2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone 4×4 Review: Cylinders Lost, Performance Gained

Cameron Neveu

Men! How tall are you?

If you answered less than six feet, your odds of playing in the NBA are 1 in 1.2 million. Sorry, short kings, you’ve got your work cut out for you. However, if you answered more than seven feet, this is where things get interesting. Males measuring seven feet or taller have a 1-in-7 shot of being a pro baller.

Views are certainly clearer at that altitude. The same odds could surface when shopping for full-size sport utilities. Take the Sequoia, for example. Toyota’s long-running full-size sport utility doesn’t face the same competition—in terms of quantity of competitors—seen by mid-size and compact SUVs. Toyota only really has to outduel its domestic counterparts for the attention of buyers shopping for big rigs with a rear hatch—tackle the Tahoe and subdue the Suburban. Exterminate the Expedition. Whoop the Wagoneer. I’ll stop.

In case you missed it, Toyota rolled out a new Sequoia for the 2023 model year, replacing the old generation that had graced streets and trails since 2008. The all-new three-row truck ditched the tried-and-true 5.7-liter V-8 for a twin-turbo V-6 hybrid powertrain across all trim levels. What it lost in cylinder count it made up on the stat sheet; Toyota’s new big tree delivers almost 50 more horsepower and can haul nearly one ton more than the outgoing model. On the flip side, Toyota also scrapped the power roll-down rear glass beloved by the model’s most faithful buyers.

I quite enjoyed my time in the old Sequoia, which we used as a photoshoot support truck in Southern California in 2021. Its lumbering V-8 and leviathan size evoked memories of my family’s old 1996 Suburban. Naturally, I was curious to sample the latest edition.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone
Cameron Neveu

A couple of months ago, a 2023 Sequoia Capstone painted in Supersonic Red arrived at my downtown Detroit doorstep. At first blush, it looks dramatically different than the old rig. Bulbous curves are replaced by numerous edges and angles—less Winnie the Pooh, more Storm Trooper. Its new look shrinks the overall curb presence despite gaining three inches in overall length.

The Sequoia was and always will be big. Appropriately, the new generation’s assembly was moved from Toyota’s Princeton, Indiana, assembly plant to San Antonio, Texas, alongside its bed-carrying brother, the Toyota Tundra. From the front glass forward, the new Sequoia is virtually identical to the new Tundra. Underneath, even more twinning ensues. The Sequoia has the same underpinnings as Toyota’s big pickup. In fact, the fully boxed steel frame, dubbed TNGA-F in ‘Yota-speak, shares its architecture with everything from the Tundra to the Land Cruiser to the Lexus GX and more.

The 3.4-liter V-6 between those rails can be had in the Tundra, too. The 437-horsepower hybrid plant delivers 583 lb-ft of torque and a 9000-pound towing capacity. The electric generator of Toyota’s i-Force MAX hybrid system is found within the bell housing between the engine and the 10-speed automatic transmission. As with most tech, this could prove divisive for Sequoia buyers of old, who preferred the dead-nuts simple naturally aspirated V-8 engine.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone i-Force Max V-6 hybrid engine

Fed by a 1.87-kWh battery, the electric motor does its part to deliver a combined 20 miles per gallon for a four-wheel-drive Sequoia, an improvement of three MPG over the old engine. The rear-wheel-drive Sequoia does two better at 22 miles per gallon. Out on the road, the hybrid engine packs plenty of punch for quick merging and stoplight pulls. Coming to that stop was curious, though, as the brake pedal was softer than I expected. Still, it was a smooth ride throughout and, despite the increase in length, the new truck felt more maneuverable.

Specs: 2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone 4×4

  • Price: $76,865/$80,906 (Base/as tested)
  • Powertrain: 3.4-liter twin-turbo hybrid V-6, 10-speed automatic transmission
  • Horsepower/Torque: 389 hp, 479 lb-ft (engine only), 437 hp, 583 lb-ft (hybrid combined)
  • Layout: four-wheel-drive, four-door, seven-passenger sedan
  • Curb Weight: 6185 lbs
  • EPA-rated fuel economy: 19 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, 20 mpg combined
  • 0–60 mph: 5.6 seconds
  • Competitors: Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon, Jeep Wagoneer, Nissan Armada

The Sequoia’s overall footprint feels smaller from the driver’s seat. Chopping almost three inches from the overall height of the vehicle surely has something to do with it. Combining this lower-slung feel with a more responsive engine creates an overall sportier package. The pivot from an independent rear suspension layout to a multi-link system with a stick axle doesn’t noticeably hinder the ride quality in the new-gen rig.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone
Cameron Neveu

Reverting back to a live-axle rear layout, something the first-generation Sequoia (2000–2007) had but the second-gen model ditched, is especially noteworthy when you size up the competition. The headline change for the latest iteration of GM’s full-sizers was their switch to an independent rear layout. Ford’s big box has been without a stick axle for more than 20 years.

The ride is also enhanced by exceptional seats that are both comfortable and quite handsome in Capstone’s exclusive white and black leather. This luxury trim line (think GMC Denali) is quite a handsome package, with several touches, like the digital gauge cluster, the drive mode selector, and the radio knob, that look like actual architectural capstones.

