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New Tree in the Forest: The 2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone front 3/4 view

When it comes to trees, lifespans take on a whole new dimension. An elm tree in your neighborhood could be more than 100 years old. Those iconic Mexican fan palm trees that line the boulevards of Beverly Hills? 500 years isn't out of the question.

Sequoias, though----well, they're on another level. Three thousand years is the ballpark. Which brings us to the Toyota Sequoia.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone rear 3/4 view

What you're seeing here is the all-new 2023 Sequoia, which replaces the previous Sequoia after 15 years on the market. That's pretty close to 3,000 in SUV years. Before anyone started suggesting cutting one open, counting the rings and using radiocarbon dating, Toyota has ushered out the old and ushered in the new---built on the same platform as the new-for-2022 Toyota Tundra pickup truck and Lexus LX 600 luxury SUV.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone hood up

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone hybrid powerplant

At its heart is not only a modern powerplant, but a modern hybrid powerplant---replacing the 381-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 in the last-generation Sequoia. This is the i-FORCE MAX twin-turbo V6 paired with an electric motor with a total system output of 437 horsepower and making 583 lb-ft of torque compared to the old one's 401. It has a ten-speed automatic transmission---double the number of gears in the old Sequoia. It's also seriously quick---0-60 in 5.6 seconds. A combination of V6 versus V8, hybrid versus not and ten gears versus five produces a much-improved EPA fuel economy estimate. The old one? 13 mpg city/17 highway. The new one? 19 city/22 highway. But, as they say, your mileage may vary. Here's what I got after 201 miles of city street, urban freeway and rural highway driving (only about a half-mile of it on freshly graded snow, the rest on dry pavement in 2WD):

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone rear liftgate open

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone rear cargo area

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone rear seats

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone front seats

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone instrument panel

The more upright, squared-off proportions of the new Sequoia result in real and perceived additional room---it feels HUGE inside. The instrument panel and upscale interior of the top-of-the-line Capstone trim are identical to the Tundra Capstone. It works for me in the Sequoia, it didn't in the Tundra, and while I think it has to do with the practicality of all that cream-colored leather in a pickup, it could also just be me. The only place where my critique of the Tundra Capstone interior still applies in the Sequoia is that center screen. It's huge. Pictures don't convey quite how big and out-of-scale it is.

The new Tundras start at just a shade under $60,000 (destination included). The top-of-the-line AWD Capstone starts at $79,895. You get a lot for that money---Toyota's comprehensive Safety Sense 2.5 suite of driver-assistance safety features, 22-inch dark chrome alloy wheels, power running boards, auto-leveling LED headlights, sequential turn signals, a power panoramic roof, the 14-inch touchscreen audio and navigation system including a 14-speaker JBL premium audio system with subwoofer and amplifier, three-zone climate control, semi-aniline leather-trimmed power front seats (both heated and ventilated) and a power liftgate that has a flip-up window allowing you to load or unload without raising the entire liftgate.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone steering wheel and gauge cluster

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone center console

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone center screen and HVAC controls

The good news is that the Capstone is so well-equipped that there's not much nickel-and-diming to be done (there are power tow mirrors and rear air suspension packages available separately or combined). Our test vehicle had two extra-cost options---$499 for a dash cam and $87 for a trailer hitch ball mount. So the as-tested price of the 2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone is $80,481.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone side view

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone rear view

That bottom line may be a breathtaking number if you haven't shopped loaded full-size SUVs in a while, but it's absolutely in line with what a top-trim Tahoe, Expedition or Wagoneer costs. And there are a lot of elements of this new Sequoia that I find more appealing than the competition. Just don't start fantasizing about setting mileage records because it's a hybrid.


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