2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone 4WD
Class: Large SUV
Passenger capacity: 7
Miles driven: 200
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||B+|
|Power and Performance||B+|
|Fit and Finish||B+|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||437-horsepower 3.4L|
|Engine Type||Turbo hybrid V6|
Real-world fuel economy: 17.8 mpg
Driving mix: 50% city, 50% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 19/22/20 (mpg city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $78,300 (not including $1595 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Special color ($425), dash cam ($499), ball mount ($87)
Price as tested: $80,906
The great: Ample power, roomy and comfortable cabin
The good: Big touchscreen, simple control layout, solid feel
The not so good: Complicated cargo-area arrangement, overly firm ride
In a vehicle category in which every model is at least pretty good, it takes a little something extra to stand out. That’s especially true in the large SUV segment. Now in its third generation, the fully redesigned 2023 Toyota Sequoia newly comes with two features that should help this large SUV catch the attention of shoppers: a new luxury trim level, and a class-exclusive hybrid powertrain. We’ll get to the powertrain a little later.
The new Sequoia is offered in five trim levels: entry SR5, midline Limited, upscale Platinum, off-road-ready TRD Pro, and new topline Capstone. Note that though Capstone is the most-luxurious version of the 2023 Sequoia, it is not the most-costly. That distinction goes to the TRD Pro, which out stickers the Capstone by $700.
And, starting at $79,895, the Sequoia Capstone is priced just slightly above the Chevrolet Tahoe High Country and GMC Yukon Denali. Unlike the Chevy and GMC, or the Ford Expedition and Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, the Sequoia is only offered as a standard-length model that is just slightly shorter in overall length than the other vehicles in the aforementioned competitive set. For a complete breakdown of the Sequoia lineup, check out our First Look article here.
Consumer Guide spent a week in the new Tundra Capstone, and came away largely impressed. We do have a few complaints, however.
Let’s start inside. Though very nicely finished, the Capstone cabin does not come off as Lexus-light, not quite. That said, there’s something about how most Toyota interiors look well put together. There’s a fussiness to the fits and finishes that somehow assures us that the car or truck you’re in will easily go 200,000 miles. The Tundra Capstone cabin feels this way; it’s tidy, carefully considered, and appropriately upscale feeling.
As this driver has pointed out on Twitter, the new, huge, touchscreen is not only easy to read, but all the available space is put to excellent use. The “media” screen, for example, displays a huge album cover or podcast logo, with all of the relevant program info available adjacent to the image. It’s clean, it’s simple, it’s nice.
As for comfort, there’s ample room in the first and 2nd seating rows, though the 2nd row no longer slides fore and aft, but the 3-rd row now does. As for the 3rd row, there’s a reasonable amount of leg room, but adults will want for headroom. Also, the “legs-forward” seating position in the back row will likely prove fatiguing for larger occupants on long trips.
And, here’s a bummer: because of the hybrid drivetrain—the battery specifically—the 3rd-row seats do not fold flat into the floor. Instead, because the battery lives down below the load floor, the seatbacks simply fold down over the seat bottoms. To compensate for this—sort of—the Sequoia is equipped with an adjustable cargo shelf that can be moved to allow for a continuous load floor. This feels like an undue hassle, and isn’t something buyers of $80,000 SUVs will want to deal with. This arrangement may prove to be a deal breaker for consumers looking to do a lot of cargo hauling.
But about that drivetrain…
Borrowed from the recently redesigned Tundra large pickup, Toyota’s i-Force Max engine provides plenty of power, and significantly better fuel economy than the previous-generation Sequoia. Mated exclusively to a 10-speed automatic, the hybridized, turbocharged, 3.4-liter V6 pumps out a stout 437 horsepower. Though we didn’t get close to the EPA 20-mpg combined estimate, our 17.8 mpg observed fuel economy is about 15 percent better than we reported seeing during our last evaluation of the less-powerful previous-generation Sequoia. It’s also better than we’ve seen in competitive SUVs.
On the road we found the Sequoia pleasant enough, but not quite as refined as other vehicles in this class. Mostly we were disappointed but the amount of wind and road noise at highway speed, and the overly firm ride. No complaints about the power, as the i-Force Max powertrain made easy work of passing and merging operations. That said, we observed a lot of sudden transmission downshifts during deceleration, which we assume were related to the hybrid-battery regeneration system. Though not harsh, the shifts were pronounced, and somewhat at odds with the Capstone’s luxury mission.
And though not exactly athletic, we found our test truck to be a competent handler, with better steering feel and less cornering roll that the other trucks in this class.
There are so few entries in this segment that serious shoppers owe it to themselves to test drive all the available trucks. We think the cargo-area situation will be a problem for many shoppers, as may the Toyota’s highway ride quality. But like the previous-generation Sequoia, this latest example looks and feels solid, and feels just a little sportier than the competition. Does the new Capstone trim level or hybrid powertrain give Sequoia an edge in the segment? Maybe not, but they do keep Toyota’s biggest rig interesting enough to stay on shoppers’ radar.
2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone Gallery
(Click below for enlarged images)