Does Subaru Use Real Leather? The Secret You Need to Know

A common question asked by Subaru owners is, does Subaru use real leather? Until now, Subaru didn’t admit anything, which is why Subaru car owners are still confused.

In reality, the Subaru car areas that get touched directly by your skin are covered with real leather. The other areas have vinyl leather called StarTex. This material type is long-lasting and durable compared to leather.

Both real and faux leather have their own sets of benefits and drawbacks. I will dive deep into Subaru’s use of real leather in their seats and other areas.

Does Subaru Use Real Leather?

Earlier, Subaru used real leather in their upholstery. The world is leaning toward an eco-friendly interior option, letting Subaru switch to vinyl leather and other automotive makers.

There are some areas where your skin touches the seats; these areas are covered with real leather. The rest areas have high-grade vinyl leather.

Don’t panic after inspecting your Subaru cars and finding that faux leather is there. In reality, this is a trend all other automotive makers are following. The good news is that this material is high-quality, providing the same performance as leather.

Does Subaru Use Real Leather

What type of Leather Does Subaru Use?

Subaru developed a water-repellent and durable upholstery in StarTex. This material is comfortable and provides excellent breathability to the people sitting on them.

StarTex materials come with the below exclusive features and benefits,

  • StarTex is a polyurethane material preventing moisture from soaking into the seats
  • This material is incredibly durable than leather, cloth
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Entirely animal-free
  • Soft to touch
  • Water-resistant

However, a few Subaru models still use a real leather interior. I listed them in the next section, and if you are fond of leather upholstery, choose from those models.

When did Subaru Stop Using Real Leather?

Subaru’s older models used real leather on their seating surfaces.

But from 2007 – 2013, they started blending real and faux leather on the seats and upholstery. The actual evidence is unavailable, and this time frame is according to the Subaru car owner’s analysis. This happens because of the environmental change of using real leather.

However, most people think that faux leather is bad. In reality, Subaru’s faux leather is pretty similar to real leather’s performance. Even, they are better in some cases when used on covering Subaru cars.

What does Subaru Use on their Upholstery?

By now, you already got that; Subaru doesn’t cover their car’s upholstery using real leather. So, the next question is, what do they use? As stated previously, real leather is blended with the vinyl and used in Subaru car’s upholstery.

Generally, they use a leather trim. It means you will only find real leather on the surface and seat back. While fake and vinyl leather is used to cover other sections.

Subaru uses high-quality vinyl-type leather named StarTex. The best feature of this fabric is that it withstands extreme movement, friction, and regular wear and tear quite effectively. It is a chemically treated non-leather type of upholstery, often providing more high-performance than leather.

This material is made of recycled plastic bolts, making it long-lasting and water-resistant. It contributes to making the environment green.

Regular coverings and upholstery are less durable than this StarTex. It promotes breathability by preventing moisture from the seats. It resists rough treatments, and regular washing can’t damage the surface. You will never raise questions about Subaru leather seat quality.

Why does Subaru Use Faux Leather?

Everyone believes that leather is the best material of all. But, like other materials, it also possesses a few drawbacks.

Someone who cares about animal rights shouldn’t be using real leather products. Moreover, leather has a few cons. For example, real leather creases easily when exposed to severe movements.

Undoubtedly, a lot of movements are common in car seats. Happily, you will barely find crease marks on Subaru seats because they use faux leather.

Though leather is a natural product but offers errors, and in terms of the problems mentioned above, neither Subaru nor you can do anything to stop it.

Automotive manufacturers always prefer real leather to use in their cars. But Subaru supports animal rights and uses high-quality faux leather instead of real leather.

Subaru faux leather looks similar to real leather. However, they don’t smell like the real ones. The upholstery made of faux leather is durable. At the same time, this leather offers long-lasting services without crease marks. On the other hand, luxury is the prime reason for using real leather.

For a potential Subaru buyer, prepare yourself for the following options: you take either real half leather or half faux.

Is Subaru StarTex Batter than Leather?

Whether Subaru StarTex is better than leather can be determined by the following StarTex vs. leather discussions.


StarTex is made from synthetic plastic, which is basically polyurethane.  More interestingly, 25% recycled polyethylene terephthalate is used in the back of the material, making it much more durable. Also, it withstands wear and tear, crease marks, etc., quite efficiently.

