leather seats v. upholstery with kids? is leather still a pro?


New member

We are in the market for a minivan and in our looking the prospect of leather seats has come up and I got to thinking about it and wondered if perhaps having leather seats might not actually mesh with kids and carseats as well as upholstery. I've always had upholstery, I know that wiping up spills on leather is easier, but aside from that it got me wondering about all the other mamas out there who work with leather seats day in and day out and wondered about the nitty gritty...

So this is less of a "Do you like leather seats and think they are nice?" kind of question, but more of a...

-how hot do they get in the summer...(moot point for carseats, but not for adults or bigger kids)?
-do you line them with anything to protect them (or protect your legs from hot leather)?
-do you have dark leather and think that that might be even hotter in summer times than light leather?
-have they been damaged by you or your kids (if so what caused the damage - is it a likely thing to have happen if you have kids) and were they possible to repair?
-do carseats leave damage, creases, dents, and are any of them more permanent or worse than would be in upholstery?
-does leather actually stain and if so, what caused your stains?
-do you have a leather cleaner/conditioner that you use and if so what, and do you find that it makes a difference?

And any other day to day, nitty gritty details, mamas with leather seats can think of that might be useful in deciding whether or not purposefully look for leather or avoid it.

Thanks!!! :)


New member
I've loved having leather. Our last car had upholstery, and I didn't really mind that either, but overall I prefer leather. Car seats do leave dents, but no more so than upholstery and they come out with time. Our leather is tan, and don't get uncomfortably hot in the summer...my mom's charcoal grey seats are a little hot for comfort when you first get in when the weather is hot.

As far as maintenance...we have never really done anything special with ours. We regularly clean and don't have any major spots or stains, but we're due for a detailing and I'm curious to see if the leather comes back looking significantly cleaner than we get it ourselves. We've never had any damage to the leather in our car, though the driver's seat is starting to show some wear and cracking on the side. We had similar wear repaired on an earlier vehicle we had with leather, but I can't remember for the life of me how much it cost.


CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
I had cloth seats in my first Odyssey. They held up a lot better and were much nicer in the summer than the leather seats in my second Odyssey.

Better quality upholstery seats clean up just as easy as leather these days and they don't scuff, scratch or crease like leather. Cheap quality cloth isn't as good or as comfortable, but that stuff is usually reserved for budget level vehicles.

As for indentations, it's about the same cloth or leather and they usually come out over time on either one.

Personal preference, but I will avoid leather seats if at all possible unless they are cooled or ventilated, at least in front. Problem is, a lot of times you can't avoid them in higher trims.


New member
I have cloth and DH has leather. His seats have held up fine so far. We haven't had any damage from car seats installed (a true fit and radian) and he prefers them as they are easier to wipe clean.

I have cloth more for belief system reasons (I try to avoid animal products when possible) and have no complaints either. Mine definitely take a bit more scrubbing to get spills off.

I find both of our cars hot in the summer time regardless of fabric. Car seats have left dents in my cloth seats as well but they eventually pop back out.
I have leather (creme-colored) and I'm not the biggest fan. It gets creased and dirty and I get sweaty in the summer (and I live in Canada, not close to the US border at all). It's good for spills and that but I hate conditioning it and cleaning it all the time. I'm also always worried about something puncturing it. I think it really depends on what your daily life is like. I wish I had dark leather at least so that I wouldn't see all of the dirt.


New member
I much prefer the leather in our van to the cloth in our car. Ours is black which wasn't my first choice, but now I prefer it. Our windows are very tinted so I don't think it is any hotter than any other leather we've had before. I rarely wear shorts so I don't have trouble sticking to leather, but I know it does do that. Ours hasn't been damaged and the black means stains aren't an issue either. I let my kids have drinks and food in the car. Being able to just wipe the leather has helped countless times. My girls always get car sick and when they were younger, it'd get through the holes in the car seat and onto the vehicle seat. Very glad for leather in those instances!


New member
We have leather and I don't have any issues with it. I prefer darker leather but would prefer darker upholstery too. I don't have issues with it with regard to my car seats.


New member
I've had leather in all my cars since dd was born. My mother & dh have had some cloth and some leather. I have much preferred the leather, and so have they. The dents & marks are about the same, and no concerns about wiping up spills or getting off footprints.

As far as temperature goes, my black car with black leather was a little warmer than I like (Louisiana). My lighter colored cars have been fine.

We have not had any punctures or other damage, and I don't do anything special to clean or protect them.


New member
I have leather in my SUV but DH has upholstery in his car. I much prefer leather because it seems to wear much better than upholstery. I have tan leather seats in my car, and they don't seem to get much hotter than the seats in my hubby's car, but I do have tinted windows and the front seats have air conditioned seats, so on a really hot day, I can always start the car and let it cool for a few minutes. We live in Georgia so we're no stranger to hot temperatures.


New member
I have yet to get a vehicle with leather. This is mostly because you have to get the higher trim level to get leather and it's usually way more money than I want to spend on a car. If I were to get leather though, I'd want the kind that is cooled because nothing is worse than sticking and sweating on the leather here in Phoenix!

I would also get a darker color to hide dirt. My friend just got a new Highlander with tan leather and just days after she got it I could already see black smudges and dirt showing on it just from the kids' shoes brushing up on it as they climbed into their seats!

