Cloth vs Leather vs Alcantara Car Seats

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Choosing the right fabric for your interior can be an important decision for the long-term enjoyment of your vehicle. To help make the decision easier, we have assessed 3 of the most popular car seat materials and compared them in key areas such as style, comfort and maintenance. Use this comparison to find the best fabric for your vehicle, lifestyle and budget.

Car Seat Material Comparison Table

Our VerdictBest for family cars & petsBest for affordable high qualityBest for luxury and high performance
Advantages– Durable
– Low maintenance
– Easy to clean
– Handles extreme temperatures well
– More colour options
– Affordable
– Luxurious
– Durable
– Easy to clean
– Good resale value
– Soft
– Breathable
– Stylish
– High grip
– Choice of colours
– Water-resistant
Disdvantages– Not as luxurious
– Hold onto smells
– Absorbs stains
– High maintenance
– Damaged by sun exposure
– Not good in extreme weather
– Expensive
– Difficult to repair damage

Cloth Seats

Cloth seats are low cost and are the standard upholstery for many vehicles (unless the owner has opted for another material). Cloth is cheap, durable and easy to clean making it a popular option for cars. It is resistant to mechanical wear and doesn’t get too hot in summer or too cold in winter.

Cloth Disadvantages

The downside to cloth car seats, particularly compared to leather and alcantara car seats, is that they aren’t as stylish. Cloth seats are common and are not considered to be a luxury or premium option.

If you or your passengers smoke you may want to avoid cloth seats as they not only hold onto the smells, the textile can easily end up with holes where hot ash has fallen. Unfortunately, cloth car seats don’t hold onto that new car smell for long. That is where a different fabric like leather or alcantara will provide better options for the interior of the vehicle.

RELATED: How to Clean Car Seats

Leather Seats

Leather seats can be made of natural (real leather), organic or eco-friendly leather. Eco-friendly leather is widely used as it is affordable and can be provided in a range of colours. However, most premium models prefer to use natural leather. This is because natural leather is generally considered more fitting with a high-end brand.

Leather is often used for seats and the steering wheel; it is stylish, feels nice and gives a high quality appearance without costing too much. The price of leather materials is more than the price of cloth or vinyl but is less than what you’ll pay for alcantara. Durability and ease of cleaning are two other key advantages of leather seats. Leather seats also won’t absorb stains as easily as cloth seats.

Leather Disadvantages

There are a couple of downsides to leather seats. They need to be maintained and properly cared for as leather can be damaged by sun exposure. The look and feel of leather can change if the leather isn’t maintained. Synthetic leather will absorb more heat than animal skin leather but it still gets very hot on sunny days. It also gets very cold on cooler days so you may want to consider heated seats to get around this issue.

Alcantara Seats

Alcantara is a textile material that is often confused with suede leather. Alcantara is a material that is specially designed for use in cars.

The advantages of Alcantara includes the appearance and how durable it is. It is suede-like in its softness and it is breathable making it very comfortable to sit on. The material looks great, offers more grip than leather and there is usually a choice of colours so you can select the one you prefer for your vehicle. The material is very resistant to wear, water-resistant and is easy to clean too.

Alcantara is good on a high temperature day as it won’t get sticky or wet if you are sweating during a long car journey. It is often used for the seat and steering wheel in sports cars as it is less slippery than other options.

Alcantara Disadvantages

There are a couple of disadvantages too though. Alcantara seats are the most expensive, costing more than leather. Also, the material will wear out over time. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to repair so in the case of damage or ageing it is best to replace the seat cover completely.

Making Your Choice

As you can see, each of the different upholstery options has its pros and cons. It comes down to personal preference, the best fabric for my car may not be the best fabric for yours.

Why Choose Cloth?

Cloth is a low maintenance option that handles both high heat and cool weather exceptionally well. It is often a good choice for family cars or cars that will be driven in extreme temperatures. You will also have more customisation options with cloth upholstery as you won’t be as limited in colours or designs.

Why Choose Leather?

Leather has long been a popular choice for car interiors. It is high quality and offers luxury and comfort. Leather is cheaper than Alcantara and often comes as standard in high-end cars. A key difference between leather and other fabric options is that leather seats will help to increase the resale value of vehicles.

Why Choose Alcantara?

Alcantara is often used in high performance sports vehicles. If you are looking for a seat material that offers good grip and remains stable when driving at high speeds then this is the one to choose. It has a sophisticated style and it is durable, soft and breathable. The main thing to consider is the high price tag.

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DriveQuest is a team of car lovers and enthusiasts. Our backgrounds and interests include 4x4s, car audio, track cars, modified street cars, muscle cars, and electric vehicles. We’re here to help with answers to all your automotive-related questions.