My Whirlwind Romance With the 2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro

The Rugged-Looking 2023 Toyota Sequoia Trd Pro Will Certainly Stand Out On The Road — Especially In The Solar Octane Orange Color. Photo: Allison Bell
The rugged-looking 2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro will certainly stand out on the road — especially in the Solar Octane orange color. Photo: Allison Bell

The new Toyota Sequoia has definitely got the looks – but does its personality fit you?

Have you ever been in a crowded room full of strangers and your eyes suddenly fell on one particularly attractive person who made you think, “Wow, who’s that?” Well, that pretty much describes the first time I laid eyes on the 2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro

I was at the San Diego International Auto Show with my family, roaming about from car to car when — bam! A shiny, sleek, aggressive-looking SUV caught my attention. Painted in an admirably bold shade of deep reddish-orange, Toyota’s new Sequoia commanded the gaze of not just me, but everyone who came within its orbit. You could almost feel the palpable urge of onlookers who were itching to hop in this thing and head for the hills.

As the flagship three-row SUV for Toyota (R.I.P., Land Cruiser), the Sequoia certainly has a lot to live up to. And lucky me — just days after I first saw it in person, I got to borrow it for a weeklong test drive to see how it held up. The question is: Was it a relationship built to last or was the attraction merely surface level? Here’s what I learned from our whirlwind romance.

Related: The 2023 Toyota Sequoia 3 Row SUV is All New and We Can’t Wait to Drive it!

The Toyota Sequoia Trd Pro Package Includes A Blacked-Out Heritage Grille With An Integrated Led Light Bar And Amber Marker Lights. Photo: Allison Bell

The TRD Pro package includes a blacked-out heritage grille with an integrated LED light bar and amber marker lights. Photo: Allison Bell

Get Ready to Turn Some Heads

If you’re the type of person who prefers to keep a low profile on the road, let me just say — this may not be the best car for you. As I mentioned, the bold redesign of the Sequoia will magnetically capture some stares, particularly if you opt for the TRD Pro trim in the Solar Octane orange color. It’s as if the old Sequoia went on a strict diet of chicken breast and salad and started pumping iron at the gym three times a day. Built off the same platform as its Tundra cousin and Lexus LX 600, the chiseled lines and more rugged-looking exterior give off a “not your grandmother’s SUV” type of vibe. 

The Bigger, Bolder Nameplate Across The Back Indicates Just How Proud Toyota Is Of The New Sequoia. Photo: Allison Bell

The bigger, bolder nameplate across the back indicates just how proud Toyota is of the new Sequoia. Photo: Allison Bell

Our TRD Pro tester came with chunky 33-inch Falken Wildpeak all-terrain tires sitting on 18-inch, matte-black, forged-aluminum BBS wheels. The blacked-out “TOYOTA” heritage grille with the LED light bar and amber marker lights created an imposing presence from the front while the TRD Pro dual tip exhaust and bold “Sequoia” nameplate across the back completed the look. The black roof rack, windows, mirrors and TRD badging on the hood were the stylistic cherries on top. Ours also came with optional extendable towing mirrors (more on those later) that upped the eye-catching factor.

True, looks aren’t everything. But if they were, this thing gets a 10/10.

Related: The 2023 Toyota Sequoia Has Hot New Looks, Including a Paint Job Rivaling Oklahoma State’s Orange

There Are No Bad Angles On The 2023 Toyota Sequoia Trd Pro. Photo: Allison Bell

There are no bad angles on the 2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro. Photo: Allison Bell

What’s New for the 2023 Toyota Sequoia

Styling refresh aside, there are a few other upgrades to mention for the new Sequoia, which comes in five trims: SR5, Limited, Platinum, TRD Pro and the luxury-grade Capstone. No matter which trim you choose, one of the biggest changes for the 2023 model is that Toyota swapped out the 5.7-liter V8 engine for a 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6 hybrid powertrain that puts out a burly 437-horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque. I definitely felt this beast roaring with joy anytime we scaled a steep hill or merged onto the freeway. The acceleration was seamless. 

