Leather vs Leatherette in a BMW

Car Tips | August 13th, 2007 by 25

How many of you were faced with this decision: leather vs leatherette in your BMW. I know I was, and it seems like everytime I …

How many of you were faced with this decision: leather vs leatherette in your BMW. I know I was, and it seems like everytime I purchase a new BMW, I am still asking myself if I’m making the right choice.

Before I will go ahead and present you the advantage or disadvantages of one over the other one, I have to tell you that each time I’ve chosen the leatherette and I will mention why later.

thumb leatherette1



  • cheaper
  • wears better
  • easier to clean and maintain
  • if leasing, you don’t have to worry about the resale value
  • perfect if you own pets


  • it doesn’t feel as good as leather
  • in the heat of summer, it feels somewhat rubbery and sticky
  • no resale value

thumb leather



  • adds resale value to the car
  • it “breathes” better
  • it softens over time
  • it gives a luxury look
  • some people like its smell
  • more color options


  • more expensive
  • wears out faster
  • harder and more expensive to maintain
  • not pet friendly
  • it feels colder in the winter

Each time I have decided to go with the leatherette for two reasons:

  1. I have always leased my cars for 2 years, so financially it made sense not to invest the money in leather, and rather get other options, such as BMW Assist
  2. It feels great to me, and people can’t tell the difference. In my opinion the leatherette in the BMW has a really high quality.

If there are any other advantages or disadvantages that I missed, please feel free to let me know and I will update the article.

25 responses to “Leather vs Leatherette in a BMW”

  1. CJ says:

    Is it possible to get leatherette on higher models i.e. 7 series?

  2. Augustrain2004@e60.net says:

    What is the real cost of maintaining the two. what products to you recommend to keep either options in good shape and looking well.
    How well to they keep by just keeping them maintained every 4 months with some product set.
    What are the most effective products to keep the L..ette or Leather in fine shape. This is people most concern when choose, Look and Keeping it Looking !!

  3. Megan says:

    Ethical reasons! I’m a vegetarian / animal welfare nut who happens to be in the market for a new X5 – in Australia they’re currently only available with leather and not leatherette. Don’t think that doesn’t mean I’m lobbying furiously to have the ‘ethical’ option made available to me – they’re made in the same factory as the US models that have leatherette as an option!! I’m at the point where I actually won’t buy the car unless I can get the leatherette…

  4. fsume93 says:

    Ethical huh? The survival of the human raced depended on animal sources for nourishment and sustenance over many thousands of years. How nice of you in this day and age to present yourself as superior to anyone who doesnt share you own minority point of view.

  5. Megan says:

    ‘In this day and age’, when there’s options that don’t involve the exploitation of animals, I choose those options. Where in my post do I suggest that I’m superior for wanting leatherette? Did the originator of the blog not ask for any other advantages and disadvantages of leather vs leatherette? I’m sorry you feel so angry and bloody-minded because I’ll go without for my ethics, where I imagine you just consume everything in sight without a second thought. Thank God the world is slowly waking up to the plight of its fellow creatures…no thanks to self absorbed ppl like yourself.

  6. Animal Devourer says:

    Torturing animals is wrong, but if killing and eating them is wrong, you should hate animals, because they do it too. Lions kill hyenas, baboons, wildebeast, pronghorn, etc.

    Lions are evil!!! They eat them while they’re still alive! Kill all lions, oh wait, I like animals, even though they do what I don’t like!? Oh it’s so confusing to be a hippie.

  7. Animal Devourer says:

    And if you’re a hippie, WHY WOULD YOU WANT AN X5!? A huge polluting waste of resources that NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY needs.

    Soccer mom pretending to be a vegetarian that cares, grow up.

  8. Stunned says:

    Animal Devourer, are you on drugs? ‘Lions evil?…kill all lions?’ I don’t know about the hippies but you are a confused, sad little person.

