2023 Toyota Sequoia Platinum Hybrid AWD - Is bigger for you?

 A little while ago I drove a Lexus LX600, the upscale cousin of the Sequoia, and so help me I liked it. So I should have liked the '23 Sequoia, after all it's almost a Lexus just not as expensive. And what's not to like, it is a Toyota right? 

Toyota, like many other auto makers, opted for smaller, turbocharged engines instead of gas-guzzling V8s. On paper this is a good idea. A 2022 Sequoia with AWD and a 5.7-liter V8 was rated at 13-mpg city and 17-mpg on the highway. The '23 with a twin-turbo, 3.5-liter V6 hybrid is rated at 19 city and 22 highway; a decent improvement. I almost reached to rated highway figure but came way below the combined of 20-mpg with an average of just over 14.

Other than the poor fuel economy I had no complaint with the engine. I mean who can complain about 437 hp or 583 lb-ft of torque? Even weighing over 3 tons the Sequoia can get from 0-60 mph in less than 6 seconds. The 10-speed transmission shifted just fine. The huge brakes (13.9" rotors front, 13.6" rears) were up to the task of slowing the beast when needed. 

If you tow, and that is one area the Sequoia excels at, you can tow up to 9,500 lbs. with certain models. 

I saw a clip on TV about how difficult it is to see objects in the front or rear of so many new vehicles. I remember a time when that was a topic of many reviews. Now of course we have a TV screen to give us a view of our surroundings. So instead of paying attention to the real world we're focused on the screen. My head feels like a bobble head looking side-to-side, front and back, checking all the mirrors and the TV! This isn't just a dig at the Sequoia but look at that massive nose! So a word of caution to pedestrians - if you can't see the driver the driver may not see you.

There isn't a ton of space behind the third row, that shelf is only about 12" deep but I liked the fact that that you can hide little things under the lowest setting.

Just like the Lexus LX600 the truck underpinnings belie the luxury. This '23 Sequoia has a payload capacity of 1,410 lbs. and there was only my wife and me in it so the Sequoia was hardly loaded to the max. Maybe if we had five other adults and their luggage in the Sequoia it would have had a smoother ride. But it was just us, and the bumps, potholes, and train tracks were telegraphed through the suspension into the passenger compartment. There is only so much that insulation and comfy seats can do to mask the truck underneath. 

But just like the Lexus I liked the Sequoia. The interior was nice, the controls relatively intuitive, and the view on the open road commanding. 

The interior is a bit bland, mostly because of the almost monochromatic theme. I prefer it this way for a couple of reasons; it doesn't show dirt that much (except for dried grass like that on the floor), and won't go out of style.

The Platinum version has two separate seats in the middle row. Nice for adults or keeping two children apart but I'd prefer a bench seat that brings the total capacity up to eight (2, 3, and 3). Access to the rear seat is not terrible but you'd never catch me trying to climb back there.

If you fold down the rear seat the storage space is increased drastically.

I suspect that a majority of Sequoias will be AWD for no reason other than people think they need it. Two-wheel-drive gets better fuel economy but let's face it, economy is not a factor in buying a vehicle like the Sequoia. 

You may find a 2023 at a dealership but Toyota shows the 2024 on their website (https://www.toyota.com/). It hasn't changed much. The base Sequoia SR5* starts at $60,875 and the line topping Capstone begins at $77,865. The Platinum is $78,315, throw in some options like the power running boards (a must have for me) and you'll be over $80-grand in an instant. But it's a Toyota so it will last a long time. 

There is a downside to all these big SUVs - parking. It seemed inevitable that even if I parked with open spaces on either side by the time I finished shopping and it was time to load everything into the Sequoia it would be surrounded by other SUVs. Big SUVs and pickups barely fit between the lines!

* - It seems strange to use SR5 on a vehicle with an automatic transmission as it used to mean "Sport Rally 5-speed". 


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