Even in a sober, sensible color, nobody misses the 2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro. Spec it in eye-searing Solar Octane orange, and the burly three-row SUV is positively obnoxious in how it grabs eyeballs. While you've got their attention, you might as well point out it's also a hybrid.
Nobody is going to mistake the Sequoia TRD Pro for anything close to a Prius, mind. By the time the Toyota Racing Development team has had its wicked way with the beefy truck, what usually starts at under $59k (plus $1,595 destination) has escalated to a heady $76,000. Throw in $290 for the power-extending tow mirrors, $87 for the ball mount, a $499 dash cam, $1,395 TRD Roof Rack, and of course $425 for the retina-roasting paint job, and the SUV you see here crests the $80k mark.
Your money converts what's usually a large, family-friendly vehicle into something unexpectedly eager to go off-road. You could well argue, in fact, that the TRD Pro treatment gives the Sequoia the glow-up its platform deserves. With underpinnings shared by the Land Cruiser that the USA is now denied — and the always-surprisingly-capable Lexus LX which Toyota HQ believes North America can enjoy, as a treat — it's not unfair to suggest that the architecture is wasted on the school run.
The TRD division has some good bones to start with, then, and Toyota's engine doesn't let the side down. Every 2023 Sequoia comes with the same 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 hybrid i-FORCE MAX engine, paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. It packs 437 horsepower and 583 lb-ft of torque, which in the case of the TRD Pro is pushed to the automaker's 4WDemand part-time 4-wheel drive system.
That has an electronically-controlled locking rear differential, a 2-speed transfer case with high/low range, and an automatic limited-slip differential. While other Sequoia trims can be had with air suspension, the TRD Pro opts for 2.5-inch FOX internal bypass coil-overs and rear remote-reservoir shocks
There's also a TRD Pro front stabilizer bar, a TRD aluminum front skid plate, and 18-inch TRD Pro matte-black forged aluminum BBS wheels with TRD center caps. They're shod in 285/65R18 Falken WILDPEAK all-terrain tires. Even with the fancy dual-tip exhaust, approach and departure angles increase to 23-degrees and 20-degrees respectively. It'll tow 9,020 pounds, and has 9.1-inches of ground clearance, half an inch more than the regular SUV
In short — and as you'd hope for the price — this is no mere styling package. Toyota wants to make it very clear that the Sequoia TRD Pro is entirely ready to go off-road if you are, and the gadgets onboard help there too. The Multi-Terrain Monitor is standard, with various camera angles around the SUV to help spot rocks, gullies, and other pratfalls.
Of course, it's just as useful (if not more so) in urban driving, where the scale of the Sequoia can be intimidating. Happily, Toyota assigns a large, dedicated button to summoning the camera view, because while the chunky tires add some curb-avoiding safety, it's entirely possible to lose pedestrians and even other cars in the not-inconsiderable blind spots. The outsized side mirrors which help so much with rear visibility take their toll on the front view.
The reality is, even with all the camera angles, this is a ridiculously large SUV. It's also worth noting that the TRD Pro trim has a larger turning circle than its Sequoia siblings, even though Toyota has slightly reduced lock-to-lock on the steering. At 44.52 feet, curb-to-curb, it's more than 4 feet more than the other versions of the truck, and that can take a little getting used to as you try to squeeze into parking spots
Despite what you might suspect from the 6,150-pound curb weight, though, the TRD Pro doesn't feel sluggish. Toyota's hybrid system is the fix to that, sandwiching an electric motor between the engine and the transmission. A Ni-MH battery supplies enough juice for brief, low-speed forays on electric power only, though the decision there is left to the truck rather than offering a dedicated (and, frankly, pointless) EV mode.
Really, the hybridization here is for besting the torque curve. The Sequoia is positively spritely from a standing start, capable of shocking other drivers with more than just its scale. It only gets more aggressive in Sport mode, with the transmission in the "S" setting, and whether you're in the regular 2H or 4H mode, there's never a sense that the big Toyota is lacking in punch.
While my testing didn't take me across any significant off-road course, the Midwest winter supplied plenty of snow and ice to test the Sequoia's sure-footedness. Easily modulated power combined with plenty of traction made light work of handling that, and the SUV slips between 2H and 4H without the clunking pause that many rivals suffer. The steering could do with being a little firmer, mind, and feedback through the electrically-assisted system is fairly mild.