I have never had a problem with my upholstered seats looking dirty and worn. I had a 10 year -old Highlander that I traded in two years ago and the interior was still immaculate and the last 4 years was with kids. I probably kept it clean because I was the meanie who only let them have water in the car and limited any kind of eating in my car, but mostly so their seats didn't get all nasty!


New member
OP here again.

For those who have leather and talked about any maintenance (or lack thereof), can I ask how long you've had your leather seats? I'm not the best at car cleaning maintenance and I'm wondering if I'll skate by a year or 2 or 3 with the seats looking fine but what's gonna happen at the 5, 10, or 15 year mark. (We foresee having this van a long time.) I know upholstery wears too (anything does after long enough and hard enough use), but I'm wondering if the leather will look worse in 10 years than the upholstery.

So, can anyone tell me about their leather seats after 5 or 10 or more years? How are they holding up and what kind of care/maintenance did you do/not do to get them in the condition they are now.



New member
We have one car that is now 12 years old with leather seats. The seats still look great with very little wear(only the driver seat and the one that drives it is a mechanic so very dirty after work.)
We have a van, that is now used once a year to take junk off, that is 18 years old. There is a some wear in the seats but nothing bad.


New member
We have one car that is now 12 years old with leather seats. The seats still look great with very little wear(only the driver seat and the one that drives it is a mechanic so very dirty after work.) We have a van, that is now used once a year to take junk off, that is 18 years old. There is a some wear in the seats but nothing bad.

I have about the same experience. My car is 10 years old (although I bought it 2.5 years ago) and it's obvious that the prior owners were not as meticulous as I am about taking care of my car, but all things considered, it really doesn't look that bad for the age of the car. The driver's seat is more worn and the center console has some cracked leather (almost like where the driver would lean their elbow).

My dad owns a limousine company so he has constant in and out with people in the back seat. His cars are 2007 with 350000 miles and the seats still look like new.


New member
I think that lots of companies now use leather that is similar to bonded leather so I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't look great in 10-15 years. Pricier luxury vehicles often have true leather which should wear better but actually my favorite is Mercedes Benz's MB tex which is a fake leather than is so similar to leather... That people who consider themselves to be very knowledgable about fine leather couldn't tell the difference (anecdotally;). That stuff doesn't wear at all and looks the same in 20 years as it did new. That said... I personally don't think I would be happy with how upholstery would look in 15 years either but I am super picky and do properly treat and clean my leather frequently.


New member
We've had ours for almost 5 years...the vehicle is 7 years old. With the exception of the bit of cracking on the driver's seat, it's still looks great.


New member
I have leather and DH has cloth, I find my seats much easier to maintain. I have had leather in my last 2 cars, one I had for about 5-6 years and had no issues with and only occasionally treated and my Pilot('06) now which I usually just wipe down with a baby wipe when wet and its lighter colored as well, never had an issue with a stain.

It can get a little sticky in the summer but not awful. I have only had minor dents from seats and never an issue with them popping out after a few hours for the most severe. My kids are messy boys and eat anything in the car they have outside since we do several long trips and nothing has ever damaged the seats.


New member
I hate my leather seats. One got punctured, $800 to fix it! Annoying! They trap so much crud too and never seem clean. Plus they are sooooo cold in winter and so hot in summer. I much much much prefer cloth. I had 16-20 year old cloth in two cars that looked better than my leather after 7. And we are not crazy hard on the seats. Unfortunately for me, any trim level I want seems to require leather.


New member
Love leather seats and loathe upholstery seats. I have a company car, so I traded in my personal ride to save the money. I had an Acura...with leather. Now I have a Ford...with upholstery. Big frowny face. I sweat more in the seat and my suits seem to get creases in them more than they did when I had my Acura. Any spill that has happened in the back when I drive the kids around...ugh...it's there forever.

The leather in the Odyssey...now that is nice. If you tint your windows (which all of them in the back are in the Odyssey just standard at that trim level), then I never have a problem with "hot seats." At least leather reacts to the weather...whereas upholstery is just always seems warm. Plus, cleaning up any spills is incredibly simple. They make leather wipes like they do clorox wipes, so you can just simply wipe the seats clean every once in a while and give them a little oil to keep them from drying and cracking. If you keep the seats out of direct UV light, then your seats will last forever. You can park your car outside as long as you have UV tint protecting them. They will look better overtime with incredibly easy maintenance and make your car appear it's worth $1-2k more than the same car with upholstery.


New member
I've had leather on the last two vehicles. While I like the heated seats in the winter, the seats themselves were both uncomfortably hard, imo. Especially hard and cold when it's cold out! My Prius seats don't heat that well.

My friend has cloth in an older Santa Fe. God I love the older upholstery seats like in hers and my dd's older Sienna. They're so soft and comfortable! Anyway, way less painful getting in her car in the cold than in mine.

I'm hoping for heated cloth in my next vehicle.

I don't keep the car seat installed when not in use in Prius and the dents don't go away in between uses.


CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
The "Yes Essentials" upholstery fabric in my Highlander has been great so far. Cool, comfortable and easy cleanup. The dark leather in the QX60 I just tested was uncomfortably warm for me, like most leather interiors in vehicles I review. Fortunately, it had front seat ventilation which made it very comfortable, like the Highlander Hybrid Limited with perforated leather seating that I reviewed recently. The Highlander XLE that I reviewed was standard leather and heated only, also making it a bit too warm for my preference.

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