Toyota Swapped The Naturally-Aspirated V8 For A 3.4-Liter Twin Turbo V6 Hybrid Engine On The 2023 Sequoia. Photo: Allison Bell

Toyota swapped the naturally-aspirated V8 for a 3.4-liter twin turbo V6 hybrid engine on the 2023 Sequoia. Photo: Allison Bell

But then there was the fuel economy. According to the window sticker, the hybrid engine should get 20 mpg with combined highway and city driving. We averaged about 15 mpg.

A Simple Turn Of A Dial Lets You Switch From Three Different Driving Modes Normal, Sport And Eco. Photo: Allison Bell

A simple turn of a dial lets you switch from three different driving modes Normal, Sport and Eco. Photo: Allison Bell

Also new for 2023, Toyota added a few driving modes: Normal, Eco and Sport. To no one’s surprise, I’m sure, Sport mode proved to be the most fun, though we mostly kept things in Normal. We tried Eco for a day to see if it improved fuel efficiency, but we didn’t note any changes to the mpg. 

The Sequoia TRD Pro also comes with different terrain modes for off-roading. To be fair, we never put those to the test. However, I’m happy to report that it handled a snowy, slippery drive home very well once I threw it into four-wheel drive.

The Technical Camo Interior And Trd Pro Badging Make The New Sequoia Look Cooler Than Ever. Photo: Allison Bell

The Technical Camo interior and TRD Pro badging make the new Sequoia look cooler than ever. Photo: Allison Bell

It’s What’s on the Inside That Counts

Climbing into the driver’s seat of the Sequoia TRD Pro, I immediately took note of how comfortable the seats were and how clean the interior looked. (And not just because it had been recently washed.) The subtle technical camo design on the seats was a nice touch because it’s different enough to stand out, yet subtle enough to still feel unisex. 

The 14-inch infotainment touch screen initially made my jaw drop with its massive size and was almost distracting when I took my first spin in the Sequoia. When it comes to infotainment, I’m a “no frills, no fuss” type of a person. Just let me connect my phone, give me a good sound system and I’m a happy camper! Luckily, Toyota seems to agree with that mindset because they kept things sweet and simple to navigate. We used both wireless Apple CarPlay and the built-in navigation system to get around and found that either worked great. 

Connecting To Apple Carplay Or Android Auto Is Simple Enough With This Large 14-Inch Infotainment Screen. Photo: Allison Bell

Connecting to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is simple enough with this large 14-inch infotainment screen. Photo: Allison Bell

We also had fun trying out the new “Hey, Toyota” voice command feature (even if the voice asking “What do you want to do?” sounds a little less happy to help us than Siri). Toyota partnered up with Google so that anything you might search on your phone could easily be displayed on the touch screen — and your phone doesn’t even have to be connected for it to work. Need to fill up? “Hey, Toyota, where’s the nearest gas station?” And boom – the closest results appear, along with the Google reviews for each location. It’s pretty nifty.

How Many Trd Pro Badges Can You Spot In This Picture Photo: Allison Bell

How many TRD Pro badges can you spot in this picture Photo: Allison Bell

Other than that fancy tech, the other up front features are fairly straightforward. You’ve got your gear selector, a wireless charging pad, your cup holders, a center console with plenty of storage for a handbag under the armrest. A heated steering wheel provides all the buttons you need to flip through the digital display, control volume and operate cruise control. And let’s not forget about those heated and ventilated seats that keep your comfort level at a maximum. That alone is a major selling point.

Related: 2022 Toyota Sequoia: The 3-Row SUV Workhorse That’s Built for the Outdoors

Second Row Captain'S Chairs Offer Plenty Of Head Space And Leg Room For Both Kids And Adults! Photo: Allison Bell

Second row captain’s chairs offer plenty of head space and leg room for both kids and adults! Photo: Allison Bell

Moving to the Back

The second row captain’s chairs proved just as comfy as the front seats, though my 7-year-old lamented the lack of heated seats. (He’s been a bit spoiled in that regard.) Speaking of kids, one of my absolute favorite features as a mom was just how easy it was to install car seats and boosters in the second row. Toyota didn’t bury the latch anchors like so many other cars, so snapping in the seats and securing them to the tether on the back took about 5 minutes less than it usually does. Woot! The third row doesn’t have a lower anchor, but there is a tether anchor on the back of the middle seat if you need to squeeze in one more car seat. And if you’re worried about how that might affect visibility out the back, don’t fret — the digital rearview mirror up front will give you a crystal clear view of what’s behind you.

