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2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone Review: Luxury Family Adventure Machine

There’s nothing like a cloudy and cold Michigan winter to see if Toyota’s new luxury trim will keep you warm and comfy. We spent a few of the shortest days on the calendar driving the third-generation 2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone through the city, country, and highways in between to find out if an additional $20,000 over the SR5 is money well spent.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone review(Photo/Robin Warner)
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A year after debuting the third-generation Tundra (a full-size pickup truck), Toyota followed with a new version of its large SUV — the 2023 Sequoia. It also started its third generation Sequoia with a new fully boxed frame and powertrain. In fact, it borrowed both from the Tundra parts bin. And while there, the Sequoia grabbed the uber-luxury Capstone trim level too.

We published a first-drive review of the 2023 Toyota Sequoia in June of 2022, which covered our first impressions of the key trim levels on offer. In it, we described that the Capstone “… is for those who want the best of a luxury sedan in the form of a full-size SUV. It adds 22-inch wheels and tires, power running boards, and acoustic glass. The cabin features open-pore American walnut veneer, semi-aniline leather seats, and other luxury touches.”

Let’s now dive into the details of what this ultimate Luxury Toyota SUV has to offer.

In short: With programmable running boards, flashy chrome features, American Walnut interior trim, and superior towing capacity over the competition, there’s no doubt the Sequoia should cost more. But $20,000? We’re willing to bet anyone in the market for a sleek, luxury vehicle like this one will turn a blind eye and crank up those heated/cooled seats.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone Review

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone review front
(Photo/Robin Warner)

Take a Good Look… at Your Checkbook

Well, here it is. Bask in the visual gloriousness of modern body-on-frame, full-size SUV luxury. Yes. Toyota decided that Platinum comfort levels for its nearly 210-inch-long ute simply underwhelmed. Us consumers wanted, no, needed more.

Interested? Then prepare for an extra $20,000 to leave your bank account for the Sequoia Capstone with 4WD, compared to a base SR5 model with 2WD. Which itself already costs nearly $10,000 more than the 2022 Sequoia.

Base price for a Sequoia Capstone with 4WD is $79,895. Oof, that’s a pretty penny.

2023 Toyota Sequoia wheels
(Photo/Robin Warner)

It’s also a pretty SUV. Toyota used a few intelligent touches for the Capstone to stand out among the Sequoia line-up. The 22-inch wheels fill the wells nicely and are unique to Capstone models. You roll on 18s in the SR5 and TRD Pro models, and 20s on Limited and Platinum.

2023 Toyota Sequoia chrome sideview mirrors
(Photo/Robin Warner)

Furthermore, chrome side-view mirror covers, door handles, and more give the trim a bit of glamour and panache missing on other Sequoia trims.

inside the 2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone
(Photo/Robin Warner)

2023 Sequoia Capstone: A Look Inside

More Capstone traits reveal themselves inside the new Sequoia as you open the door. Motorized running boards are standard on this 2023 Sequoia Capstone. You can choose to open and close them via a button to the left of the steering wheel. Drivers can also program them to automatically open with the doors or remain open or closed at all times.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone review interior second-row seats.
(Photo/Robin Warner)

As you step in, you’ll sit on semi-aniline leather seats — a unique material for the Capstone upholstery. Otherwise, the seats follow suit to the Platinum models, offering both heat and ventilation in both first and second rows.

There’s also specific ambient lighting and beautiful American Walnut wood grain veneer as part of the trim. Credit where credit is due. These are beautiful touches.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone review interior front dash.
(Photo/Robin Warner)

That’s in addition to several features also offered on the Platinum to give an elevated experience in this more than six-foot-tall SUV, such as a 10-inch color head-up display, a panoramic moonroof, and a wireless smartphone charging pad.

Furthermore, hands stay warm with a heated steering wheel — an always-appreciated feature for us Up North folk. It’s standard on Limited and higher trims.

You also get a 14-inch center console touchscreen. An 8-inch screen is standard on the SR5. That includes wireless connectivity to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

And standard across the board are features like a fully digital and adjustable 12.3-inch instrument cluster and a three-zone climate control system. There are two zones up front and one for the second row to fight over.

Practically Speaking

All the above luxuries come in a vehicle with a mighty big footprint. That means you get space and lots of it.

2023 Toyota Sequoia rear spacing
(Photo/Robin Warner)

Press the button to raise the power liftgate (powered on Limited trims and up). This reveals a somewhat scant 12 cubic feet of space behind the three-seat bench third row.

But don’t fret, that bench slides up to six inches fore and aft.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone review rear interior with shelf
(Photo/Robin Warner)

Slide it forward and space increases to 22 cubic feet, pinching legroom for that row in the process, certainly. But the kids normally back there won’t notice.

Additionally, Toyota added a flat panel shelf as part of the floor that easily pulls out and can be placed on any one of three built-in mounts at varying heights. This allows easy ways to partition your storage in the back, which is a nice feature.