Real leather is made of animal leather. As a result, it is highly durable. In fact, real leather durability is unbeatable. Sadly, the crease mark appears in real leather easily. Since car seats get exposed to extreme movements, leather seats receive crease marks and leave a poor look on the interior.


Customers who are vegetarians and prefer eco-friendliness over everything will feel comfier sitting on non-leather seats.

Keeping this point in mind, Subaru approaches making their own upholstery named StarTex. This material doesn’t use any real leather. On the other hand, cars that have leather seats require 15 – 18 cow hides to make their interior.

However, you can’t say that Subaru StarTex is better than leather. The reality is that StarTex can be a good alternative to leather.

Subaru Leather Seats Review

Which Subaru Models have Leather Seats?

Subaru is one of the premium car brands in the world. Their cars are luxuriously designed both outside and inside. The used leather tells about luxury; all Subaru car models don’t come with leather seats. You will see real leather seats in the models below.

BRZ: Standard leather upholstery gives this model an exceptional look that many people love this sporty Subaru car.

Forester: Forester models were never designed with a real leather interior. However, these car models are slowly entering the trend of using real leather. The newest Forester car models find limited edition leather trim and saddle-down leather seats.

The WRX: Leather seats and a limited trim are one of the unique features of the WRX.

Ascent: It comes with 3 rows featuring leather seats.

Crosstrek & Crosstrek Hybrid: The Crosstrek is available in 3 leather trims, with the hybrid offering upholstery of leather mixed with blue stitching.

Outback: From its inception, Outback features leather seats. Currently, 7 trim variants are available in the Outback. Among them, 3 variants offer seats that are leather-trimmed.

Legacy Touring XT: Excellent Nappa leather seats are the biggest feature of the sporty Legacy Touring XT.

You can buy a Subaru car with full or half-covered leather seats. The decision entirely depends on you which one to buy. In addition, installing aftermarket leather seats is another possibility.

Why are Cars Going Leather-free?

Most car manufacturers across the globe are now entering into sustainable and cruelty-free technology. The modern car’s interior is mostly designed, keeping leather-free material in mind. Leather-free cars are considered future cars.

The idea of a leather-free based interior is nothing new. But the main challenge is to use a high-quality material that can be manufactured in large volumes, giving a feel like leather and offering durability.

Subaru is one of the leaders in making cars with a leather-free interior. They released several car models using leather-free materials. Subaru has animal-free leather named StarTex.

Other manufacturers, including Ferrari, Toyota, Land Rover, Mercedes, Volvo, Fiat, Suzuki, etc., have their own leather-free interior designs. For example, Ferrari uses a vegan leather called Mycro Prestige. Also, Toyota uses a material called Softex.

Are Subaru Leather Seats Synthetic?

One question might have popped up in your mind, as Subaru uses faux leather in their car seats, are all Subaru leather seats synthetic? The straightforward answer is NO.

Subaru actually uses a blend of leather and polyurethane. The material is called StarTex. Real leather is used on certain areas of Subaru cars. The rest portions are covered using StarTex.

What Car Brands Use Synthetic Leather?

Only 25% of automotive manufacturers use real leather in their cars. Subaru and other car brands use leather on the back and middle of the seat.

Here is a list of car brands that use synthetic leather,

  • Porsche Cayman
  • Polestar 2
  • Tesla Model 3
  • Nissan Leaf
  • BMW i3
  • Jaguar I-Pace S Trim
  • Renault Twizy
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Toyota Prius
  • Mercedes A-class
  • Volkswagen Golf S
  • Range Rover Valer
  • Fiat 500
  • Suzuki S-Cross

Frequently Asked Questions

Conclusion – Is Fake Leather Worth the Quality?

Hopefully, all your confusion regarding “does Subaru use real leather” is eliminated. Many assume that leather is the best material to use in the car interior. But after Subaru’s invention of StarTex material, this thought has now changed.

StarTex is a high-grade material that gives a similar feel to leather. This is also durable, comfortable and breathable. For this reason, Subaru started using StarTex in most car models for its extreme benefits.

Initially, you may get disappointed, but the performance of StarTex material will surely put a smile on the customer’s face. StarTex gives the same luxury feel as cars with leather interiors provide.

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