Comparison of interior colors (leather) for durability

sbsyncrosbsyncro Member Posts: 66
edited March 2014 in Volkswagen
Buying a 2003 Passat Wagon with leather. We originally wanted Fresco Green on Black leather, but it seems that is a rare combo. Plenty of gray interiors. I am worried that the gray may not hold up as well to the kids (3 and 6) tromping in and out of the back seat. I immediately ruled out beige leather (though I sure would love a Colorado Red on Beige W8 sedan for myself!)

Cleanability? Durability? skid marks from shoes on the threshold? Marks on the dash? And so on

Any other comments on black leather vs. gray (particularly in a wagon). We live in a mild climate in coastal California, so the normal "solar" issues with a black interior are not as much of a factor unless we are visitin Palm Desert or something like that.

Thanks for any and all advice - this board is great!


  • nematodenematode Member Posts: 448
    If you have a brown (chocolate) dog that likes to swim and play in the mud like ours....there is no other color than tan. If dirt color or animal hair color was an option it would have been my first choice. Still, even after 3 years of use the tan leather seating surface and the rest of the pleather in my wife Subaru Outback is perfect. I clean it when its really really really dirty (a total of 3 times) but its way better than the cloth in our old car. There is a seat cover when he rides in the back but crud gets everywhere!! Animal hair (both dog and cat), dog drool, pond water, various colors of dirt and mud, food, soda, and a brutal crayon assult from a nephew cannot hurt it. Leather and pleather are the only way to go.
  • wagonmeisterwagonmeister Member Posts: 15
    We'll be picking up our 2003 Fresco Green wagon w/ black leather on Saturday, and you're right, it is a rare combo as we special ordered and waited 3 months for but it is exactly what I want. The tan is more like butterscotch and with my kids, it'll be dirty in no time. I've heard this complaint from others on the Vortex board who got beige leather. I really can't speak for the gray, haven't heard whether it stays clean or not. In the end you have to decide. Another reason we chose black leather is that it looks great with the teak woodtrim kit we had applied, very classy IMHO.
  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Member Posts: 227
    I find it extremely easy to re-dye in case it gets worn or discolored. No matter what color the stain is, you can always darken it. ;)
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    I fyou have kids, it doesn't matter what color you choose. They'll have it wiped out in no time.
  • bretfrazbretfraz Member Posts: 2,021
    Most modern leather seating is spray dyed and clearcoated. They all get dirty and show wear. The key to keeping your leather looking good is frequent cleaning, regular protection, and no harsh household detergents.

    There are a number of companies making seat covers for cars. Seek them out if this is an option you're interested in.

    Eagle One, Pinnacle, and Lexol all make excellent leather care products. Protect with 303 Aerospace protectant. Do not use hyde food or some "olde tyme, down home" leather care products on modern auto leather - they don't work worth a darn.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Covers are a great idea, the only defense really. Otherwise, I agree with Opatience, your leather seats are doomed.

    But given the cloth seat options in the Passat, which are very annoying to keep clean, I'd say if you have to have leather get the black if you have kids. Like idle says, it can be more easily detailed and patched up.
  • sbsyncrosbsyncro Member Posts: 66
    Seat covers would interfere with the deployment of the airbags that are stitched into the sides of the seats - right?

    Thanks for the feedback - I think we are going to have to get gray, based on availability...

    Thanks all
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Oh, I hadn't thought about that but I guess the cover manufacturer will make adjustments as necessary.

    I'd get the covers no matter what color you choose.
  • bronsonbbronsonb Member Posts: 170
    I leased a 2003 Passat Wagon in October 2002 and got the gray leather. The exterior is Blue Anthracite, and they had another wagon on the lot exactly like the one I got but with black leather. I was afraid the black would be too dark, and I do like the gray. I have one two-year old son, and he hasn't managed to trash the seats yet. I've spilled milk and soda on the seats, and all spills come up easily. My son has scuffed up the back of the front seat by kicking it from his car seat, but the scuff marks clean up very easily. So far, I love the color of the leather and am glad I didn't get black.
  • altair4altair4 Member Posts: 1,469
    Hey, I know it's almost a cliche combo for a German car, but it works. Dust shows, but a microfibre dusting cloth cleans it in seconds. Haven't had the opportunity to test it with spills (yet), but I do like the looks.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Gray is a nice color for leather.