Furthermore, a press of a button folds those seats and increases storage space to 49 cubic feet of storage. Repeat the process with the second-row captain’s chairs, and enjoy 87 cubic feet of space.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone review side
(Photo/Robin Warner)

A couple of caveats. You have a high-loading floor, so expect a shoulder workout with heavier items. And this is far from a flat floor.

The car-based, smaller, more efficient, and better-riding Hyundai Palisade offers nearly as much space, 86 cubic feet, and a lower and flat floor to use. And the similar-sized Chevrolet Tahoe provides up to 123 cubic feet of cargo room.

Get to Work

Yes, comparing the Sequoia to the Tahoe is entirely reasonable. The Sequoia is three inches longer than the outgoing model, less than three inches shorter than the Tahoe, and competes on a number of levels with the Chevy.

Tahoe wins on space, but the Sequoia roars back with superior towing capability. While the heaviest Chevrolet’s big boy manages is 8,400 pounds, a two-wheel-drive SR5 Sequoia accepts up to 9,520 pounds. Despite all the heavy luxury add-ons and four-wheel-drive transfer case to lug around, the Capstone still manages as much as 8,980 pounds on its back.

On the flip side of that coin is load capacity. Sequoia Capstone can only haul around 1,375 pounds of people, gear, and fuel, while the Tahoe can carry at least 1,655 pounds.

The new, fully boxed frame, independent suspension, and hybrid powertrain borrowed from the latest Tundra are responsible for these do-work figures.

Toyota i-Force Max Power

2023 Sequoia engine
(Photo/Robin Warner)

And, yes, you read right. The one and only powertrain of the entire Sequoia line-up is a twin-turbocharged 3.4-liter V-6 hybrid. Toyota dubbed it i-Force Max.

Sandwiched between the V-6 and 10-speed automatic transmission lies an electric motor, which adds as much as 48 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque to the show, predominately at low engine speeds. Energy is supplied by a 1.87kWh battery pack, which itself gets energy from braking and the V-6.

Altogether, drivers command up to 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque with their right foot. A healthy number, certainly. Moreover, because of the electric motor working hard just as the engine warms up, you feel a strong pull throughout the rev range. And the 10-speed automatic gives the engine tons of flexibility to boot.

Better still, the Sequoia resists temptations to chug gas and delivers 19 mpg in the city, 22 on the highway, 20 combined.

It’s seriously great. We’ve reached a point where hybrid powertrains are superior to their ICE counterparts without compromise.

Don’t Sell Your Sedan Just Yet

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone review side view
(Photo/Robin Warner)

Another benefit to its truck roots, the Sequoia Capstone can take its large shiny wheels and semi-aniline leather off to the trails with reasonable confidence. The four-wheel-drive system includes a four-low option with a 2.64:1 gear-ratio change for plenty of torque multiplication.

With a minimum ground clearance of 8.6 inches with OK approach and departure angles — 15 and 20 degrees respectively — you could climb to quite a few lovely vistas.

However, I presume most Capstones will keep their shoes firmly planted on pavement. Unfortunately, you feel its off-road capabilities there too.

Don’t get me wrong. As truck-based utes go, it rides with the best of them. But the strength to hold up nearly 9,000 pounds requires a minimum stiffness of the springs and shocks. The 22-inch wheels take away some of the cushioning that tire sidewalls otherwise provide.

The Capstone absorbs most bumps on the road with aplomb, but large expansion joints and sharp pocks will cause a jostle.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone review interior front row
(Photo/Robin Warner)

On the other hand, you do sit in a lot of comfort inside. The seats feel fantastic. Above the leather material, you also get lots of power adjustments, including lumbar and thigh support, to make the fit just so.

On the interstate, the Sequoia also absorbs miles with little trouble. The Capstone benefits from acoustic glass on the driver and passenger front doors — in addition to the windshield like the other trims — to help dampen additional noise.

But, again, it’s a big thing. And big things have a lot of air to move out of the way. It’s still noisier than a Toyota Crown by a considerable margin.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone Review Summary

rear shot from back of 2023 Sequoia
(Photo/Robin Warner)

A Toyota Crown, however, couldn’t tow your 25-foot pontoon to the lake or take your horses to the farm. Not to mention offer plenty of space for your family and gear. The Capstone can and in style. The 22-inch wheels and chrome finishes scattered throughout really do uplevel the Sequoia’s presence.

Inside is comfortable and spacious with a myriad of ways to keep everyone feeling cozy, even in Michigan winters just as a bomb cyclone bombards the horizon.

2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone review inside front center dash
(Photo/Robin Warner)

Moreover, the multitude of USB ports, the Qi wireless charging pad, and the 14-inch touchscreen make it a modern, gadget-friendly space. Yet, it marries well with the real wood veneer blended in with the rest of the trim. It’s that old-school, old-money vibe that makes me feel fancy.

A $20,000 price tag over a standard Sequoia SR5 is a lot of money. But you genuinely get a lot for your money. Just don’t mistake it for a luxury car or crossover. It’s a luxury, truck-based, body-on-frame SUV.

2023 toyota sequoia side view

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