In the old days, leather was a luxury only reserved for the rich who could afford it. Having such luxury in your car was a feat and not common.
However, today’s automotive landscape now sees this as a normal occurrence as cars that cost a bit over $20,000 now have the option of leather seats.
Maybe you want a car with leather seats but are not sure if it’s necessary or not. Here we look at the pros and cons of leather seats, how to maintain them, and decide if they’re a luxury worth opting for.
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Are Leather Seats Worth it?
Yes and no depending on who you ask. You want leather seats in a luxury car as it gives the car a very expensive and sophisticated look. If you drive an economy or inexpensive car, you may not need them, as they increase the price of the vehicle.
Leather seats are a personal choice for the vehicle owner. If you just want a vehicle to drive around and do not care about materials, then you won’t miss leather seats.
These days, fairly affordable cars do sometimes have the option to be equipped with leather seats. It gives the car an upscale look compared to its cloth equivalent. Since you touch, feel, and interact with leather, it does give your car a more expensive look.
For high-end luxury cars, this is a must. Imagine a $100,000 Mercedes without leather seats, it will look cheap no matter the price tag. Once you are at a certain price point leather seats are no longer an option but come standard with the vehicle.
What are the Pros of Leather Seats?
Leather seats give your car a very expensive look, but beyond just looking good they do have some benefits:
- Stain resistant: Leather seats do not soak in stains as easily as fabric seats do. Stains generally remain on the lather and are easy to clean. They also do not hold in dirt
- Comfort: Plush leather seats are soft and provide an extra level of comfort.
- Aesthetically Pleasing: They look nice especially in a variety of colors but even in neutral colors they add quality to the interior.
- Nice Smell: Leather does have a nice natural smell which adds to the ambience of the interior.
- Resale Value: A car with leather seats is more valuable in both the new and used car market.
I’ve had cars with fabric seats and the opportunity to access cars with leather seats. Leather seats are indeed nice but hold on, they’re also some disadvantages.
What are the Cons of Leather Seats?
Leather seats, but they have their disadvantages. They’re expensive to buy and repair, do not do well in hot areas and must be maintained properly to keep looking good for a long time.
- More expensive: Leather seats cost a bit more than the fabric options. To have them installed as an aftermarket option would cost you between $1,500 and $2,000. This is just the starting price, as they go way up from there depending on the type of leather you want.
Recently, most economy cars can now be had with leather seats, but you can just option them with the car. To have these seats you have to opt for a package or a vehicle trim.
An example is the 2022 Honda Civic which starts at $21,900 but to get leather seats you need to upgrade to the touring trim which starts at $28,900. You do get some extra options along with the seats, but you must pay for this trim package to get leather seats.
- Temperature: If you live in a cold climate, then you may not need to worry about this. But if you live in a hot/warm environment, this could be a problem. Leather doesn’t fare well in hot areas as they tend to absorb heat, which makes them almost impossible to seat on when hot.
Eventually, if they keep going through these heat cycles without proper care, they become hardened and start to break. A solution to this is to get climate-controlled seats, but this is an extra option you have to pay for on top of your leather seats.
- High maintenance: Maintenance is essential to keep your leather seats in good condition. They may be easy to clean, but if neglected they will start to wear out and eventually start to crack. Worn leather seats are not great to look at, they can be repaired, but that is another added expense.
Maintenance is needed whether you have cloth seats or leather seats. But the leather options do need a little more effort to maintain them properly.
Leather Seats are for You if…
Leather seats are for you if you want a more luxurious and comfortable interior and don’t mind the extra cost. These seats do add to the overall beauty and experience of an interior.
They’re an expensive option, but they’re worth it to the right person. If you value the feel and look of your interior and also love to play with colors, then this could work for you.
The right leather choice and color combo could transform your vehicle and set it apart from similar cars on the road.
Leather Seats aren’t for You if…
Leather seats aren’t for you if you just don’t need them and are conscious of the extra cost and maintenance. Living in a hot environment should also be highly considered. And if you want to keep them looking great, but you have kids, then it’s an absolute NO.
Caring, maintaining, and using leather seats can be quite a challenge if you’re not prepared. It starts with the upfront cost, which may deter you from buying one. If you do get them, you can’t neglect them, or they’ll look bad over time. At some point, you will need some professional help as they age.
Living in hot areas will be an issue if your car is left under the sun. The seats could get very hot, making them almost impossible to use unless they cool down. Consequently, interior temperature also rises as the seats get hotter. As mentioned earlier you could get climate-controlled seats, but they cost more.
Finally, kids and leather do not always work together. Leather is the better option as kids will spill and stain the interior. This is where the easy to clean advantage is best, and it doesn’t absorb dirt and can easily be wiped clean. But with kids in your vehicle, it’s only a matter of time before they get torn, the same goes for pets.
How Can You Maintain Leather Seats?
Maintaining leather seats is best done professionally. Most professional detailers have the essential tools and cleaning products designed to make your leather look great and last longer. But you can also clean them routinely, and these are the best ways.
- Vacuum: using a vacuum cleaner will help suck out dirt and debris from the surface and crevices of the vehicle. Doing this first will help make sure there won’t be particles on the surface that will scratch your seats during the subsequent cleaning processes.
Note: Microfiber clothes and soft bristle brushes should be used for the next processes to achieve the best results. Do not use cheap or generic products as they could ruin your leather.
- Leather cleaner: These are solvents/solutions that help remove dirt and spots from your seats. Especially in conditions where beverages have been spilled and can leave stain marks. Leather cleaners can help soften the dirt and spot-filled areas, making them easy to clean.
- Leather conditioner: Without conditioning, leather seats will eventually get dried, become hard and brittle, and eventually, start to crack. Leather conditioners are wax-like products designed to easily be absorbed by the leather and restore its natural condition.
Fortunately, this does not need to be done regularly. 2 or 3 conditioning sessions a year is adequate, a bit more in hotter areas.
- Ceramic coating: Ceramic coating was originally designed for exterior paint finishes. However, some formulas have been created for interior trims and leather. They’re meant to act as a shielding coat between your leather and external elements.
Water and beverages can just bead off coated surfaces since they can make direct contact with the seats. This doesn’t need to be done regularly, either.
Note: Never spray any of the above solutions directly on the leather as they can leave spots if not properly cleaned. Instead, Spray adequate amounts on the microfiber towel and clean.
What Cars Can I Buy With Leather Seats?
Depreciated luxury cars are the best way to get a car with leather seats without breaking the bank. A cheaper car can have the option of leather seats, but this may not be full leather. Luxury cars also have the added benefits of leather extending to the dashboard, center console, and doors.
Having said this, cheaper cars do have leather seat options. Here are a few new cars under $30,000 with this option:
Chevy Malibu: $22,095
Subaru Legacy & Outback: $22,745
Volkswagen Golf: $23,195
Hyundai Sonata: $23,400
Toyota Prius: $24,200
Hyundai Tucson: $24,860
Hyundai Santa FE: $25,900
Honda Accord LX 1.5T: $26,180
Mazda 6: $26,700
Hyundai Veloster N: $27,820
Hyundai Genesis Coupe: $28,000
Honda Civic: $28,900
Honda Insight: $29.110
Dodge Charger: $29,895
Older versions of these cars within the last 5 years could also have the option of leather seats and would be a great buy.