Does Subaru Use Real Leather? Things You Need To Know

In the past, Subaru only used real leather on their upholstery. However, due to the worldwide environmentally friendly push, they alongside other auto manufacturers switched to vinyl leather.

Subaru only uses real leather on seating areas where your skin might touch. The rest of the upholstery is covered with high-grade vinyl.

If you have recently inspected your Subaru and noticed that some of the leather covering seems fake, then you don’t have to panic.

This is a trend that most auto manufacturers are following. And even though Subaru may not admit it, this is the ugly truth that car owners have to endure going forward.

Both real and fake leather have their pros and cons when used as car seat coverings. I will explain this later. However, at the moment let’s dive deeper into Subaru’s use of real leather.

does subaru use real leather

Which Subaru Models have Leather Seats?

Subaru is a premium car brand. They are known for manufacturing high-performance vehicles that are well designed both inside and outside.

The use of leather on car seats is a form of luxury. And due to competition, Subaru also has to incorporate it in some of their cars.

As you may already, it’s not all models that come with leather seats. There are only a few that come with leather seats. They include;

  • WRX – The STI comes with a limited trim and leather seats.



  • Ascent – This three-row model from Subaru features leather seating as well.


  • Outback – Since back in the day, the outback has always featured leather seats. At the moment, the Outback has seven trim variants, with three of them offering leather-trimmed seats.


  • Forester – Even though the Forester never really featured leather upholstery, it’s gradually catching up with the trend. Due to its high demand, Subaru Foresters now come with leather trim and the limited edition boasting of saddle brown leather seats.


  • Crosstrek and the Crosstrek Hybrid – The Crosstrek has three trims of leather with its hybrid offering leather upholstery blended with blue stitching.


  • Finally, we have the sporty Legacy Touring XT that has impressive Nappa leather seating.

Depending on your preference, you can have your seats covered in full or half leather. It is also possible to get an after-market leather seat installation.

The choice is entirely yours especially when you consider the fact that Subaru does not use real leather in their upholstery.

So, What Does Subaru Use on their Upholstery?

Now that we know Subaru does not use real leather on their upholstery, it begs the question, what do they really use? As mentioned earlier, Subaru blends real leather with vinyl.

They usually use a leather trim which means that leather is used on the seat back and surface only. All other sections are covered with vinyl or fake leather.

In the case of Subaru, they use StarTex which is a high-quality type of vinyl that can withstand lots of friction and movement without tearing easily.

This urethane material is a high-performance non-leather type of upholstery. It’s chemically produced and way better than leather.

Subaru Star-Tex is long-lasting and water-resistant. It’s free of chlorine, phthalate, and polyvinyl chloride. It’s made from recycled plastic bottles and goes a long way into contributing to making the environment better.

This form of Star-Tex is more durable than regular upholstery covering and leather. It prevents moisture from soaking into seats while promoting the breathability of the seat.

It can withstand rough treatments and won’t wear easily even when washed regularly.

Why Does Subaru Use Faux Leather?

We have been programmed to think that leather is perfect. However, similar to other materials, leather does have some of its drawbacks.

For one, if you care about animal rights then you shouldn’t be using leather products. Also, the leather itself does have faults, for instance, it creases easily when exposed to lots of movements.

Car seats experience plenty of movement, and that’s why you may not creasing on your Subaru leather seats.

Leather despite being a natural product, is prone to vulnerabilities such as the ones mentioned above. And neither you nor Subaru can do anything about it.

The auto market will always lean more towards real leather. And because Subaru does not want to let down their clients, they use more faux leather instead of real leather.

Faux leather looks and feels like real leather, the only difference is that it doesn’t smell like leather.

Even though leather is a natural product, it does have its vulnerabilities such as the ones mentioned above.

And there is nothing neither you nor Subaru can do about it. It is because of these drawbacks that Subaru uses both fake and real leather.

The faux leather is used to make the upholstery last longer. Whereas real leather is used for luxury purposes.

As an individual considering buying a car from Subaru, you must be prepared for either of the following options. You either take the half faux and half real leather.

Or, choose the ordinary fabric instead of leather. As you make your decision, ensure you go with what suits your taste and preferences.

When Did Subaru Stop Using Real Leather?

If you look at the older models from Subaru, you will realize that they only used real leather on their seating surfaces.

However, from around 2007 to 2013, Subaru started blending faux with real leather. There is no actual evidence of this, rather this is all based on analysis done by Subaru car owners.

Most people associate Subaru’s switch from faux to real leather when there increased need for environmental changes.

And contrary to what most people think, faux leather isn’t all that bad. Below I am going to highlight why fake leather may be better than real leather when used on Subaru’s seat coverings.

Is Subaru’s Faker Leather Better than Real Leather?

Environmentally friendly cars are popular now more than ever. A lot of car enthusiasts are opting to buy cars with seat coverings made of leather trim instead of actual cowhides.

It’s not just because of the need to push for animal welfare but, fake leather does come with more benefits.

Even though Subaru hasn’t fully been upfront about the type of material they use on their seat covers, BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes have.

Customers that are conscious of environmentally friendly cars and vegans are more comfortable seating on non-leather seats.

Unlike Rolls Royce that boasts of using leather from 15 to 18 cows in every single car, Subaru has taken another approach which is creating their own upholstery material – Star-Tex.

The latter is stronger than leather, made from recycled plastic bottles, and doesn’t crease easily. Even though fake leather is a product of petrochemicals that isn’t great for the environment, it can’t be compared to what the damaged leather does to the environment.

Is Subaru the Only Company that Doesn’t Use Real Leather?

In today’s auto world, only 25% of a seat is required to be real leather for it to be called real leather. Most car brands and not just Subaru, use leather on the middle and back of the seat.

The surrounding areas are covered with faux leather. The reason behind this new trend is because leather is a bit more expensive, plus it creases easily and requires lots of maintenance.

The modern-day driver doesn’t have time to condition his/her leather seats every day. And that’s why car brands are opting to use faux leather which requires minimal care and it lasts longer than actual leather.

Are All Subaru Leather Seats Synthetic?

Now that you are aware of how car brands mix faux and real leather in their seat coverings, does that mean that all Subaru leather seats are synthetic? Of course not.

Subaru usually uses a bit of both types of leather. As part of its environmentally friendly push, Subaru uses real leather on certain areas and the rest are stuffed with faux leather.

Is Subaru Leather Vegan?

Recently, Subaru did release some models that feature vegan and water-repellent interiors. The likes of these include the 2020 Subaru outback, which boasts of a vegan seating option that is stronger than leather.

According to Subaru, we can expect more of their newer models to incorporate this advanced seating design and technology.

What are Some of the Problems with Subaru’s Fake Leather?

We are all entitled to different opinions and preferences. Some prefer regular fabric and others can’t do without leather seats.

Subaru’s fake leather has both advantages and disadvantages. For one, fake leather isn’t as luxurious as real leather. It does give the car a cheap look.

Also, when you touch or when your skin gets in contact with fake leather, the feeling won’t be the same.

What Should Subaru Do about This?

As we wrap up this guide, I think Subaru is better off being upfront about the type of material they use on their car seats. If it is real or fake leather, let them be clear about it.

Most customers feel disappointed when they discover that their car seats are leather trim and not pure leather. It would also be best if they could offer all options so that clients can choose.