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Leather vs Cloth Seats



  • meredithmeredith Posts: 578
    After 30 or more days of inactivity....

    this topic is being "frozen." It will be archived or deleted in the next 10 days or so.

    Front Porch Philosopher
    SUV, Pickups, & Aftermarket and Accessories Host
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    I know leather is the cool thing to have, and bling is in for wheels.

    HOWEVER, cloth is easier to maintain and won't burn you in the hot summer, and you don't have to cringe/fret/cry when you scrape your cheap plastic wheel cover against the curb!
  • 62vetteefp62vetteefp Posts: 6,048
    HOWEVER, cloth is easier to maintain

    Huhh? There is no maintenance on either. However if you have kids or eat in your car leather is the only way to go. Cloth stains/stuff sticks to it etc. If you have kids leather is the way to go.
  • louisweilouiswei Posts: 3,717
    Huhh? There is no maintenance on either.

    Don't have to put on conditioner on the cloth. Now don't tell me that you never condition your leather seats...
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,307
    We agree. Leather needs conditioner and repeated rubbing with it to keep it clean. It's time to redo mine.

    I love cloth because it's warm in winter and cool in summer when you sit on it. It breathes during a long drive.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • nwngnwng Posts: 664
    I'm glad you have climate control garages both at home and at work, but you gotta park your car outside sometimes, say when it's 20 degrees out :surprise:
  • 62vetteefp62vetteefp Posts: 6,048
    Conditioner does no good on leather seats in auto vehicles. All vehicles today (whoops, except for a few that are semi-analine/high end vehicles) are impregnated with vinyl and do not need any upkeep.
  • 62vetteefp62vetteefp Posts: 6,048
    Did not disagree with that but (my garage is semi heated since my daughters room is above!) the heated seats come on quick.

    Anyway, my point is if you have kids leather is better material than cloth.
  • louisweilouiswei Posts: 3,717
    Never heard about his Eagle Ottawa before but if premium brands like MB, BMW, Lexus and Cadillac told me that the seats are made out of leather (not leatherette) then I believe them.
  • 62vetteefp62vetteefp Posts: 6,048
    Not sure of your comment but leather seats are made of leather. Lower end vehicles have pieces of vinyl in certain areas and not as much leather. But still uses leather that is coated for long term protection.

    Semi-analine is a method of processing that has little top coat protection and requires maintenence. ottawa makes the leather used in Cadillacs.

    What is leatherette?
  • Leatherette is the fake leather used in BMW/MINI vehicles.

    It is a very, very good vinyl that at first look or touch is hard to tell apart from leather. It even sort of smells like leather at first.

    The leather in our Rovers is supposed to be fed or conditioned from time to time. The leather used on the dash pads in particular can get beat up if you don't put conditioner on it from time to time.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,885
    I feed/condition the leather in my car every few months. It looks good and smells good. I wouldn't believe any claims of maintenance-free leather. It might look nice for as long as you own the car...but it won't be forever. Yet if you maintain it, it can.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,307
    >impregnated with vinyl and do not need any upkeep.

    Are you saying that absolutely nothing should be done to clean and maintain the leather seats in my Limited? Are you saying it's not leather?

    I used Meguaier's and then Mother's leather cleaner and the seats sure felt better afterwards. The Mother's took the dark crud out of the depths of the wrinkles in a thorough cleaning last summer. The light-colored leather looked great. Washing with water didn't do that.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • 62vetteefp62vetteefp Posts: 6,048
    Here is what GM says about the leather in thier normal leather interiors.

    "A soft cloth dampened with water may be used to remove dust. If a more thorough cleaning is necessary, a soft cloth dampened with a mild soap solution can be used. .....Many commercial leather cleaners and coatings that are sold to preserve and protect leather may permantly change the appearance and feel of your leather are not recommended. Do not use silicone or wax-base products, or those containing organic solvents to clean...."

    Most OEM's-GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, etc. use leather that has been coated for protection and wear. Europeans tend to (at least they used to) use untreated leather that would wear and need maintenance. Perhaps you feel I am wrong but most americans do not like the look of worn leather in their cars and do not want to do maintenence. Yes untreated (semi-analine and full analine) leathers are what are used in high end house furniture and some vehicles (some ford ranch truck or something and MB) but they need work and lose their new look.

