Car News:  Oversteer

Remember When You Could Buy a Luxury Car With Cloth Seats?

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2001 Lexus ES Models
Used 2001 Lexus ES Models
$5,555
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2001 Lexus LX Models 4WD
Used 2001 Lexus LX Models
$4,500
RELATED READING
See all Lexus RX+300 articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Karma cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs MAZDA cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Andrew Ganz August 2019

Early limousines -- the kind where the chauffeur sat outside while those being chauffeured were protected by a relatively weathertight compartment -- ensconced passengers in soft cloth upholstery. Back then, drivers were forced to sit on leather, chosen because it would withstand sun, rain, snow, hail and whatever else Mother Nature threw at it.

Fast forward to the early 2000s and luxury cars could still be had with cloth-upholstered seats in the U.S. Now, you won't find a single mainstream new luxury car with cloth. Even Buick and Acura, which split the difference between mainstream Chevrolets and genuine high-end Mercedes-Benzes have largely done away with cloth upholstery. That wasn't true as recently as the early 2000s, when many luxury-brand cars came standard with cloth.


As late as 2005, Lexus charged $2,145 for leather seats and a sunroof on its RX 330 and $1,660 for genuine hides on its GS 300. Infiniti draped its FX35 and G35 in cloth, unless buyers ponied up around $3,000 for option packages with leather trim. Japanese consumers allegedly considered cloth upholstery to be more luxurious because it makes no noise when passengers slide in and out. The megabuck Toyota Century, a largely hand-built car designed primarily for Japanese royalty, even comes standard with a wool-based cloth upholstery today.

Japanese cars carried the cloth torch longer in the U.S. than did American and German brands, but even in 2005 every version of the Audi A4 came standard with cloth (with vinyl as a no-cost option) and regal Mercedes-Benz was still fitting base C-Class sedans and M-Class SUVs with cloth.

Cloth trim is having a resurgence, at least if you listen to Jaguar and Land Rover. Cloth seats come standard on the Jaguar E-Pace, a crossover from an automaker that once prided itself on its lush Connolly leather. On the tony Land Rover Range Rover Velar, a wool-based cloth that feels positively divine costs more than the standard leather. It's a $3,860 option that the automaker also markets as marginally more animal-friendly since, well, it's wool.

Even high-end brands have seen the light with cloth upholstery. Porsche dabbled in houndstooth trim for its 50th Anniversary 911 in 2014 and has since made mesh-style cloth with leather seat bolsters a $3,830 option on its latest 911.

Maybe it's time to say goodbye to leather, which really isn't a great choice for automotive upholstery anyway. Leather feels sumptuous when new and can age well, but only if it's well cared for with proper conditioning. Otherwise, it becomes hard, develops cracks and begins to fade. As the Lexus RX 300 above shows, cloth may very well get better with age.

Here's to hoping, at least.

MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
Video | The 1998 Lincoln Navigator Was the First Big Luxury SUV
Video | The 2003 Audi RS6 Is Amazing and Horribly Unreliable
Autotrader Find: 1994 Porsche 911 RS America With 5,200 Miles

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2001 Lexus ES Models
Used 2001 Lexus ES Models
$5,555
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2001 Lexus LX Models 4WD
Used 2001 Lexus LX Models
$4,500
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Remember When You Could Buy a Luxury Car With Cloth Seats? - Autotrader