    I am no vegetarian but can respect someone who has the ability to stand by their beliefs and fail to see the relevance of your maniacal rantings. Why does ethics equate with ‘hippie’ anyway, or is that just a term for anyone who happens to not share your particular views.

    Another beautiful example ignorance and small mindedness disguised as opinion by bluster and aggression.

    Let us pray we don’t all ‘grow up’ to your level.

  9. GasGuzzlr says:

    Wow this is the most bizarre thread I’ve ever read. Firstly, let’s tackle the leather-vs-leatherette buying decision:
    1) Leatherette feels almost as good as most leather on the market, though BMW’s leather is superior in feel to its leatherette.
    2) Letherette does indeed wear better and last longer than leather, I’ve had it on a half dozen cars and never complained about it.
    3) Leather is softer and smells nicer, but tends to age poorly unless you nourish it with LExol or HideFood every once in a while.
    4) Leatherette is a problem for resale – many people walk away from a car with leatherette, particularly if you do leasetrader.com swaps like many of my friends.
    5) Unless you tell them, most people will assume leatherette is actually leather – this works particularly well if you order the wood trim :)

    Now, let’s talk about the ethics that Megan espouses.
    1) Animal welfare and vegetarianism are not intrinsically bad or good – they are personal choices, and Megan should be free to make whatever choices she likes. If she doesn’t believe in killing animals, then why does anyone else care? She’s not forcing YOU to become a non-leather-consuming, non-meat-eating citizen, she’s just saying it’s her preference. Leave her alone.
    2) Animal welfare and vegetarianism have nothing to do with hippies. Some people like animals. Some people like Cadillacs, too. No one is saying you need to buy into either. Leave her alone.
    3) Animal welfare and vegetarianism are COMPLETELY UNRELATED to greenhouse gas emissions, gas/oil consumption, or ENVIRONMENTAL friendliness. They are, again, an ETHICAL (and hence, personal) decision. You can, indeed, buy an SUV and still not eat meat or buy leather – the two are completely different choices, and one does not necesarily assume the other. If you think they do, you should probably take a logic class and understand the difference between correlation and causation. It could be argued that greenhouse emissions pollute the environment and hence deplete rainforests and cause problems for all living creatures, but that’s not the question, debate, or contention that Megan raises. All she’s saying is she likes animals and doesn’t want to eat them or sit on their hides. At the end of the day, that’s her choice and no one else has the right to complain about it. So leave her alone and stop being so bloody ignorant…you give the rest of the BMW buyers out there a bad name.

    In case you were wondering, I’m neither a vegetarian nor a non-leather consumer. My M roadster and 540 both have extended leather options, I enjoy a good steak, and I have a bunch of gas guzzlers. Do I love animals? Yup, got a dog or two somewhere around here. Do I feel much affection for cows? Not particularly, which is why I eat them and sit on their tanned hides. I’m neither a hippie nor a tree hugger, but I believe that Megan, and others like her, should be free to make their own choices – after all, she’s not pushing it on you. Best option? Leave her alone and do whatever the hell it is that you want for yourself.


  10. Divya says:

    Like Megan, I want the leatherette option for personal beliefs regarding animal treatment. I respect BMW for having the option available at such good quality too! However, I want all the other features of the premium package too! And I cannot get the premium package without leather!! I wish like carbon offsetting, there could be some sort of animal-pain offsetting!

  11. Sorg67 says:

    I am a meating SUV drive so I make not claims to saving the world. However, vegitarians do have a much smaller carbon foot print than meat eaters. Producing meat has an enormous carbon foot print due to the production of food required to feed livestock. Whereas vegitarians just eat vegitable products. Live stock also emit significant methane gas which is a greenhous gas. By becoming a vegitarian you reduce your carbon foot print by a similar margin to trading in a surburban for a prius.

    • JY says:

      not exactly right that vegetarians has less carbon footprint than meat eaters.so much so about carbon footprint..did you know that most of the vegetables supplied in the supermarket came from africa where it has to travel thousands of miles plus all the fertilizers and stuff thats being used and not to mention the wages being paid to this people?…or northern europe where they re are all grown in big green houses where the electicity runs for 24/7. you cant exactly say that.

