I bought a 2011 Toyota Tacoma this summer. Some of you may have a very real emotional reaction to that statement (good or bad), but I’ve dreamt of off-roading in a Toyota since I first saw Marty McFly’s truck in Back to the Future. Unfortunately, Toyota doesn’t sell the Hilux in the states any more. So, I settled for the Tacoma. The very nature of Toyota’s vehicles is function before fashion, but I still like nice things. I bought this Tacoma with the intention to do several modifications: leather interior, sunroof, paint job, wheels, and a 6-inch lift kit. I’m sure there will be more projects that come up, but the leather interior was a great starting point. After hours of research, I’m confident that I’ve found the best leather interior for your vehicle.

Before I could commit myself to the leather interior, I had to fix a major inconvenience with my truck. I’m not an unusually large guy, but Toyota seemingly built the seats in this truck for short people. When I sat up straight, my eye level was horizontal with the top of the windshield. I also had a tendency to hit my head on the doorframe when getting into the truck. Those may seem like minor inconveniences to some people, but it was a deal-breaker for me. Finding a solution to the problem wasn’t easy. I talked to several custom fabrication shops around town. Most of them wouldn’t mess with the stock seats for liability reasons. I didn’t want to replace the stock seats because the truck is still my daily driver. Replacing them would disable the air bags and make my family-friendly truck less safe.

After striking out with all of the custom fabrication companies, I began talking to a custom upholstery guy here in Denver. He was confident that he could take my requested two-inch height out of the seat — without losing the air bags — by modifying the floor brackets and/or the cushions. We scheduled a consultation, and I got excited. While I was at his shop, he poked around the seat for a bit and agreed to make it happen. We already talked about the best leather interior for the truck, so I chose my colors, put down my deposit, and scheduled the install for a week later.

I’m happy to report that the seat modifications gave me the two-inch drop I requested just from the modified floor brackets. It took the installer longer than he anticipated, but he was kind enough to stick to his original quote. I’ve had the truck back for a few days now, and I couldn’t be happier with the seats. I no longer hit my head, and the leather interior shows why it’s the best.

Best Leather Interior for Your Vehicle

The best leather interior for your vehicle is extremely dependent on your upholstery company. Even the best leather kit will look terrible if installed improperly. A bad install can also lead to tearing or loose stitching on your leather. Our recommendation is to shop wisely when considering an upholstery company. Tell them what you want to do and gauge your confidence through conversation. Once you feel comfortable with an installer, choose your colors, and buy some leather.

Based on all of our research and our real-world experience with the product, the best leather interior is from Katzkin Automotive Leather. We never recommend a product we don’t use ourselves. This isn’t a product recommendation we can monetize; we’re purely out for your best interests, as with every recommendation — even the recommendations we monetize.

Unfortunately for the do-it-yourselfers in the group, Katzkin will not sell direct to consumers. They will only sell their kits to authorized installation centers. I wouldn’t recommend trying to re-upholster your own seats anyway; it’s an extremely difficult project for anyone who doesn’t do it regularly. If you insist on doing this yourself, it is possible to order a kit online through Superior Auto Restyling.

My local Katzkin installation center doesn’t like doing anything but dealer installs. They prefer to avoid working with consumers directly. So, they sold the kit to my installer (a regular partner), and we were ready to stitch some leather. I’ve seen the difference between the installation center’s work and my upholstery guy’s work — you can tell a lot more care went into my truck versus a dealer vehicle. It’s a sad, but true reality.

Not only did my upholstery guy finish the seats, he did the door panels, new custom headrests, the stock headrests, and the center console. Check out the gallery below to see the finished work. Yes, those are orange leather accents with orange stitching. What can I say? I live in Broncos country. With monthly leather conditioning, my leather will last for the life of this vehicle. I paid a grand total of $1500 for the whole project: the Katzkin kit, additional leatherwork, and the seat adjustments. A friend of mine paid the installation center $1200 to do the Katzkin kit in his brand new vehicle. Depending on your needs and your vehicle, you’ll probably get a quote within that same price range. Check out the Katzkin website to find an installation center location near you.

Best Leather Interior for Your Vehicle in Pictures

Josh Carr
Josh founded eciov in 2008 and has overseen it's evolution into a lifestyle site. He enjoys all things digital, art, music, creativity -- anything that can evoke emotion. If he's not working on this site or at his day job as a UX Engineer, he's out riding his motorcycle or jumping his truck on trails in the mountains.
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