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Ford Escape - fabric vs leather

I’m looking at purchasing a 2010-2012 Ford Escape. I had one as a rental in Nevada a few years back. I put 4000 miles on in two weeks and really liked it. I’ve knocked off most of the other options for one reason or another (styling, comfort, whatever). Last week I test drove an XLT with fabric power seats. I don’t remember if my rental car had fabric or leather, but the ones in this car seemed a little flat. Is there any reason to think the optional leather seats would feel any different? I’m guessing just the upholstery is different, but I’m not certain.

So far I haven’t found one locally that looked promising enough to test drive. I mean, I don’t want to waste anybody’s time with a test drive if the thing has way too many miles or some such thing, and I’d feel silly saying, oh, I don’t want to DRIVE it, I just want to sit in the leather seats.

Anybody out there who, maybe, works at a dealer and drives these cars all the time?


FWIW, I’ve owned cars with both. While leather is nice and has “that smell” it’s also harder to keep looking good, expecially as the car ages. Also, if you live in a warm weather state, the leather is tough to sit on for the first few minutes after sitting in the sun all day. My latest car has cloth, and the seats are holding up just fine.

Every seat will feel different on used vehicles. It all depends on how they were broken in.

I live in a cold weather state. I almost bought a leather interior in '93, a brand new 929. Fortunately, they let me take it home overnight, and when I discovered how fast the leather sucked the heat out of my cheeks on the next (cold) morning, I realized that leather is not for me. I could feel the heat leaving my body all the way up to my eyeballs!

I guess that makes the point that leather isn’t so good for extreme tempurature ranges. :slight_smile:

That was my feeling.
Too bad, the 929 was a gorgeous vehicle.

One thing I’ve noticed about leather though, is while it may be initially cold or hot when you get in the car, it adjusts to your body temperature pretty quickly. And if you’re looking for heated seats, I don’t think there’s many to be had with cloth seats.

I think both leather and cloth wear about the same, though in my experience leather is a bit more durable and certainly more spill resistant.

Mostly though it’s about personal preference.

“Mostly though it’s about personal preference.”

I agree. I prefer leather as I live in a temperate zone. Cloth is OK but I always look for leather when buying a vehicle.

If small kids and spills are a consideration, leather is easier to clean, it can soak into cloth.

My current car has an “engineered material”. It’s amazing what they’ve invented since the nauga farms all went under… {:slight_smile:

Since seats are obviously important to you, you should make sure you spend some quality time seated in whatever you plan to buy, before doing so.

The only 2012 Escape with heated seats also has leather sheaths (Limied model). I have heated leather seats in my car, and my rear is not cold for long with the seat heaters.

I have driven both, and really care not, but my aging mother has trouble getting into a car with cloth seats, because in a leather seat she can more easily slide across. Just a thought if you need that for consideration.

@Barkydog, Mom could wear leather pants and have cloth seats!

It seems that responders are focusing on the issue of whether leather seats are comfortable in cold weather or not. However, that is not the question that the OP is asking.

The OP is asking if it is possible for a particular model of vehicle to have varying levels of seat comfort (in all temperatures), based on the type of seats in the vehicle, and the answer is…YES.

In any model of vehicle, be it a Ford Escape, a Subaru Outback, a Chevy Malibu, or…whatever…when somebody opts for leather seating (either as a discrete option, or as part of an options package, or simply as a different trim version of the same model) it is not unusual to get a better grade of seat construction and comfort with the more expensive (leather) version.

I have seen this many times, and the difference was not as a result of the material covering the seat, but instead was the result of seating that was upgraded beneath the leather seat covering.

Okay, now that makes sense. I’ll definitely have find one with leather seats and get some seat time in it. The one with cloth seats I drove last week had the 4 cylinder. First conclusion: I ABSOLUTELY want the V6. Power aside, the steering wheel shook at idle and it made a loud, raunchy yowl when accelerating.

I had a car previously that had a combination of leather on the sides and fabric in the middle. The leather was nice but it did start to crack and wear through after nine years. I remember the fabric in the 95 Neon Sport Coupe I bought new looked brand new when I traded it in with 111,000 miles. I could go either way.

The Escape I drove was at a Car Max store west of Philly, about an hour from me in NJ. There’s a gazillion other dealers around here, but I like the one price, no haggling thing. They have a fabulous website with tons of photos and details of each car. Their prices are highly competitive compared to what other dealers in the area are asking on their websites. And once I know exactly what I want, they’ll even l transfer a car from one of their other stores. Its free for a nearby store, or a couple hundred bucks for, say, New Haven, CT or DC. That greatly expands my search area.

Maybe while I’m looking I should try one or two other models. That Santa Fe I rented once was pretty nice, and I never did get around to driving a Nissan Rouge.

@jtsanders Nice idea, where do you take an 86 year old lady to shop for leather pants? The local Harley dealer? I had a tyveck coverall in the back, I put that over the seat and it seemed to work ok.

Sincere thanks, fireflight, for the follow up. We rarely gear from OPs whether we’ve helped or not, and what their decision is. It’s good to have closure.

That '95 Neon you mentioned probably had “engineered fabric” seat covers. There are synthetic fabrics commonplace now that far outlast leather, the old fabrics, or the budget alternative of my youth, naugahide. Not only are the new fabrics far more durable, they also breath… which naugahide did not. Naugahide wasn’t actually a “hide”, it was plastic coated cloth.

I’m in Minnesota and prefer leather but its up to you.

As another noted, the seat padding is usually quite different for leather seats. Car magazines and Consumer Reports often note the difference. Which is more comfortable just depends on you and the particular seats. I can’t say I’ve been all that impressed by the leather in older Escapes, but I prefer the breathability of cloth. When you’ve been parked in Death Valley in the sun and get back in your car, cloth is far more pleasant. One thing to note for all but the most expensive luxury cars (and I do mean the very top of the line) is that the only leather is the parts of the seat your butt and back touch. All the rest is matching vinyl. That’s how automakers can afford to put ‘leather seating surfaces’ even in some modestly priced cars. It doesn’t matter functionally that the rest is vinyl, but I’ve seen some frowns when I explained it (mostly by women - I guess they think their car seats should be more like a Coach bag than a Gucci knockoff.) They wouldn’t want to see the pricetag for full leather.

As for the six versus the four, go for it if you like the performance. I haven’t checked out reliability ratings on Escapes in a few years, but once upon a time the six had more problems than the four. But the engines were updated a few times during that long model run, so more recent versions may be more similar. Consumer Reports is your friend on questions like this.

@Barkydog‌, you take her anywhere she wants to shop for them. But I’d guess your mom isn’t interested in leather pants. Any interest I had in them faded long ago and I assume the same for her, too. But the HD shop is a good idea.