Is Leather Trim Real Leather?

Are you in the market for a new car with a luxurious seating option? Leather-trimmed seats are a popular choice, but what exactly are they? And are they worth the investment? 

In this article, we’ll explore the definition of leather-trimmed seats, compare them to full leather seats, and provide examples of cars that offer them. By the end, you’ll have all the information you need to make a decision. So, let’s get started! 

Leather Trimmed Seats
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Leather trimmed seats combine leather with other materials like vinyl or fabric to create a luxurious appearance and comfortable car seating experience. These seats are versatile, available in high-end and budget-friendly vehicles, and offer luxury to any car interior.

Manufacturers often use genuine leather for high-contact areas such as seating surfaces and armrests, while synthetic materials are used in less visible sections like side bolsters or rear panels. This approach allows manufacturers to create a premium appearance while keeping production costs low.

Is Leather Trim Real Leather?

Leather trimmed seats often raise the question of whether they’re made of genuine leather. The answer is yes but with a caveat: these seats combine genuine leather with synthetic materials like vinyl or fabric to create a stylish and cost-effective seating option.

The combination of genuine and synthetic materials provides a practical and cost-effective alternative to full-leather seating. The use of synthetic materials allows manufacturers to minimize production costs and make the seats easier to maintain.

How to Determine If Your Seats Are Leather Trimmed?

Here are a few methods you can use to identify whether your car seats are leather trimmed or fully upholstered in genuine leather: 

  1. Examine the texture and smell of the material. Genuine leather has a distinct, natural scent and feel that synthetic materials cannot replicate. 
  1. Touch the material and check for temperature. Genuine leather will feel cooler to the touch in hot temperatures and warmer in colder temperatures, while synthetic materials typically maintain a consistent temperature.
  1. Conduct a water absorption test by placing a tiny droplet of water on the surface of the material. Genuine leather absorbs the water, while synthetic materials cause the water to bead up and sit on the surface.
  1. Check your vehicle’s specifications through its owner’s manual or by contacting the manufacturer directly. They should provide accurate information about the type of upholstery used in your specific model.

Difference Between Real Leather Trimmed and Leather Seats

When choosing between leather trimmed and real leather seats for your car, there are several factors to consider. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:

a) Material Composition

Leather trimmed seats combine leather with synthetic materials such as vinyl or fabric. Typically, leather is used as an accent on certain seat parts, like bolsters and headrests, while most of the seat is made from other materials. In contrast, real leather seats are entirely covered in genuine leather without synthetic fabrics.

b) Cost Differences

Real leather seats are generally more costly than their faux-leather counterparts, as using genuine full-grain leather leads to higher production costs. 

As a result, vehicles equipped with real leather seating options are typically more expensive than those offering only partial or synthetic leather alternatives. However, the price difference may vary depending on brand reputation and the overall quality of both types of upholstery.

c) Maintenance Requirements

Genuine leather seats require regular care, including cleaning and conditioning, to maintain their appearance and prevent cracking or fading. On the other hand, leather trimmed seats may be easier to clean and maintain due to the synthetic materials used in combination with leather.

d) Comfort and Feel

Genuine leather seats are known for their luxurious feel, softness, and breathability. They provide a more comfortable seating experience than synthetic alternatives. 

Leather trimmed seats, while still offering some level of luxury due to the presence of real leather accents, may not offer the same level of comfort as full-grain leathers due to using synthetic materials.

What Are Leather Trimmed Seats
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Examples of Cars with these Seats

There are plenty of options if you’re in the market for a car with leather trimmed seats. Here are some popular examples: 

a) Honda Accord

The Honda Accord is a reliable and efficient mid-size sedan that offers plenty of features at an affordable price. The EX-L trim level comes with leather-trimmed seating surfaces and other luxurious amenities such as heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, and a premium audio system.

b) Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang is an American muscle car known for its performance and style. The GT Premium trim level includes leather-trimmed front seats that are both heated and cooled, making for a comfortable ride no matter the weather.

c) Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is an SUV capable of tackling rugged terrain while still providing a touch of luxury. The Limited trim level features Capri-leather trimmed seating surfaces with suede inserts, offering style and comfort.

d) Mazda CX-5

The Mazda CX-5 is a compact crossover SUV praised for its sporty handling and upscale interior. The Touring trim level features leatherette-trimmed seats with Lux Suede inserts, while the Grand Touring model upgrades to full leather seating surfaces.

Are Leather Trimmed Seats Better?

When choosing between leather trimmed seats and real leather seats, there are several factors to consider:


Leather trimmed seats are more durable than full leather seats due to the combination of synthetic materials with genuine leather accents. This blend can better withstand daily wear and tear compared to all-leather upholstery. 


Genuine leather seating surfaces offer a softer feel than most leather trimmed seats. In contrast, leather-trimmed options typically use vinyl or fabric as base material and don’t offer the same comfort level as an all-leather seat. 

Cost & Maintenance 

Real leather seats tend to be more expensive due to higher production costs associated with using premium-quality hides. They also require regular maintenance, such as conditioning and cleaning, to maintain their appearance and prevent damage. 

On the other hand, leather-trimmed seats are usually more affordable due to the use of synthetic materials in combination with genuine leather accents. They are also easier to clean and maintain since they are less susceptible to staining or fading than full-leather seats. 

Environmental Impact

The production process for genuine leather can have a higher environmental impact than synthetic materials used in leather-trimmed seats. Leather tanning involves chemicals that may be harmful if not properly managed.

In contrast, some manufacturers now use eco-friendly alternatives for synthetic upholstery material, reducing the overall ecological footprint associated with producing leather trimmed seats. 

Are They Worth It?

Selecting the right upholstery for your vehicle can be overwhelming, but leather trimmed seats are an excellent option for those seeking a stylish and luxurious interior. 

Not only do they provide durability, withstanding daily wear and tear better than all-leather upholstery, but they are also easier to clean and maintain. Additionally, they balance the softness of synthetic materials and the premium feel of genuine leather, offering both comfort and aesthetics.

Leather trimmed seats are a cost-effective option in the long run, adding a touch of luxury to a vehicle’s interior without the added expense of full-leather upholstery. They use less genuine leather than full-leather alternatives, making them an eco-friendly option.

It’s worth noting that while leather trimmed seats may suit some, they may not be suitable for everyone. So we suggest test-driving vehicles with different seat options to ensure you’re making an informed decision that suits your preferences.


All in all, leather trimmed seats are an excellent option for car owners who desire the luxury and comfort of leather interiors without the hefty price tag. With their premium feel and appearance, these seats provide a stylish and affordable solution for those who seek to enhance the look and feel of their vehicle’s interior. 

While they may not be entirely made of genuine leather, they offer a perfect balance of durability and comfort, making them a practical choice for everyday use. So if you’re looking to upgrade your car’s interior without breaking the bank, leather-trimmed seats are an excellent choice.

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Author: Dave Johnston

Dave is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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