    You have to remember that leather is essentially an organic material, so some stains are going to set. I think coffee is particulary bad, so made sure your son has a cup holder for his latte.

    Mostly my experience has been that what kills leather isn't stains but scratches (kids shoes, dog nails, etc.) and the leather just drying out and pulling the stitches (ripping out of the holes).

    I don't think modern leathers have the durability of the old stuff in the sense that took care of the old stuff really well it would last 25 years, maybe 50. New leathers seem to be heavily dyed, almost painted, and they look great and seem to wear well enough--but they don't seem able to take much abuse, and age isn't kind to them.

    Perhaps it's more a question of modern owners not taking care of the interiors, that's also possible.
  • reidkreidk Member Posts: 46
    Have beige leather seats & trim in '99 GLS, around 43K miles.

    Have had to wash the Drivers "handgrip" area on a frequent basis, & touch up the lower 'kick panels' when washing the car (not leather, but also beige - Passenger side & sometimes rear seem to need it the most....); but seats have held up remarkably well, with only a couple of Damp Cloth 'washings,' using Murphy's Oil Soap, and the odd pass-by with a vacuum (carefully).

    (OH: daughter - or friend - managed to put a couple of ball point marks on padded leather area around rear door grip: took a heavier dose of Murphy's, but DID come out - just lucky perhaps....)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Trick is not to rub too hard or you'll take the dye out. You WERE lucky, ball point pen stains can be tough.
  • rubicon52rubicon52 Member Posts: 191
    I was a little reluctant to get light colored leather. The car is only 19 months old, but have been very satisfied with the leather. The leather has developed creases in it, but no sign of wear or discoloration. We don't have small children and are generally careful with the car (it's a third car used only for trips and joy riding). I've used Lexol cleaner and conditioner several times. Have never seen any dirt come off the leather during the cleaning.
  • jackieb7671jackieb7671 Member Posts: 3
    I was a little hesitant about the black leather in my '03 Blue Anthracite Wagon, but with my 6 year old son having an eye disease and he is very sensitive to light, the doubt was short lived. Yes, the dust and dirt show up, but it's very easy to clean. I also had my windows tinted (for my son)...and I must admit, when it is clean (with 6 and 5 year old boys, that's hard to do :) ) it really does look sharp. With the windows tinted, I notice quite frequently people will turn their heads to see what kind of car it is.
  • wagonmeisterwagonmeister Member Posts: 15
    What level of tint did you get for your wagon. I also have black leather and am contemplating either 50% or 35% tint. 35% is dark but nowhere near as dark as 20% which I don't want. Just wondering what you went with.
  • allhorizonallhorizon Member Posts: 483
    We have the gray leather, no problem to clean. Have had milk, juice, coffee, chocolate and other stains. Milk that sat in the sun for a week was a bit of a challenge, but with some warm water it came off. They have aged well and show no signs of wear or darkening after almost three years.

    A large cotton sheet or towel affixed with the headrest(s) under a child seat works well (although it may not look great). Make sure you vacuum the seams once in a while so that the dirt and sand do not destroy the thread.

    When I clean the seats (which is probably not often enough), I vacuum first, then I wipe them several times with a moist cloth, and then I use leather treatment.

    - D
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Member Posts: 1,391

    At least you've automatically ruled out the velour
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I was just peeking in my friend's BMW, 1996 model,with gray leather, 78K miles, no particular care of any kind BUT no kids or dogs and it looks....acceptable. But you can see a little wear. I suspect at 125K it's going to either need a massive detailing and/or some repair work. The outside of the car looks worse.
  • jackieb7671jackieb7671 Member Posts: 3
    To be honest I don't know which tinting I have. I do know though that it is the darkest I could go legally here in Nebraska. I'll double check, but I'm guessing that it's's dark, but not really, really dark. Good question..I'll let you know.
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