There’s a new Toyota Tacoma in the world finally, an event that hasn’t happened since 2015, a gap as long as two presidential terms, or how long it takes for Venus to return to the same spot in the night sky. I had to look that up. I’m just saying it’s been a while, and this truck is a big deal, and based on the pictures we’ve all been seeing, I’m going to guess there’s one particular one that has everyone choking on the twin metaphorical meatballs of confusion and what-the-hell-am-I-looking-at: the seats. Well, specifically the back of the front seats, which seem, at first glance, to be looking back at you. What’s going on here?
Here, let’s take a good look at these things:
First of all, I can’t think of another time that we’ve written an article about car seats and focused on the back of the seats, as seen from the second row, but here we are. Each seat has a robust-looking perimeter-type frame on the back, with a pair of angled struts in the middle, each topped with a knob and a small gauge. If we look closer at the knob and gauge, we can see that the knob is labeled AIR and the gauge is a pressure gauge:
What we’re looking at here are seats that have their own supplemental suspension system, which Toyota calls IsoDynamic Performance Seats, and describes like this:
Debuting exclusively on the new TRD Pro is a segment-first IsoDynamic Performance Seat that helps provide a smooth, confidence-inspiring ride for those in the driver and front passenger seats. The goal of this patent-pending feature is to stabilize the driver’s field of vision to improve focus, comfort, and reduce fatigue while on rugged trails. The IsoDynamic Performance Seat uses an air-over-oil shock absorber system allowing for vertical and lateral seat movement simultaneously to dampen body movement and stabilize the head and neck to keep alignment with the spine. This dampening effect is tunable based on body mass and occupant preference and can be bypassed, if desired, via levers on the seatbacks.
[Mercedes’ Note: Those black dials are actually valve stems. What you do is take a manual air pump and adjust the air pressure in the shocks for the kind of off-roading you’re doing and your weight. The air pressure also changes damping. The whole rig is supposed to prevent you from being totally beaten up off-road.
I’ve been told that while this seat will not move in huge movements like the air seat of a semi-tractor, it will have the ability to move about slightly to soften the blows of off-roading and harsh roads. Speaking with an engineer, they told me if you put a camera on the back window, you would see the seat move vertically and laterally to stabilize the occupant. Of course, if you just want a seat, you can turn the fancy shocks off.]
So, it seems the purpose of these IsoDynamic seats, aside from making sure your isos have enough dynamism, isn’t so much for comfort or safety or anything like that, but to basically keep your head, which houses your eyes (check and see, they should be a couple inches above where you keep your tongue) steady, making sure your field of vision is rock-steady while the rest of the truck around you bounces all over the place.
I think the goal is to achieve something similar to what chickens are capable of when they drive their trucks off-road. You’ve seen chickens do this, right?
I’m not exactly sure why the bypass is on the back of the seats, unless the responsibility to control how much head stability one should have is just traditionally the job of whoever is sitting in the back seat? Maybe it’s the sort of thing Toyota doesn’t want people screwing with while driving? I’m really not sure.
At the press event, our own Mercedes Streeter didn’t get a chance to actually try out these seats, but told me everything she did know:
I suspect these air-suspended seats in the new Tacoma will also help with comfort, even if that isn’t the main goal stated by Toyota. I’m willing to bet that, set up properly, these seats will let you drive over a speed bump at 45 mph and not even spill the bowl of piping-hot clam chowder in your lap, which is the dream of any new truck buyer.
Were you guessing the new Tacoma would have seats with air-over-oil shock absorbers? I wasn’t.
I’ll take the much simpler aftermarket suspension seats, thank you.
I’ll lump this in with angry-face Jeeps…..just something to look “cool” (cool being very subjective here) to make bros spend money.
“Basically, it’s a pimped out air seat.” was the call here. B.S. form over function. Why are those fake rams there. Does the seat recline at all? Of course it does, these aren’t racing seats, form molded to the driver. Even so, you never want the back to move vertically from the base. While I appreciate the application of seat suspension, this charade is an insult.