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There’s something about the look of leather that exudes wealth and elegance. Whether it’s a leather jacket, leather shoes, or leather seat covers, leather has a timeless, classic look that’s sure to impress.
But if you’re looking to add some leather to the interior of your vehicle, it can be hard to know where to start. There are all kinds of different leathers (fake and real), and there are many different companies offering leather seat covers at wide-ranging prices. How are you supposed to know which is best?
To eliminate the confusion, we created this guide. Below, we’ll take a look at everything you need to know when shopping for leather seat covers. We’ll also give you our favorite leather seat covers currently on the market, so that you can spend less time researching and more time luxuriating in leather.
- Faux Leather vs. Genuine Leather Seat Covers
- Custom Fit vs. Universal Fit Seat Covers
- 3 Leather Seat Covers to Consider
Faux Leather vs. Genuine Leather Seat Covers
To start, we need to examine the different materials that leather seat covers use. The most basic difference is between real leather and synthetic leather. Even within these two categories, however, there’s a lot of variation.
Let’s start with real leather. The first thing to know is that you’re usually going to pay more for real leather than for synthetic. Producing real leather requires lots of time and effort. You can’t just make it in a factory — you also need to source the leather from live animals.
Real leather has both benefits and drawbacks. On the positive side, it looks, feels, and smells wonderful. You’re bound to get compliments from people riding in your vehicle, and you get to enjoy the luxury of leather every day.
There are also some drawbacks, however. To start, real leather requires special care and cleaning. It’s easy to scuff or stain it, which can be expensive to fix. And on the subject of expense, you’ll pay more for real leather seat covers than synthetic ones. Finally, some people may object to leather on ethical grounds, since it comes from animals.
On the other side, we have synthetic leather. This is a much broader category, encompassing everything from products that are completely synthetic to products such as PU leather, which blends parts of animal hide with polyurethane.
People have a tendency to think that “faux” leather is inferior to the real product. This can be the case with cheap synthetic leather, but there are also synthetic leathers available that look and feel nearly indistinguishable from real, premium leather.
Synthetic leather has a variety of benefits compared to real leather. To start, it’s possible to make waterproof synthetic leather seat covers. This can offer much greater protection against spills than real leather can provide. Additionally, synthetic leather tends to be cheaper than real leather, meaning you can make your car look great without breaking the bank.
The main downside of synthetic leather is that it risks looking cheap. Cheap synthetic leather can crack over time, and it can also wear out more quickly than the real thing. Some cheap synthetic leathers also have an unpleasant chemical smell, especially when first installed.
Note: You’ll sometimes hear synthetic leather seat covers referred to as “leatherette seat covers.”
Synthetic or Real Leather: Which Should You Choose?
Ultimately, the choice will come down to your budget and driving needs. If you have a high budget, aren’t worried about people spilling things on your seats, and don’t have any ethical objections, then genuine leather is the way to go.
On the other hand, if you’re on a tighter budget, want protection against spills, or have ethical objections to real leather, then synthetic leather seat covers will be better for you.
Custom Fit vs. Universal Fit Seat Covers
The other thing to consider when choosing a leather seat cover (or any car seat covers) is whether you want universal or custom fit covers. As with choosing synthetic or real leather, there are advantages and disadvantages to each.
Universal Fit Leather Seat Covers
Let’s start with universal fit seat covers. If a cover claims to be “universal,” that means it should theoretically fit any vehicle seat (within reason). These covers offer a “good enough” fit, and they’re perfect if you’re on a budget.
However, universal fit seat covers do have their downsides. First, they can end up looking cheap if they don’t fit your seats correctly. Additionally, a less than ideal fit can mean that your seats will be less protected from spills, dirt, and debris.
Custom Fit Leather Seat Covers
On the other end, we have custom fit seat covers. As the name implies, these covers will be customized to be a perfect fit for the specific shape of your vehicle’s seats. This means that you can find covers to fit all kinds of seats, from a split bench to the center console to the front seat.
The main advantage of custom fit covers is that they perfectly fit your vehicle. Whether you have a Dodge, Ford, GMC, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, or any other vehicle make, you can find custom fit covers for them. And if you drive a larger vehicle such as a van or truck, you don’t have to worry about the covers being too small.
The only downside to custom fit seat covers is that they come at a higher price than universal fit. However, if you can afford it, we highly recommend going with custom fit seat covers. They’ll look better, and they’ll provide far better protection than poorly fitting universal fit covers.
Custom Fit Seat Covers vs. Custom Seat Covers
Finally, we should mention that there’s a difference between “custom fit” seat covers and completely custom seat covers.
While custom fit covers will be designed to fit the shape of the seats in a particular vehicle model, custom seat covers will be customized to meet your exact specifications. You can choose high-end materials, custom patterns, and interesting colors. With custom leather seats, you can also control the type and texture of the leather used.
3 Leather Seat Covers to Consider
Now that you understand the different types of leather seat covers available, let’s take a look at some of the best leather seat covers currently available. We’ll start with the most affordable option and then move on to a couple more premium offerings.
1. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Leather
Our first option is a product from custom seat cover company CalTrend. As the name implies, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Leather is a product designed to mimic the look and feel of genuine leather.
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Leather seat covers are made in America from high-quality materials designed to offer superior protection against spills, mildew, fading, wear, and abrasion. They’re also easy to install — just slip them over your vehicle’s original upholstery. These seat covers consistently get 5-star customer reviews, so they’re definitely worth checking out.
Our next option comes from a well-known name in the seat cover space. Coverking Genuine Leather Seat Covers are the real deal. They’re made from top-grade American leather that’s been treated to resist rotting, mildew, and stains. Furthermore, these seat covers are custom-made to fit your vehicle’s specific seat shape.
In addition to the seat covers, Coverking will also include a free installation kit to help you put the new covers in place over your original seats. Finally, these covers come with a 2-year warranty, so you know you’re protected if something goes wrong.
Price: $624.99 (per row)
The final option on our list is Katzkin. This is a premium product, and it’s priced accordingly. However, you really do get what you pay for.
The first thing to understand about Katzkin leather interiors is that they are not seat covers that just go over your car’s existing upholstery. Instead, a professional installer will remove your vehicle’s old upholstery and replace it with a custom leather interior in the color of your choice.
All Katzkin leather is made of premium materials designed to match the rest of your vehicle’s interior. The company can also add custom embossing, embroidery, stitching, and piping to your seats (for a price, of course).
If you want some of the best leather seats that money can buy, then Katzkin is the way to go. Note that the price of the seats includes the cost of professional installation.
Price: Starting at $2,000 (though expect to pay extra for custom materials or designs)
Get the Right Leather Seat Covers for Your Vehicle
We hope this guide has helped you understand the different leather seat cover options available to you. Whether you’re looking for synthetic leather seats on a budget or luxury leather interiors, there’s a seat cover out there for your needs.
Looking for other ways to upgrade your vehicle’s interior? Check out our guides to the best floor mats and best floor liners. And if you’re looking to keep your car’s exterior free of ice, rain, and snow, check out our guide to the best windshield covers.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.