      • Steve says:

        I doubt these claims but regardless, you assume that vegetarians eat lots of vegetables. The point of vegetarianism is avoid eating animals, not to replace them with vegetables, which would make no sense. (My protein intake is almost entirely from legumes — beans mostly, some peanut butter and tofu.) While I do frequently eat fruit, I don’t do a lot of vegetables; I like them but they are often expensive, inconvenient and without much protein. I do eat fruit, and I often say, “I get my vegetables from coffee [lots of antioxidants].” Don’t assume vegetarians are eating massive quantities of veggies.

  12. Juana says:

    Can any one comment on the durability of leatherette in very hot sun? I am concerned about both getting burned on hot seats or having the vinyl crack, something leather doesn’t do.

  13. Esah says:

    What an interesting discussion. Here we have many individuals trying to make 1 simple choice: LEATHER vs LEATHERETTE.

    Sure, preceding commentary discussed all intangible reasons….love of animals, concern for the environment etc….

    To me, the choice of leather v leatherette is pretty simple. COST. And that is “cost” in a purely economic term – not to be confused with environmental costs. Fact is, choosing REAL leather doesn’t necessarily mean negative consequences to the environment or the cows. Fact is, LEATHERETTE = NEOPRENE. Neoprene is a fancy word for a specialized plastic. Plastic being a product of the ULTIMATE carbon shoemaker —–> OIL.

    Sure, one may argue about the “recycling” efforts etc. Fact is, the high quality plastic for NEOPRENE is not sourced from recycled bottles and the like.

    So, at the end of the day, you have 2 choices. One seems like a no-brainer. However, it’s not as easy as shrugging it off as either 1) “PERSONAL CHOICE” or 2) “ETHICAL CHOICE”.

    I’m always wary when people hedge decision making on Ethics….I did enough Ethics in law school to realize that some decisions are simply arbitrary. Even though courts would like to make us think differently. Arbitrariness leads to hypocrisy and unfairness.

    “Personal Choice” is the ultimate arbitrary decision-maker. So arguments are neither won nor lost with “personal choice”. And MEGAN may not realize that her personal “choice” of Neoprene/Leatherette is more damaging to the environment (and in turn her “conscience”) than the slaughterhouse down the street. Logic has no relation here – because most of the decision makers who rely on logic never took a basic science class to even understand the Scientific Method. Which is the ultimate father of logic.

    Conclusion – After enduring comment upon useless comment on this discussion, just decide on LEATHERETTE if your cost conscious and want long-term value in durability. Or LEATHER if you are not concerned about those matters.

    But please don’t cloud matters with tangential discussions on Logic or Humanity or Social-Consciousness. You’re just a hypocrite if you do.

    ESAH – NYC

    • ///M-Power says:

      Wow well said! I came here to see what kind of opinions people actually have on leather vs leatherette and then this non sense started. Why do people feel the need to bitch and whine on forums about subjects totally off topic. Anyways, reading about the pros and cons I feel I might have to choose leatherette. Seems like best way to go for the initial cost saver as well as down the road (up keep, wear and tear, etc.) considering I will finance and plan to keep the car long term. I’m also planing on going to the dealer to see if they have models with both so I can make a comparison in person before ordering online.

  14. Klfol208 says:

    I just ordered an X5 with leathorette.  Im buying the car.  Looks like I made the right choice.  I just hope the car still has that “BMW” smell…

  15. Lucky says:

    You’re spending 50 grand on a car and being stingy about the seat coverings! Go with the real stuff you cheap bastards.

  16. Stacia Petri says:

    bravo! and its CRUELTY FREE TOO…..no cows suffer and die so your asses can be less sweaty

  17. Debbie Calvello says:

    non-leather is best, who wants to sit on dead animal skin anyway?

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