The right car seat material type can make a world of difference in your driving experience. It has a direct impact on your safety and comfort. So, getting the wrong sort of car seat for your amazing vehicle is like wearing a wool sweater to the beach.

Excellent environment but a poor experience. So, considering these key things before choosing the material is vital:

  • Comfort
  • Aesthetics
  • Durability
  • Ease of cleaning
  • Price
  • Climate conditions

Now, there are 6 common car seat materials for you, namely leather, Alcantra, nylon, faux leather, polyester, and vinyl.

In this segment, we’ll explore these options in detail to see which one suits your preference, budget, and the climate that you’re living in.


A Breakdown of the 6 Different Types of Materials

From luxurious to durable, we’ll discuss all sorts of materials here. Read on to learn about what they have to offer:


1.     Alcantara

Alcantara is a synthetic suede car seat material that automakers use in their car to give them a luxurious and high-end look and feel. Consider these car seats as an equivalent of expensive designer shoes.

They not only make you look good but also work as a luxury symbol. Earlier, the Alcantara car seats were reserved for supercars only. However, lately, they have become available in everyday cars like the 2015 Toyota Camry XS.


Benefits of Having Alcantara as Your Car Seat

  • Extremely grippy and will keep planted in the seat during hard turns or stops
  • Breathable and won’t make you sweaty
  • Premium material and stands up well to leather car seats
  • Visually Appealing

Drawbacks of Having Alcantara as Your Car Seat

  • Can wear significantly over time
  • The fluffy look disappears when it loses the softness
Appearance Soft, fluffy, suede-like texture
Maintenance Regular cleaning is required. Specialized Alcantara cleaners can be used
Used In High-end cars usually
Material type Synthetic suede
Composition Polyester and polyurethane



2.     Leather

Leather car seats are a classic choice and are loved by most car owners. And leather has been associated with luxury and ensures a permanent demand in the market.

It’s very comfortable, and when you’re driving around the town, you’d like to be comfortable. That said, the price point is quite high, and a lot of people won’t feel comfortable using animal products in their cars.


Benefits of Having Leather as Your Car Seat

  • Gives a luxurious aesthetic look and feel
  • Durable in the long term
  • Cleaning is easy
  • Excellent for resale value

Drawbacks of Having Leather as Your Car Seat

  • Quite expensive
  • Ethically problematic for some people
  • If it cracks, it can be expensive to fix
Appearance Luxurious, classic
Maintenance Easy to clean, will require conditioning to prevent cracks
Used In High-end luxury cars, sports cars
Material Type Animal hide (typically cow or sheep)
Composition tanned collagen, moisture, oils and fat



3.     Leatherette

Leatherette, AKA faux leather, is a very convincing fake copy. Made from a combination of plastic or Vinyl and PVC, it comes really close to imitating the look and feel of leather.

It can deal with wear and tear really well and is also easy to clean.

Benefits of Having Leatherette as Your Car Seat

  • In terms of look and feel, really close to leather material
  • Maintenance is easy
  • Durable

Drawbacks of Having Leather as Your Car Seat

  • Gets hotter than the real leather
  • There’s very little resale value
Appearance Glossy and imitates real leather
Maintenance Easy, and can clean with a dry cloth to remove trapped dirt
Used In Entry-Mid range cars
Material Type Synthetic material
Composition PVC and plastic or vinyl


4.     Vinyl

Though vinyl is sometimes overlooked for more expensive options, it can be a good practical choice.

You might assume that since it’s cheaper, the quality isn’t that good, but you’ll be surprised with the modern vinyl car seats as they can be very impressive. So, if you want to save money, going for vinyl can be a smart choice.

Benefits of Having Vinyl as Your Car Seat

  • Waterproof and can be easily cleaned with a feather duster and microfiber cloth
  • Some companies use recycled plastic to make them environmentally friendly
  • The price is very reasonable

Drawbacks of Having Leather as Your Car Seat

  • Not very stylish
  • Gets too sweaty in the summer
Appearance Has a similar look to leather, but the luxurious feel isn’t there
Maintenance Minimum maintenance is required compared to leather and Alcantra
Used In Budge-friendly cars and commercial or fleet vehicles
Material type synthetic plastic


5.     Polyester

These are microsuede seats, though not very different from regular suede in looks. It’s like the diet coke version of the suede, very similar in nature but not quite the same level.

That said, I find the look interesting and I certainly would use one. However, polyester is like a magnet to the dirt and can quickly gather a lot of it.

So, you should consider polyester only if you’re willing to put in the effort to clean it regularly. Using car seat covers can be a good option as well.

Benefits of Having Polyester as Your Car Seat

  • It can be an alternative to leather seats
  • The price point is budget-friendly

Drawbacks of Having Polyester as Your Car Seat

  • Doesn’t give the premium feel
  • Gathers dirt quite fast
Appearance Suede-like appearance without the premium feel
Maintenance Requires regular vacuuming
Used In Mid-high-end vehicles
Material Type Synthetic suede made from polyester fibers
Composition Polyester fibers, Polyurethane foam, Nylon/polyester scrim backing


6.     Nylon

Nylon might not be the most exciting of the fabric options, but it’s certainly one of the most reliable ones and a quality car seat fabric. The nylon fabric car seats are very durable and can withstand a lot of tear and wear.

Also, it resists stains and spills well and is certainly better than Polyester car upholstery. However, for comfort-seeker car owners, it should be avoided as it doesn’t rate high in the comfort department.

Benefits of Having Nylon as Your Car Seat

  • Popular for their very durable fabric upholstery
  • It can be easily cleaned with a wipe
  • More affordable compared to leather seat material and suede

Drawbacks of Having Nylon as Your Car Seat

  • It can become hot and uncomfortable if you sit on it for a long time
  • Won’t give the luxurious feel
Appearance Sleek and smooth texture
Maintenance Cleaning isn’t tough as you can use any damp cloth for it
Used in It can be used both in budget and premium cars
Material type Synthetic fiber
Composition Polyamide (nylon) fibers


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best seat material in a car?

Personally, I think leather is the best seat material it gives both comfort and a luxurious feel. However, a lot of people like to use vinyl as their seat material and it’s the most popular option right now.

What lasts longer leather or vinyl?

No doubt leather lasts longer. Viny is an affordable alternative to leather but can’t match its durability.

What is the most premium seat material?

Leather is the most premium option. However, Ultrasuede/Alcantra can be considered an equal to it and is preferred by people who want an eco-friendly option.

Last Updated on April 27, 2023 by Danny Reid

Written by Linda Reid

Hey there, I'm Linda, a mom of three cool kids. I've tried so many car seats, you could call me a "Car Seat Detective." Searching for the perfect car seat can feel like finding a needle in a haystack, but don't worry! I've committed to researching and reviewing car seats that are super safe, cozy, and great for growing kids. Together, we'll find the perfect car seat that keeps your child safe and cozy, and makes you feel like a super-parent!