    All GM cars that have leather interiors are leather. They are just coated for wear and protection. Some parts of the seats may be vinyl.
  • I'm really not much of a gadget head, but I love leather. I've never had a car with the stuff, but I know that the next car I buy will have it. The problem is, I don't want to take a higher trim level that comes with electronic crap I don't want, like navigation, DVD systems, inside/outside temperature, bluetooth, etc.

    Does anyone know of sedans or wagons that offer leather seats without having to take such a high trim level that I would be stuck paying for all of those extras I don't want?
  • litmanlitman Posts: 10
    I would look at entry level luxury branded vehicles like Acura and Infiniti. The Acura TSX and the Infiniti G35 might be good places to start. However, I think the TSX starts in the mid-twenties, and the G starts around 30K.

    I'm pretty sure leather is standard in the TSX. I know it is standard in the G35 in all models after 2004.

    If you are not opposed to buying a used car, you can easily find a 2-3 year old used sedan with leather but fewer gadgets. For example, I have a 2002 Infiniti I35 which I bought used last year. The car is basically a rebadged "luxury" Nissan Maxima, and it was discontinued after 2004. I bet you could find a 2003 or 2004 for under 20K.

    If you want to drop even lower in price, and you don't mind used, try the Accord at the EX trim level, the Maxima at the GLE level, and I think the highest trim level on the Camry is the XLE. I'm focusing on used cars because a few years ago Navigation (the option currently "bundled" with the most tech options and accompanying price increase) was still a newer technology; leather, however, has been around for a while. I'm focusing on Japanese models because I am biased towards them, know the models better, and consider them to be more reliable - especially if we a talking about used cars.

    My wife and I both switched to leather seats in 2001, and I doubt we will ever go back to cloth.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 3,006
    You can always have leather put on aftermarket. That way you aren't stuck with higher trim levels if you don't want them. Sometimes it's even nicer than the factory leather.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • bill731bill731 Posts: 17
    We have the new Saturn Aura XE,(NA car of the year) You can get this car with heated leather without any of the options you mentioned.

  • kmausskmauss Posts: 74
    Hello! I was casually car shopping yesterday and I ran across a 2006 leftover that is really, really tempting. One big hesitation is that it has leather seats. I'm envisioning an awful lot of "maintenance" to keep them looking good. Are my fears unfounded? I'm not a complete car freak, but I like my vehicles to look decent inside. All of you with leather interiors -- how much trouble are they? Thanks! :)
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 3,006
    Your fears are completely unfounded! Leather is so much nicer and easier than cloth! There is very little maintenance -- swiping them with leather cleaner once in awhile. They don't have fibers and hair cling to them like cloth and stay much cleaner. I will never go back to cloth seats.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • nj2pa2ncnj2pa2nc Posts: 813
    i second it-unfounded. Both our cars have leather seats. I put a leather conditioner on them every month or so. I don't really know if that is necessary but I figured what the Heck. I do love the smell of the leather.They are easier to keep clean. They do get hot when they are exposed to the sun but I put up a sun shade.
  • mikes2mikes2 Posts: 47
    Just to add another data point - they are indeed not too much trouble, and much more resistant to stains, *but* if you don't do clean them once in a while, they can be a HUGE pain to clean. We let our '00 Maxima SE go way too long without cleaning the drivers seat (we seem to focus all our attention on the back seat where the kids are), and getting that dirt out now is turning into an immense pain.

    For what it's worth, I think cloth and leather can wear just fine, but if you have kids, leather is the only way to go. When car shopping, one of my key factors has become what the *back* of the front seats is made of - if it's fabric, I'd rule the car out. You can't imagine dirty, wet, slushy, salty winter boots will do to the back of the front seats.... :cry:


  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,852
    i never want to own another vehicle without heated seats. i always liked them, but since the car i now drive is parked outside overnight, i love them. i like cloth better, but if the seats are heated, i'll take either cloth or leather. a moonroof is required too, unless it is a convertible. my focus has heated cloth seats and a power moonroof.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • pernaperna Posts: 533
    Shopping for used cars a few years back was enough to dissuade me from ever buying a car with leather seats.

