Toyota is piggybacking off its complete redesign to the Tundra pickup truck to introduce a new version of its large 2023 Sequoia SUV.
The SUV badly needed a full redesign as it has been essentially unchanged since 2008 and was among the oldest vehicles in the segment. But the new version is stronger and more refined than the current model, thanks to significant upgrades in the powertrain, technology and cabin.
Trucks.com caught up with Mike Sweers, executive chief engineer for the Toyota Tundra, Sequoia, Tacoma and 4Runner vehicle programs, to get the skinny on the five most significant changes in the big SUV. Here’sHere’s an edited version of that conversation.
New Toyota Sequoia Platform
We have to start with the new F1 platform, which we are using for our new trucks and SUVs, including the global Land Cruiser, the Tundra and Sequoia. It has the best towing capability from Tundra, and you’re getting the off-road capability from the Land Cruiser and putting that package into the Sequoia.
New Toyota Sequoia Powertrain
The second biggest change is the powertrain. We will offer only one powertrain for Sequoia, and it is the same i-FORCE MAX hybrid powertrain that we are using in the Tundra. You are getting 437 horsepower and 583-pound feet of torque, which helps with our increase in towing capacity 22 percent to a 9,000-pound maximum. It is also fun to drive. Compared to the outgoing V8 engine that we had in Sequoia, the customer will see substantially better fuel economy and power.
Redesigned Sequoia Cabin
The third thing is the seat configuration. We changed the interior to make it more comfortable, especially for long rides, like a four-hour trip to the lake. We really focused on the third-row seats. One of the criticisms we heard is there’s not enough storage for luggage when you’re using all three rows of seating. We fixed the second-row seat with a tumble feature to have the best ingress and egress in the class. Then we put a slide on the third row. That allows the customer to decide whether they want as much legroom back there, or they can move the seat forward and get four full-size suitcases and still seat three adults back there.
The fourth thing is the gorgeous styling of the SUV. We really paid attention to the interior and exterior with the materials we’re using and on the shapes we are using, and we improved the aerodynamics in the process. It gives us a unique look in the full-size SUV segment. I don’t think it looks like any full-size SUV has ever looked. You can take your family out to dinner, or you go off-road and it is just gorgeous. I think that fits the lifestyle of our customers.
The fifth thing of the vehicle is the electronics and the electronic platform. We can now change things. We have electronic power steering, we can change the steering and we can change the brakes. There are more amenities in the cabin like heated and ventilated seats in the second row.
Editor’s Note: While Toyota showed off the 2023 Sequoia and allowed a walk around, Trucks.com doesn’t yet have driving impressions for the vehicle. Despite the upgrades, there are still a few kinks. A tall person, for example, won’t be comfortable in the second row of seats because the mechanism intrudes too far into the headroom.
Cargo space is limited by the placement of the battery used for the hybrid powertrain. And most won’t find the third row useful for seating when in the most forward position to provide the most cargo space. Trucks.com will have a full review of the Sequoia later this year.