The Cap’ is the top dog among Sequoia’s five trims. Among its glint and glimmer, 22-inch rims, American Walnut interior trim, and power running boards top the list. (Pro tip: Do not hop into the truck with haste lest you prefer your shins to collide with the lowering boards.) It’s a truly luxurious feel that no doubt will give the Yukon Denali and the Grand Wagoneer a run for their woodgrain. The Capstone is also the only Sequoia grade to feature acoustic glass in the front doors for more exterior sound deadening. Despite this hush-hush tech, we did notice a faint whistle from the driver’s side door at highway speeds.

At this level of opulence, you’re also treated to a 14-speaker JBL sound system. Toyota’s premier stereo is right up there with GM’s Bose systems in volume and sound quality but still needs some refinement before competing with Acura’s or Volvo’s more luxurious speaker sets from ELS and Bowers & Wilkins.

Sound and climate are easy to control from the driver’s seat, with a 14-inch infotainment screen underlined by a set of physical climate control buttons. Steering wheel buttons are logically placed for cruise control, sound, and scrolling through telemetry on the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. The angled wireless phone-charging pocket saves console space and prevents the phone from sliding should you take the big tree off-road. (Oh, and thank goodness for a USB-A on the dash!)

Back-seat passengers have three types of charging options as well as a pared-down climate control interface. Similarly styled captain’s chairs are a bit more rigid but just as comfortable as their front-seat counterparts. The third row folds, but not flat—a consequence of the new stick axle over the retired independent rear suspension. Should you wish to haul loads beyond a few suitcases, give some additional thought about how many people are tagging along.

When tested, the 2023 Sequoia Capstone exceeds an $80K price tag after factoring in delivery fees. This is where things get dicey. You can buy a lot of truck for that kind of dough—a new Escalade starts at $83K, though with much fewer options included.

Even at the base trim level, the Sequoia skews on the pricier side of most full-size SUVs. A brand-new base 2024 Sequoia—which is unchanged from the 2023 model—is more expensive than Tahoe, Yukon, or Expeditions and just a bit less money than a Grand Wagoneer. Still, depending on options and trim levels, Sequoia is right in the mix and should be on your shopping list.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone
Cameron Neveu

For my money, I’m still taking a Suburban, though I think that has more to do with my affinity for the Bowtie. If you’re in the market for a hybrid-powered full-size SUV, the new Sequoia is the only game in town. Sit down, “1-in-7,” this new truck has a 100-percent chance of playing in primetime.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone 4×4

Price: $76,865/$80,906 (Base/as tested)

Highs: More horses and pulling power, feels more maneuverable, handsome styling that shrinks overall curb presence.

Lows: Stick axle eats into cargo space, pricey at lux trim level, no more V-8 or power back glass.

Summary: The all-new Toyota Sequoia loses cylinders, but the performance and curb appeal gains are signficant.


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    Good grief the prices on these are just ……. yikes. I could say another colorful phrase for the price (WTF) but you get the idea. It is interesting that you link to your review of the 2022 Sequoia TRD Pro. As tested in that review, it cost $66,499. Since this review is for a Capstone, I just went to the Toyota site and built an apples-to-apples new Sequoia TRD Pro (w- pano roof). The cost for the new one? $81,460 !!! So in just one (1) year, the new version costs 22.5% MORE?! For what?! Huh? Why? What the …….

    This just isn’t sustainable. Much like the $103K GMC Sierra HD AT4X AEV (there’s a mouthful) from yesterday, these prices are cuckoo, are insane, are crazycakes, are nutso, etc. I am blessed and make a very good living in a low cost of living area. But even for me, paying that much for these is almost unthinkable. Do the people that actually buy these have some sort of super-secret special discount code or something? Because if they do, I’d like to be in on the secret please.

    I love my 2008 5.7L RWD Sequoia. If some one wrecks it, I’ll buy another just like it. It has been totally reliable , can get 20 mpg on the straight & level, and has towed my 25′ travel trailer all over the USA getting the same MPG as the new version does when towing. 3rd row folds flat, power tailgate window. Works for me!
    And its long, long paid for….its best feature!

    Some gains and some losses here. But the price increase is just nuts. This thing is just too much. I thought Toyota said that the big Land Cruiser had to go away because the price was too high and now this thing is basically sitting at the same price. It’s just out of control everywhere. I keep getting told the economy is great and inflation is down.

    I have driven a Toyota since my 1982 Celica. I currently own a 2004 Tundra Limited with 93K miles on it and
    the 4.7L V8. I will drive it until it (or I) die. I leased it for years then bought it outright. That being said, the front end of the Sequoia (and Tundra) are just butt ugly in my opinion. It looks like the radiator was just plastered on the nose of both. I can’t say much for the styling of other Toyota models as well. If this trend keeps up, if or when my Tundra goes I will be looking at other dependable and much less harsh looking brands. (Hello Nissan Titan?). Hopefully cheaper as well (my very 1st mortgage was $60 K).

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