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Should You Get Leather or Cloth for the Interior of Your Car?

Updated September 11, 2013

Ah, the smell of a new car! Just about everyone loves it, and scientists have even done research to prove that something about it – though they don’t know what – causes a release of endorphins in our brains. What causes the new car smell? It’s a mysterious fragrance, but part of it is caused by your car’s interior. And your car’s interior is one of the most important features of it for both style and comfort, so you should choose carefully. You have two choices – leather or cloth. Which is best? Here are some thoughts to help you decide.

Leather


Pros

The best thing about leather is that it just looks so luxurious, and it feels that way, too. It instantly makes a car seem more expensive, and it can boost its resale value in the future. It also has such a great smell to it. If you want that new car smell to last as long as possible, go with leather. If you have a spill in the car, leather is relatively easy to clean.
Cons


While leather is easy to clean, it does require regular maintenance if you want to keep it from cracking and looking worn. If you don’t properly clean the leather on a regular basis, it will wear rather quickly. In the summer and winter, leather seats can feel hot and cold, respectively. If you want to be as eco-friendly as possible, leather probably isn’t the best choice. A leather interior will also significantly increase the price of the car.
Cloth


Pros


Cloth seats are very comfortable, especially because you never have to worry about them feeling too hot or sticking to your skin. They don’t require much, if any, extra maintenance to prevent wear, so you can clean them according to your preferences. Cloth seats are much less expensive than leather, so they’re a great choice when you want to keep extra costs down.
Cons


While cloth seats don’t require much maintenance, they can be harder to clean when spills occur, and they tend to collect more dust and smells. Cleaning a cloth seat is like cleaning a carpet, and you could compare leather seats to a hardwood floor. Some people also feel that cloth seats cheapen the look of a car, and they can also cheapen its resale value.
A Third Option – Vinyl
Vinyl is actually a very popular choice for car interiors, and it is almost like a compromise between leather and cloth. Vinyl closely resembles leather, and it costs a fraction of the price. It’s not very eco-friendly considering its synthetic, but it is easy to clean and maintain. If you want the look and feel of leather, but don’t want to pay a steep price for it, vinyl, or “pleather,” is a great option for you. As is typical of most imitations, vinyl may not hold up quite as well over time as compared to leather (when both are properly maintained). To the untrained eye, it’s hard to tell the difference.

Dan Smith is a car expert and writer who works in Nissan sales for a living. He often writes about vehicles and loves to give advice about what to look for in a new or used car.

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Calvin Escobar
About Calvin Escobar

The Car scene is so diverse Where I come from, most enthusiasts recognize the amazing engineering (particularly the engines). The bulk of the ridicule originates from the manner in which many of the vehicles are modded/maintained. Thus, the jokes and or hate tends to be aimed more at the owner rather than the machine. All of which makes seeing properly sorted old Toyota's and Hondas at car meets, auto shows, and track days all the more refreshing.

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