Sitting Pretty: Leather vs Fabric Interiors

Leather interiors are quite high-maintenance, but so luxurious and easy to clean.

Sitting Pretty: Leather vs Fabric Interiors

It’s easy to assume that leather interiors are the best because that’s what you’ll find in luxury and premium vehicles across the globe. But is that reason enough to assume that it’s better than fabric interiors? We’re taking a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of each of these interiors. Regardless of the verdict, we advise our readers to choose the option that they love most, regardless of what everyone else says.


We thought we might as well make the first criterium a controversial one. There is no way to determine which option looks better, because the answer changes depending on who you ask. Some people might prefer the sleek, smooth look of leather, while others love bold print or intricately stitched fabric.  No one can deny that supple leather seats look luxurious, but there is often not as big a variety of patterns and colours as fabric seats.

Fabric seats are more affordable and durable than leather. 


Leather is not cheap. And if it is, it’s often not durable. This is because leather has to undergo treatment that fabric doesn’t, takes longer than fabric to make and is much harder to work with. All of these factors contribute to the costs of decking your ride out with genuine leather, which requires constant care and maintenance that you might not be so happy to pay for. More often than not, what you’re actually getting is a leatherette, which is faux leather. That being said, many dealerships list it as leather.
If you’d like the “leather” look without the price tag, you could opt for vinyl seats. This is also an option for those with ethical concerns regarding leather upholstery. Vinyl looks and feels similar to leather, but is not as durable or long-lasting.

Fabric upholstery is more affordable and is usually what you’ll find in entry level cars. That being said, it’s definitely not always cheap. Some luxury brands like BMW and Audi offer models with both leather and fabric interior options.


Leather seats (and we mean genuine leather seats) feel amazingly soft and smooth, while leatherette seats can feel brittle. These seats are unfortunately very prone to being uncomfortable due to temperature changes – they can either become very cold or very hot, which definitely takes away from the comfort of your drive.
This means you need to take your usual climate conditions into consideration when choosing your upholstery. In colder climates you might have to get seat warmers, which will add to the cost of your vehicle.  

Fabric seats are usually soft and supportive – there isn’t much more to be said about it! Fabric seats are also not as susceptive to temperature changes as leather seats.


Leather seats win out on this one. Not only are they easier to clean, they also might help you stay healthier all year round. This is because, unlike fabric seats, leather isn’t porous and doesn’t allow for hair, dust or pollen to settle into it. You could take your pet for a ride, give your seats a quick wipe down and no one would be the wiser. Keep in mind that you definitely should consider getting a seat cover (even a temporary one) if you plan on transporting a pet. If you don’t use a pet carrier, which we always recommend, then your pet might not be able to have good grip on the smooth seats. Their claws or nails might also damage your seats.  

Read: How To Roadtrip With Pets

Fabric seats have a reputation of trapping dirt and dust even after short use. Mud and dirt might even need a deep shampoo, so fabric seats aren’t the best option if you plan on off-roading or road-tripping with kids/pets. You might even need to treat your seats with a stain guard every now and then.


Leather seats lose by a long shot. Real leather needs much more maintenance than fabric seats do. You’ll have to seal, treat and clean it often to retain its soft and shiny look. If you don’t take care of your leather seats, they can crack and peel, which looks and feel horrible. It might also affect the resale value of your car.
Fabric seats, while being harder to deep clean, don’t require much other maintenance.

What’s the verdict?

We recommend that you keep the above in mind when you’re shopping for a new car, 
but you should make the final decision based on your personal preference and needs.
Whether you prefer affordable and comfortable fabric, or the luxurious feel (and high maintenance) of leather, then go for it!

Regardless of which option you choose, when you buy a pre-owned vehicle, make sure that the upholstery is not damaged, stained or otherwise imperfect. As long as you keep your car’s interior clean and well-maintained, you’re in the clear.
Let us know which option you love or hate by commenting below. We’d love to hear from you!


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