THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND: In his American folk travelogue Woody Guthrie suggests beginning at [California’s] Redwood Forest following the national highways to the “Gulf Stream Waters.” Of America, nothing says BIG and OLD quite like the Redwood National Forest most renowned immutable flora, the Sequoias or coastal redwoods. “Big” can best be described as upwards of 379 feet height, excluding roots, or a 38 story building. Through dendrochronology “Old” can constitute 1800 years of age.
THIRD REDWOOD TRUNK RING: Similarly, Toyota’s largest land bruising SUV boasts about the segment’s longest span between epochs. It stands to reason that it is named the Sequoia. Thus after 15 immutable years the Japanese automaker adds a third growth ring based on the re-designed Tundra half-ton pickup truck, in the 2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone Hybrid 4×4.
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WHAT: 2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone 4×4 3- Row off-road capable, full-sized, body on frame sport utility vehicle. Third generation Toyota Sequoia, coded XK80, replaces the XK60 which dated back to 2007. It’s built off a shared TNGA GA-F body on frame platform shared with the supercrew XK70 Tundra half ton pickup truck with a full cargo compartment grafted aft and the XK70 J310 Lexus LX 600 flagship SUV, both completely redesigned for model year 2022.
Standard Hybrid Powertrain: iForce Max intercooled twin-turbocharged 3.5L DOHC 24V DI gas V-6 w/ idle Start/ Stop = 389 hp / 479 lb-ft @ 2400 rpm + 10-spd. torque converter planetary automatic transmission + 2-speed automatic w/ electronic transfer case 1.00 : 2.64 4-wheel drive to an open front & 3:31:1 ratio E-limited slip rear differentials + ATRAC 4-wheel drive traction control.
Supplemented By: 1 parallel hybrid x 650 V AC synchronous pole permanent magnet electric motor, located between engine and transmission; MG 2 = 48 hp (36 kW), 184 lb-ft, 1.86 kWh 288V, Nickel Metal Hydride battery (beneath cargo bed).
NET Hybrid Power Rating = 437 hp / 583 lb-ft @ 2400 rpm
- = -3 hp, +73 lb-ft vs. Ford Expedition 3.5 Ecoboost; +17 hp, + 115 lb-ft vs. Jeep Wagoneer 3.0T Hurricane
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: The previous 15 years of Toyota’s big sport utility was a block of lumber curved at the corners with a lathe, jazzed up by the nominal hexagon chromed grille. The 2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone captures the majesty of the imposing redwood adopting more pronounced fenders and hips. Embracing the Tundra’s LED lateral boomerang headlamps, it rejects the latter’s fanged look. Instead the grille is a modest sprucing of the predecessor’s wide hexagon, filled with metallic latticing, while off-road driving are embedded in a lower metallic bash plate. The hood has a tandem creased center valley with twin darkened “iFORCEMAX” vent caps near the windshield.
The beltline descends from the windshield rising to a slight kink at the C-pillar. The lower body cheatline valley is filled by an matter metallic lateral hockey stick with “CAPSTONE” set in a black bezel. Door handles, lower window framing, and sail panel mount wing mirror caps are all satin metallic banded. The body colored roof spills over the edges smoothly (with rain gutters inboards). The “A” pillars are darkened to match the rest imparting a “floating roof” over uninterrupted glass effect. The darkened greenhouse contrasts with the sparkling Wind Chill Pearl finish.
The “D” pillar trailing edge cants forward allowing the curved lifgate glass to peer around the corners. Taillights have finally entered modern times. Lateral boomerang housings, spanned by a chrome subglass bar, boast sequential segmented LEDs, wrapping far around the rear quarter panels. The lower liftgate inverted trapezoid license plate bowl is underscored by the model designation in wide spaced chrome lettering. The bumper extended from the rear quarter panel is body color matched with a dark contrast band. A matte metallic rear simulated bash plate finishes the lower rear valance.
WHY: Driving from the Redwood forests to the Gulfstream waters, this large SUV was made for you and me.
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since late Summer 2022
WHERE: Toyota new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: San Antonio, Texas U.S.A.
WHERE TO: available electronically on-the-fly selectable two-speed transfer case, locking Torsen center differential four wheel drive; Open front & rear differential; ABS Hill descent control; 5-Mode Terrain Management; 9.7″ clearance = Snow commanding, mud + sand raking & light off-roading.
