thing you notice when climbing up into the cab (an exercise greatly aided by automatic folding running boards) is the over-the-top lavishness of the interior. White and black semi-aniline leather-trimmed captain's chairs stake a claim to row one and row two, with a triple seat third-row split bench holding down the stern. You can increase the seating count from 7 to 8 by selecting a bench for row 2 instead of the twin chairs of our test model. Ironically, with all 7 seats occupied by passengers, there's precious little storage space available behind the third-row bench for luggage. Of course, if you're not transporting 7, you can fold the rear split bench by pressing a pair of handy buttons located inside the rear hatch.
Doing so, however, raises another problem. When folded, the rear bench stands significantly taller than the surrounding area, so you end up with a staged (rather than flat) loading area for luggage and the like. Folding the twin captain's chairs in the second row also leads to another problem: gaping spaces between the seats and the folded third-row bench leave you with no flat floor to support large or unwieldy objects. Toyota could make better use of the Sequoia's 89 cubic feet of storage space by supplying flat floor panels to facilitate cargo loading.
All Sequoia models are now hybrids, powered by a twin-turbocharged 389hp 3.4-liter V6 gasoline engine augmented with a 48hp AC motor. The combined output of the hybrid "I-Force Max" drivetrain is 437hp and a whopping 583lb.-ft. of torque. I have towed a race car to many events over the years with a 260hp Chevy van making 220lb.-ft. of torque. Rolling a load over the Sierra with that rig was always touch and go. If I were in the market for a new tow truck today, the Capstone Sequoia would be at the top of the list. Tow ratings for the various Sequoia models range from 9000 to 9500 lbs. With its Tundra truck frame, 4WD, and tremendous infusion of torque, there is really nothing on the road that would touch this combination for luxury, and traction in all weather. The fact that Toyota has somehow managed to wangle a fuel economy rating of 20MPG in combined city/highway usage is quite remarkable given the Sequoia's brick-like aerodynamics and significant curb weight.
Driving the Sequoia at night is a soothing experience. The well-labeled dashboard features hidden blue illumination that stretches across all door panels. The motif is capped with an illuminated blue "capstone" identifier above the glove box door. Toyota has fitted the latest Sequoia with an immense 14-inch multimedia touch screen, plus rows of clearly identified physical buttons and switches for important functions. A 12.3-inch digital dashboard augmented by a 10-inch head-up display completes the impressive diorama. The comfort afforded by this environment elevates life on the road from a chore to a treat.
2023 TOYOTA SEQUOIA 4WD CAPSTONE HYBRID
ENGINE: 3.4 Liter V6, twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24 valve + AC motor
HORSEPOWER: 437hp (combined output)
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 19MPG City/22MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $80,481
HYPES: Massive Presence, Ultra Luxury
GRIPES: No Flat Cargo Floor
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10