The Third Row Is Slightly Less Accommodating For Adults (See My Head Touching The Ceiling). But Three Smaller Kids Would Fit Back Here! Photo: Allison Bell

The third row is slightly less accommodating for adults (see my head touching the ceiling). But three smaller kids would fit back here! Photo: Allison Bell

Now, about that third row — technically, it fits three passengers. However, I’m 5-foot-9 and my head touched the ceiling when I sat up straight. Legroom was also slightly tight. You can certainly squeeze two adults — possibly three — in the back, but it’s best suited for children. My carpool kids fit great back there.

Third Row Leg Room Is A Little Tight For Adults But Manageable In A Pinch. Photo: Allison Bell

Third row leg room is a little tight for adults but manageable in a pinch. Photo: Allison Bell

I appreciated the all-weather floor mats for keeping things nice and tidy when the kids trekked in with wet and muddy boots. In terms of convenience, you’ve got accessible charging ports, rear climate control, cupholders and manual sun shades in both the second and third rows, which I thought was a particularly thoughtful inclusion. Props to Toyota for that one! Overall, your passengers should be pretty comfortable.

A View From The Third Row Gives You An Idea Of What It_S Like To Be A Backseat Passenger In The Sequoia. Photo: Allison Bell

A view from the third row gives you an idea of what it_s like to be a backseat passenger in the Sequoia. Photo: Allison Bell

A Slightly Different Cargo Area Takes Adjusting To

If I had to pick one feature that might produce mixed feelings among potential buyers, it’s the cargo area. Here’s why: The third row doesn’t fold completely flat, which leaves you with a tiered storage space. Because this new Sequoia is a hybrid, the battery packs needed to go somewhere, so below the cargo floor they went. However,  Toyota designed a removable cargo shelf that can create an even surface if you want things to lay flat. If you were a skilled Tetris player as a kid, adjusting to this unique design should be no problem at all. And even if it takes some getting used to, it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker. Just something to be aware of.

The Third Row Of The Sequoia Doesn_T Fold Down Flat, But Toyota Designed A Removable Cargo Shelf To Help Level Things Out If Needed. Photo: Allison Bell

The third row of the Sequoia doesn’t fold down flat, but Toyota designed a removable cargo shelf to help level things out if needed. Photo: Allison Bell

With all seats folded down, the Sequoia offers 86.9 cubic feet of cargo volume. That goes to 49 cubic feet with the third row down and between 11.5 to 22.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the third row up, depending on where you’ve got the seats positioned. (You can slide them back and forth manually.)

Here'S What The Cargo Area Looks Like With The Third Row Folded Down And The Removable Shelf In Place. Photo: Allison Bell

Here’s what the cargo area looks like with the third row folded down and the removable shelf in place. Photo: Allison Bell

The hands-free power rear liftgate worked great — once we realized how to use it. Tip: Make sure you’ve got your Smart Key with you and quickly kick right under the sensor to get it to open.

Related: The Perfect Family Car: Toyota Sequoia

2023 Toyota Sequoia Trd Pro Monroney

2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro Monroney

How Much Does the 2023 Toyota Sequoia Cost?

If we’re judging solely on appearance, I would pick the TRD Pro in a heartbeat. But if we’re factoring in value for price, some of the lower trims may be worth a look.

  • The SR5 starts at $58,365 and includes standard features like the surround-view cameras, Toyota Safety Sense and Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The biggest difference is that you get cloth seats and an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, though the 14-inch one is available as an option. 
  • Next, there’s the Limited, which starts at $64,765. You get the 14-inch infotainment screen plus heated/ventilated seats, a power-folding third row and a hands-free power liftgate.
  • The Platinum trim starts at $70,965 and adds a few luxuries. These include heated/ventilated captain’s chairs in the second row, a head-up display, wireless charging, a 14-speaker JBL sound system, upgraded LED headlights and taillights, rain-sensing wipers and a panoramic moonroof. 
  • The TRD Pro (our model) comes next, starting at $76,065. This is the one that will get the off-roaders’ hearts fluttering as it offers Fox internal-bypass shocks, a TRD skid plate, a standard selectable locking rear differential and Multi-Terrain Select drive modes for mud, sand, rock and everything else. And then, of course, there’s all that awesome TRD badging throughout the cabin and the exterior. 
  • Finally, the luxurious-looking Capstone trim tops things out with interior upgrades like leather-trimmed seats, LED ambient lighting and a quieter ride. The Capstone starts at $75,365.
The Optional, Extendable Towing Mirrors Are Larger Than They Appear. While They Increase Visibility To The Back, They Can Also Create Blindspots Up Front. Photo: Allison Bell