HOW ROADWORTHY: All third generation XK80 Sequoias were launched with the latest iForce Max twin turbo V-6. The new power plant outguns the XK60’s creamy 5.7 twin cam V-8 with diesel-like low speed crank spin. Thanks to weight kept in check, through aluminum apertures and body panels, there is admirable briskness without drama. The four gear wealthier 10-speed planetary automatic transmission avoids much hunting, endowing the 2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone with usable rev matched braking. Exhibiting a pleasantly subdued rumble under load it is no surprise that an unelectrified version of the powertrain powers the platform-mate Lexus LX 600 flagship SUV.
HOW LIMBER: Borrowing heavily from the XK70 Tundra’s suspension architecture, the re-designed 2023 Toyota Sequoia has also progressed to progressive coil springs (instead of leafs). The subject tested Sequoia Capstone was missing the optional rear air springs and yet there is nary a betrayal of the retained rigid axle. Despite the large 22″ alloys, the new Toyota Sequoia Capstone is smooth ride while no slouch in discipline. Front double wishbone links provides predictable turn in and tracking. It is rather a shame that ample brake discs, with monoblock multi-piston front calipers, are actuated by a rather numb foot pedal.
HOW FAR: 18 mpg combined fuel economy; 495 miles highway range running 87 AKI unleaded fuel.
- observed combined fuel economy = +0% vs. Ford Expedition 3.5 Ecoboost V-6 ; = + 15% vs. iForce twin-cam 5.7L V-8 w/ 6-speed automatic XV60 Sequoia
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: √ 7 Occupant seating = full-size 2+3+3 SUV style: Row 3 = Sufficient knee & head room for 2 adults < 5’10” & 1 juvenile; √ Optional 2nd Row captain chairs pare occupancy by one; √ Rows 1 & 2 chairs and benches are generous of width; √ Panoramic moonroof with power sunshade = hurts that 3rd Row headroom; √ Cavernous cargo hold is envied by nearly all of the competition.
- Wheelbase: 102.0″ inches = -0.5 vs. Ford Expedition; -1.0″ vs. Jeep Wagoneer
- Row 2/3 legroom: 39.2″ / 33.7″ = +2.3″/ 2.4″ vs. Ford Expedition; +3.5″ /+2.9 vs. Jeep Wagoneer
- Cargo volume (nom./ max.): 22.3/ 86.9 cu.ft. = +13%/ -18% vs. Ford Expedition; -19%/ -8% vs. Jeep Wagoneer
HOW USEFUL: √ Comfort approach variable height power liftgate; √ manually sliding, tilting, flat folding 2nd Row captain’s chairs w/ one touch jackknife slide 3rd Row access; √ sliding, power flat folding 60/40% split 3rd Row, √ Power remote cargo area 3rd Row seat fold; +1 Truck size 1st & 2nd Row door pocket & center armrest space; +1 3rd Row wall storage, USB x 2; -1 No flip-open liftgate window; -1 Distant reach to glove box; -1 Marginal sub cargo floor storage; Tow Rating: -1 Below average for class
- Tow rating: 8890 pounds = -310 lbs vs. Ford Expedition; -1110 lbs. vs. Jeep Wagoneer
- Payload rating: 1375 pounds = -745 lbs. vs. Ford Expedition; -115 lbs. vs. Jeep Wagoneer
HOW SAFE: IIHS Not Yet Rated ( MY 2023 Toyota Tundra Top Safety Pick Plus; STANDARD: √ 8 airbags; √ Rear camera w/ predictive grid; √ Audible rear park assist; √ Roll mitigation;
Toyota Safety Sense P 2.5 (STANDARD): √ Rear camera; √ STANDARD Toyota SafetySense 2.0 = √ Pedestrian detection braking; √ Forward collision avoidance braking; √ Lane Departure Warning, Keep Assist w/ Trace Control; √ Partial adaptive cruise control; √ Automatic high beam LED headlamps; √ 2nd Row occupant minder
AVAILABLE Safety Features (included on Capstone trim vehicles):
√ ♦ Full adaptive cruise control; ♦ 360° surround camera view Perimeter Scan w/ park assist; ♦ Heads Up Display; ♦ Video feed rear view mirror; ♦ Steer adaptive mulit-LED headlamps; ♦ Rain sensing intermittent windshield wipers; ♦ Trailer straight line back-up guidance grid.
HOW FRIENDLY: Truck-based cabin refinement has truly picked up in the past 5 years. With the addition of an all new flagship the expectations for an opulently furnished Toyota Sequoia were high. No doubt there is an elegance about the 2023 Sequoia Capstone, generous open pore wood accents, mirror chromed audio speaker grills, super-sized media display and fairly robust assembly. Details mirror those aboard the Tundra Capstone pickup. Much of the final rendering has caught-up to the mid level trims of the competing truck based SUVs, and hasn’t quite raised the bar relative to the adversaries’ Limiteds, Denalis, and Series III’s.
