Whether leather or leatherette is the best choice for new car upholstery depends mainly on the lifestyle of the car’s owner. Genuine leather requires a great deal more care than leatherette, which is easier to clean and maintain. Leather is a luxury material that is best suited for cars that are meticulously cared for and never used to transport pets or children.
One of the appeals of leather is its smell, which people associate with luxury. If this is the most important factor, then genuine leather upholstery may be the right choice. On the other hand, even professional car detailers advise that the leather smell will not last forever. While it can be partially revived by rehydrating the leather, that process will not restore the smell completely. Real leather upholstery needs to be cleaned at least four times a year. If not done that frequently, or properly, the leather will deteriorate.
Leatherette is less luxurious, but has many advantages. The biggest advantage is that it is much easier to clean spills off of leatherette, which is made of vinyl. To keep leatherette looking like leather, maintenance is still required. However, the difference is that it’s much easier to revive neglected leatherette than it is to revive leather. Modern leatherette looks and feels almost exactly like leather. It is easily the preferred choice for car owners with kids or pets.