April 29, 2019
Back in the day when my 1973 Land Cruiser FJ40 was my only hunting and travel vehicle, cleaning it out after a trip was easy.
There was nothing but vinyl, rubber and painted steel inside, so I just took it to a do-it-yourself car wash and power-sprayed the entire interior—much to the amusement of those in adjacent booths (“Hey pal, you’re supposed to use that on the outside.”). Dry off the vinyl seats, pull the plugs and let the water drain through the floor holes. Done.
How different it is today. Our trucks now have interiors that wouldn’t be out of place in a luxury sedan. Fine fabrics or leather are standard on all but the most basic models.
And that’s great if, like so many urban truck and SUV owners, you never get that interior dirty. But what about those of us who still use those vehicles the way all the ads show? Like, you know, in the outdoors?
Sure, we can just make the choice to ignore ground-in dirt, mud and blood, but the interior will start looking — and smelling — pretty bad pretty quickly, while the trade-in value plummets.
It’s better to armor up that upholstery, which I recently did for our 2012 Tacoma with a set of covers from Marathon Seat Covers.
I was hesitant to try another set of seat covers. The last ones I had on this truck fit so poorly that it was a constant battle to keep the seat bottom covers in place.
Every time I got out, half of the cover would follow me. Get back in and it bunched up against the center console. So, fit was going to be a big part of whether or not the new ones got a thumbs-up or down.
No worries on that account. The instructions for the Marathon covers say to install the head restraint units first, and initially I thought they were too tight. Nope, just so perfectly snug that once on it was hard to tell they weren’t sewn in by Toyota.
The bottoms fit snugly too, and are held in place underneath by massive, industrial-strength hook-and-loop strips. In fact, the biggest hassle I had during installation was that the strips kept grabbing the truck’s carpet as I tucked them underneath. The back sections fit well around the prominent side bolsters of the buckets. And subsequent testing failed to produce any shifting on that bottom cushion. Thumbs-up there.
Since each set of Marathon seat covers is made to order (which means shipping is dependent on the work load, so plan in advance), such excellent fit is not surprising.
In terms of protection I had little doubt the Marathon covers would perform well: They’re made from Cordura nylon with a polyurethane backing and a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) top coating. They are completely water-proof (mud- and blood-proof, too), not to mention durable. If, like many Toyota owners, you consider 300,000 miles no big deal to put on a truck, these covers should still be in good shape when you finally trade yours in on that 2025 model.
They will look good too. Our Tacoma’s interior is a medium gray, so I ordered the Marathon covers in a two-tone medium and dark gray. The result looked like it could have been a factory option.
I counted 36 color choices on the Marathon website, including a bunch of RealTree and Mossy Oak patterns should you wish to camouflage the interior of your truck. I don’t think there exists a factory interior you couldn’t complement with one or more of the available choices.
Picking a color or color combination isn’t all you’ll need to do. There are several other options from which to choose.
I ordered both seat-back and front-of-seat cushion knee pockets, thus not only protecting my seats but rendering them significantly more practical as well.
Other options include larger cargo pockets for the front of the seat, and gunloops on the back — even a bow holder. I ordered the center console cover as well, which matches nicely, although it’s not really necessary given the vinyl top of the console lid.
Of course, it’s nice to have this waterproof protection when you need it, but what if you’re off on a long road trip (or a concours competition?) and want that nice leather or brocade to sit on? I timed removal of both covers; it took less than 10 minutes. Even the headrest covers peeled off easily. Re-installing took only slightly longer after the first try. So you can easily employ the Marathon covers only when you actually need them.
Given their nearly bespoke nature, the Marathon covers are surprisingly affordable. The basic set for our Tacoma started at just $210, plus $40 for the headrests. Two-tone Cordura added $35, the front pockets $10 each, and the back pockets $15 each.
I can pretty much guarantee you that installing the Marathon covers will earn you back more than that in trade-in or selling value when the time comes to buy that 2025 Tacoma.