All New TRD Pro Sequoia, a Do It All Overlander?

Photo By: Rick Stowe

The 2023 Toyota TRD Pro Sequoia surprised me out of the gate. Before I ever left the pavement, the Sequoia cruised down the mountainous highways of Virginia with ease while averaging over 20 mpg. This is all the more shocking because the Sequoia is a big rig with a cavernous interior, but it was a joy drive, no matter if I was on the tarmac or forest roads.

Photo by Rick Stowe

To be upfront, I must admit I’m a truck guy. My current daily driver is a midsize truck, and so was the one before that (a beloved Tacoma with 265,000 miles on it). More often than not, I think my next rig will be a full-sized truck. However, at the end of my time with the Sequoia, I found myself tempted to perhaps re-evaluate that thinking.

Under the Hood

I was pleasantly surprised with the iForce Max power plant. Initially, I had my reservations, but the twin-turbo hybrid V-6 won me over within minutes. It produces 437 horsepower and 583 lb-ft of torque, with 48 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque coming from the integrated electric motor. In Sport Mode, I found this SUV has plenty of pep to get off the line quickly. It provides a robust driving experience and generally induces grins in both the driver and passengers. In Eco Mode, the Sequoia was still responsive to the throttle, but the speedometer wasn’t prone to climbing nearly as quickly, and of course, it provided impressive fuel economy – for its size. Even after plenty of time in Sport Mode and lots of idling during a photoshoot, it was still averaging 16.9 mpg while cruising up and down fire roads.

Photo by Rick Stowe

If the Sequoia’s huge interior and stout factory roof rack somehow can’t haul all of the gear you need, you’re still in luck. The TRD Pro trim can tow over 9,000 pounds, which is more than enough to take a small to mid-sized off-road trailer into the backcountry.

READ MORE: Best Toyotas of Overland Expo East 2023

On the Trail

On the outside, plenty of off-road-focused features are evident, but the most obvious difference between this and other trims is the 3.5-inch suspension lift. The TRD-tuned internal bypass FOX shocks provide a responsive ride, and the Sequoia never felt floaty or cumbersome. While we didn’t test them, this rig also features aluminum skid plates to protect the undercarriage.

Photo by Rick Stowe

Photo by Rick Stowe

Photo by Rick Stowe

You might think that the large size and boxy design mean the Sequoia can’t compete with smaller, more agile SUVs, but in terms of approach and departure angles, the difference is small. The TRD Pro trim features an approach angle of 23 degrees and a departure angle of 20 degrees. I never encountered any issues in terms of ground clearance capability during our review period.

Bold and Modular Design

On the inside, the Sequoia provides plenty of space, comfortable seats, and plenty of features. This model was rocking the Cockpit Red Softex interior, but customers looking for a more subdued look can opt for the same material in black. Regardless of color, the mix of textures and overall quality is what you would expect from a top-tier SUV that mixes off-road capability and comfort-focused features. While the materials might resonate with the leather and wood grain crowd, the interior is high quality, comfortable, and durable -all points that I prefer for a daily driver that pulls double duty as an overland rig.

Photo by Rick Stowe

Photo by Rick Stowe

Photo by Rick Stowe

Photo by Rick Stowe

Four adults plus all the gear for a weekend camping trip can travel comfortably with the third-row seats folded. There’s even more space with the rear seats folded and the middle row stowed. And even when the third row is in place, a small 12V fridge will still fit in the cargo area. A 60/40 split in the third row provides plenty of flexibility for cargo. The Sequoia conveniently features buttons to fold or deploy the rear seats in both the passenger area and near the liftgate.

Photo by Rick Stowe

Photo by Rick Stowe

Some very low-profile cargo anchors provide an easy way to secure anything behind the third row. Our only complaint is that when the second and third rows are folded, they aren’t exactly flat, but the interior can still hold a ton of gear. As a matter of fact, it can fit more gear than the bed of my midsize pickup.

READ MORE: An Insider Look at the All-New 2024 Toyota Tacoma

Feature Packed

This top-of-the-line SUV is packed with all of the tech you would expect. In fact, there’s far too much to list here, so here are a few of our favorites.

Photo by Rick Stowe

The cameras on the Sequoia are next level. The Panoramic View Monitor offers various forward, reverse, and 360-degree views, so you’ll never have to worry that some rock or stump will surprise you. It offers several views that are just as useful off-road as they are in tight parking situations. While having these safety features is great, some competing models suffer from low resolution, lens distortion, or other issues. This is not the case with the Sequoia.

Low Beam | Photo by Rick Stowe

High Beam | Photo by Rick Stowe

High Beam Plus Lightbar | Photo by Rick Stowe

Photo by Rick Stowe

A safe generalization: Overlanders love lights. And the TRD Pro Sequoia definitely scratches that itch. Outside of the auto-dimming capability and more than adequate headlights, the integrated light bar that’s available as a part of the TRD Pro package takes “stock” lighting to a whole new level.

Photo by Rick Stowe

Photo by Rick Stowe

When traversing steep trails, four-wheel drive, plenty of torque, and cameras are handy. However, keeping acceleration in check is the one feature that can make a nerve-racking descent a walk in the proverbial park. I’ve tested several models from a handful of carmakers that included some sort of descent control, but the Downhill Assist Control found in the Sequoia is one of the smoothest and most simplified that I’ve seen. With a click of a button and the turn of a wheel, the DAC can be dialed into the desired speed. Hopefully, this system will trickle down to other Toyota trucks and SUVs as new models are released.  It gives drivers great peace of mind on long descents.

The Roof Rack

The only major complaint that I found with the Sequoia was the noise from the roof rack. At around 65 to 70 mph, it was the most noticeable, and crosswinds seemed to compound the problem. While wind noise is often a complaint with any roof rack, hopefully, Toyota can make a change to the shape or add a deflector to cut down on the wind noise.

Photo by Rick Stowe

The TRD Pro Sequoia could easily be a one-rig solution for overlanders and off-road enthusiasts wanting a bit more comfort and capability than a typical pickup truck. With a cavernous interior, tons of comfort and capability-based features, and even impressive fuel economy, it’s a great option if you need to transport people, load up with gear for the backcountry, or haul supplies for a DIY project. With an MSRP of $76,900, this particular trim of Sequoia ranks above some full-sized trucks, but it could be the perfect rig for some overlanders. It feels like a huge progression from the previous generation, and it fills the gap of an off-road-centric full-sized SUV.

Photo by Brett Willhelm

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