Toyota Seat Step Patent
(Image/USPTO)

Toyota ‘Seat Step’ Patent Offers Leg Up to Roof Access

Toyota’s latest patent filing reveals an under-seat fold-out step system that should provide easier access to your roof rack.

Our intrepid patent hunters have just found a new and intriguing idea from Toyota. We’re calling it the Step Seat, and it’s a clever way to make it easier for truck and SUV buyers to reach cargo mounted to the roof of their vehicle.

Toyota Seat Step
(Image/USPTO)

Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing filed for the patent for the new invention called “Vehicle Roof Access Device.” It’s a patent filing, not a copyright, so you don’t get any clever marketing names just yet.

Published on June 7, the document calls it “an apparatus for enabling a user to access a roof of the vehicle and methods of using the same.”

We call it a clever step that pulls out of the truck’s seat and hides away when not in use.

Toyota Seat Step Patent

Toyota Seat Step
(Image/USPTO)

Rooftop tents, boxes, baskets, and racks are great ways to store extra gear. Especially if you’re headed outdoors and camping, boating or, really, just bringing the kids along with you.

The problem comes not when you’re hauling, but when you’re unloading and loading. Unless you’re an NBA center, the roof rack of a truck like the Tacoma or an SUV like the 4Runner is miles above the height you can reach.

There are solutions, like balancing your filthy boots precariously on the door sills or seat cushions, but none of them are great. Or safe, for that matter.

Toyota’s new patent starts with a plate stored in a slot in the seat. The drawings show the driver’s seat, but it looks like it could be stored in any of the truck’s seats.

Multi-Position Roof Stair

Toyota Seat Step
(Image/USPTO)

The plate pulls out and then gives you a secure place to stand before climbing up to access the roof of your vehicle. Toyota shows the step pivoting into an upright position that would offer a foothold that was narrower but also higher, making it easier for shorter users to get to the roof.

Rubber pads can be part of the step. This would help you have a better grip, making sure that some rain or wet boots don’t bring you crashing back down to earth.

The patent filing also describes a power-operated version of the step, for those who don’t want to risk getting dirty hands while pulling out and stowing the step. Or maybe just for Land Cruiser buyers who expect power everything.

Snow Problem Anymore

We like the step for more than just access to cargo. Anyone living in the snow belt knows the hazards of drivers who haven’t cleared the snow and ice from the roof of their truck or SUV. We also understand that snow is a long way up. This step would get rid of any last excuses for not clearing your truck.

This is just a patent filing, so no word on when — or even if — Toyota will bring it to production. Hopefully, they will, though, and hopefully, it will be soon. Because we’d all love an easier way to get to the top of our trucks and SUVs without setting up a ladder or jumping and hoping for the best.

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Evan Williams
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Evan has been drooling over cars since the time he learned to walk. Since then he's worked on controlling the drooling and expanded his interests to include hiking, cycling, and kayaking. He went to school for engineering but transitioned into a more satisfying career and has been writing automotive and outdoors news for nearly a decade