    As the leather ages, it starts to get little lines that show up all over it, not sure what these are from, but it makes the seat look awful. Another thing I noticed was in "family" type vehicles, there were all kinds of punctures and tears in the leather.

    The cloth seats in my 4 YO Maxima look brand new.
  • I'm not usually one for propaganda, but here goes my soapbox: Leather is not just a material. The huge increase in demand for animal skins over the last 20 years marks new heights in marketing prowess, and new lows in humane treatment to animals. Don't dismiss this notion if you haven't researched it. Just because most people like something doesn't make it a good thing. Parents, cloth can be cleaned or eventually replaced for less than the cost of animal skins, and with a clear conscious. Besides, driving enthusiast know that cloth is grippier in all occasions.
  • nj2pa2ncnj2pa2nc Posts: 813
    what happens to the skin of a beef cow after it has been slaughtered for meat consumption. I believe they use it to make the leather seats. i would never own an animal skin coat or fur. I am not a vegetarian either. since all our children are grown the car we chose to own only has leather.
  • smittynycsmittynyc Posts: 291
    "if you have kids, leather is the only way to go."

    I think you can "get by" with cloth in a pinch. There's this stuff called ScotchGard which makes cloth wear like iron.

    Even if you don't want to Scotchgard, it's pretty easy to clean up spilled water and cut-up apples or baby carrots or tortilla chips -- regular vacuuming with an upholstery brush and daubing with a very diluted mix of Simple Green and water works wonders.

    Reading through this thread, I get the impression that some folks are serving their kids fondue and candy apples and fried clams in the back seat! If you run the risk of having a pot of Manhattan clam chowder spilled in your ride, then by all means, opt for the leather.

    P.S. Eddie Bauer (and I'm sure there are others) makes an excellent product that completely and unobtrusively protects the rear of the front seats. We just wipe it clean with a wet cloth a couple of times a month. I would use them even if I had sturdy leather seats, if only to avoid scratches.
  • mikes2mikes2 Posts: 47
    While different points of view are certainly valid, I'm not sure it's as straightforward to say cloth is the choice of a "clear conscious".

    The increase in the use of leather (which I'll assume to be the case), doesn't correlate to "new lows in humane treatment of animals" (presumably cows). I have no data (either way) regarding how cattle which become leather are treated, but will assume you do, and it suggests they're not well treated. If that's the case, it's certainly a valid response to express those concerns to the auto industry (and leather furniture makers in general), to pressure them to purchase leather from sources that treat cattle humanely. People have successfully done it with clothing retailers (i.e. sweatshop concerns) and paper producers/users (e.g. sustainable forestry practices).

    In addition, before one assumes cloth is the better choice (ethically and otherwise), one needs to compare it at many levels. For example, I would think one should understand the total, overall environmental impact of creating a cloth interior vs. a leather one. I don't have the foggiest notion of the answer, but do know that cloth in cars is probably entirely or significantly synthetic - that means petrochemicals (and many other chemicals as well). One would want to compare the impact of extraction of the oil, transporting it, processing it, manufacturing the material, what chemicals are used, etc., etc. vs. the impact of raising a cow, slaughtering it, tanning, etc. Only then can one know which (if either) is a more ethical answer. I suspect the answer is far from clear, and that both have some real environmental drawbacks. (Even cotton can have a major impact - I recall seeing a program about the devastation caused by massive cotton production (esp. the need for huge irrigation and water diversion) in the former Soviet Union, particularly around the Aral and Caspian Seas.)

    At the same time, given that we're talking about the interior of a car (which has a marked environmental impact in its creation and operation), this point is somewhat ironic (though still a valid question to ponder)! ;)

  • mikes2mikes2 Posts: 47
    Smittynyc, do you have more info. on the products you mentioned, that protects the rear of the front seats? We've never found one that really works well, and would love to get one that works.

    I looked on the Eddie Bauer website, but didn't see anything like it.


  • smittynycsmittynyc Posts: 291

    Go to and search for "eddie bauer seatback protector".

    What separates this one from other seatback protectors I've tried is the fit -- you can get it on the seat really tightly, with no big hanging fold of material and no exposed spots. The color also matches our interior really well.
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