The optional, extendable towing mirrors are larger than they appear. While they increase visibility to the back, they can also create blindspots up front. Photo: Allison Bell

Our TRD Pro tester’s optional power extending tow mirrors, TRD roof rack, integrated dash cam, ball mount and special Solar Octane color brought the total price to $80,291. If I were buying the TRD Pro, I’d skip the power tow mirrors, the dash cam and possibly the roof rack (even though it looks really cool). The roof rack caused some cabin noise at high speeds and the power tow mirrors obstructed some of the view up front and created some blind spots. We had a couple of close calls in the Costco parking lot when we couldn’t see an approaching car. The dash cam we just didn’t use.

(Note: If you don’t want to spring for the TRD Pro, Toyota’s TRD Off-Road Package and TRD Sport Package come with some of the same goodies and can be added to most trims. Me? I’d just go with the TRD Pro if it’s within your price range.) 

The Trd Pro Sequoia Offers A No Frills Center Console With A Wireless Charging Pad, Cupholders And Extra Storage Under The Arm Rests. Photo: Allison Bell

The TRD Pro Sequoia offers a no frills center console with a wireless charging pad, cupholders and extra storage under the arm rests. Photo: Allison Bell

What We Loved

There was a lot to love about the Sequoia TRD Pro, but these were just a few of our favorite features:

  • Attractive design inside and out
  • Ease of installing car seats in the second row
  • Comfort and convenience features, such as multiple charging ports, sunshades for all rear seats, heated/ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel
  • Confidently driving on unplowed roads in four-wheel drive
  • The sheer power of the hybridized engine

What You Need to Know

From specs to quirks and interesting tidbits, these are the things you need to know before buying the 2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro.

  • i-Force Max twin-turbo V6 hybrid engine
  • Available in two-wheel and four-wheel drive
  • 10-speed automatic transmission
  • Five trims available: SR5, Limited, Platinum, TRD Pro and Capstone
  • Starts at $58,365 for the SR5 trim
  • All models are equipped with Toyota Safety Sense (pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, steering assist, lane tracing assist, automatic high beams, road sign assist, range dynamic radar cruise control)
  • Maximum towing capacity: 9,520 pounds
  • The 2023 Sequoia seats up to eight passengers, depending on the trim, but third row seating is tight
  • Optional power towing mirrors are large and may create blindspots up front
  • Lower anchors and tethers for car seats on outboard second-row seats and one upper anchor on the back of the third row middle seat
  • Roof rack can create cabin noise at high speeds

Who This Car is For

  • Outdoor adventurers and off-road enthusiasts who need a capable SUV
  • Anyone with big toys to haul
  • Families looking for comfortable SUVs with up to eight seats
We Love Any Car That Can Comfortably Fit Our Family Of Four, And The Sequoia Checks That Box. Photo: Allison Bell

We love any car that can comfortably fit our family of four, and the Sequoia checks that box. Photo: Allison Bell

Is This the Right Car for you? The Final Verdict

After a week of driving together, the Sequoia TRD Pro and I got along famously. I was fairly familiar with its odd quirks by then and had learned to live with them. I even found myself wistfully staring out the window as it drove off to meet the next driver, who would surely fall in love with it at first sight as I had. But in the end, I had to admit that it just “wasn’t my type.” That’s not due to any particular failings on the car’s part — it’s just better suited for someone who’ll fully appreciate it for its intended off-road purposes. 

So, who’s the ideal buyer for this car? If you’re an adventurous type who loves to hit the mountains or trails on a routine basis with or without a family in tow, I can see you and the Sequoia TRD Pro being very happy together. A power couple, even. You might have to play around to find your favorite cargo space configurations with that removable shelf, but once you get the hang of that, you’ll be joyfully riding off into the sunset together.

Disclosure: The Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro was provided by Toyota for this week-long review, but the opinions expressed are all my own.

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Allison is a freelance writer, a mother of two, and the wife of a car-obsessed husband who got her... More about Allison Bell