Sequoia Capstone as the apogee of the line boats satin finish leather hides with expected contrast tandem stitching. Still, some panel gaps are obvious, some switches, particularly on the steering wheel spokes, seem rudimentary, the gauge cluster is less variable than others in the class, and the olfactory nerves couldn’t detect tannery aroma. The pod attached landscape infotainment tablet, while enormous, doesn’t emit the grandeur of embedded units like the gorgeous U-Connect 5 in the Jeep Wagoneer.
√ Leather seating, heated & cooled front, 14-way power w/ driver’s 2-setting memory; √ Heated + cooled Row 2 seats w/ aft 1st Row center console climate controls, power + connectivity; √ 3-zone auto climate control; √ 3rd Row headliner climate vents; √ Power folding heated side mirrors; √ 4 Pillar grab handles; √ Dual analog gauge cluster flanking colorized multi-function LCD display; √ Heated power tilt/ telescoping leather wrapped steering wheel w/ horizontal spoke ventral side MFI & driver assist controls & dorsal side audio switches; √ Power adjusting pedals; √ 2nd Row Tandem contrast stitched soft-touch upper dash-top & door elbow panels; √ Panorama moonroof, power sliding front pane.
+1 Cool Gizmo(s): Monster 14.0″ tablet pod mount multi-media screen.
Details Done Right: √ Semi-aniline leather seating; √ Partly tailored tucked seam, contrast stitched leatherette console, dashboard & doors; √ Dense pile carpet; √ Walnut wood door, console & dashboard veneers; √ Micro suede headliner; √ Blue ambient cabin night illumination w/ “CAPSTONE” dashboard lettering illuminated
Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Hard plastic finished pillars w/ scant grab bar leather wrapping; Coarse grain below waist-height, pillar, aft cabin wall plastic cabin trim; Steering wheel spoke controls lack tactile distinctiveness; Non-fluid door and secondary switch action; Cheezy faux metal door speaker grilles.
- +1 Little road noise in cabin
- +1 Work related controls work glove handed operational
- -1 Hard dark large grain plastics dominate below the belt
- -1 Industrial looking and feeling switchgear
- -1 Some interior rattles, some wind noise at speed
HOW CONNECTED: √ Toyota Connected center dash tablet 14.0″-inch landscape oriented, capacitive touch LCD infotainment screen (replaces base model 8.0″ touch screen); √ Drive Connect “Hey Toyota” system voice interaction; √ Bluetooth hands-free communications x 2 phones; √ GPS HDD cloud Navigation w/ 3-D map, voice guidance, Google POI data, OTA updates; √ SMS voice to text messaging; √ Wireless Android Auto / Apple CarPlay phone projection; √ USB-A x 2, USB-C x 4, 12V x 1 120V AC x 2, 400W ( 2nd Row, cargo bay); √ Qi inductive wireless device charging pad x 2 devices
- +1 New Toyota Connected infotainment user interface enhances intuitive voice command functions; Bluetooth handsfree connection for two phones simultaneously
- +/- When is a tablet style infotainment screen too large?
- -1 Non-concealed forward center console wireless device storage
HOW ENTERTAINING: √ 14-speaker, 1200 watt, 12-channel JBL Quantum-Logic DTS w/ Clari-Fi audio powerful but booms the bass notes
HOW “APP” -LICABLE:
√ wireless Android Auto / Apple Car Play smart phone projection; √ Toyota Apps
By Subscription: √ Sirius XM Traffic, Metro Weather radio & TravelLink apps (5 yrs. included); √ Wi-Fi hot spot (by Verizon Wireless)
By Subscription (trial): ♦ Sirius XM radio (3 mo.); ♦ WiFi by AT&T (2 GB trial); ♦ Toyota Connected Services (3 yrs.)
HOW MUCH: $80,906 = 2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone 4×4 iForce Max, as tested.
WHAT’S MISSING: Less accelerator pedal dead spot; Steering wheel shift paddles; Nicer finished cabin pillar grab handles
ANY COMPETITION: Ford Expedition Limited: +1 plush ride & furnishings; GMC Yukon Denali : +1 cheaper than Escalade; Jeep Wagoneer : +1 off-road capability, state of the art infotainment
FINAL SAY-SO: Dendrochronologist’s choice for large SUV finally sprouts third aging ring.