February 10, 2006

Babies And The Leather Seat Package

highlander_ivory_leather.jpg

A question from DT regular Kaz, who loves the environment almost as much as he loves eating beef and wearing leather shoes:

I am close to pulling the trigger on buying that Highlander Hybrid Ive wanted, but I have some concerns about the leather seats, namely:

Do I need to put anything under the carseat to (a) protect from various child related stains and (b) protect from grooves or wear from rubbing, and if so, what do people recommend?

Secondly, am I asking for more problems getting the tan leather versus a darker leather, in terms of child related stains? And finally, am I am just crazy to get leather (not that the model I want comes without it it also comes with faux-wood trim, which I am, not crazy about, either) with a young (18 mos) child?

I don't know if credit should go the Mercedes engineers who made it or the marketing geniuses who convinced otherwise snobby Americans to buy vinyl by calling it MB Tex, but we have had no problems with stains or scratching. But the grandmas like to accessorize the car seat with tasteful wool throws underneath the carseat to prevent scratches to their charcoal leather, though.

Thoughts?

What about your kid's college?! Oh wait, I forgot; people don't freak out over cars. Highlander Hybrid Limited package: six Bugaboos [buyatoyota.com]

15 Comments

You don't actually think you will keep the car clean in a year or three, do you? Maybe a tarp or something, but all the milk and crackers and fruit and whatnot that fall from a toddler will destroy any delusions of perfection, not that I ever had any such delusions. Go with what cleans easily.

[so, the leather, not the fabric, right? Because doesn't the puke just bounce right off the leather? -ed.]

Hey, now. Just for the record, I am a vegetarian, and I do feel I show an above average concern for the environment. Trust me, I would rather not have the leather, but it isn't an option with everything else I want and am willing to sell my soul for ;)

And no, I don't really expect it to be clean in 2 to 3 years, but I'd like it to stay clean for a couple weeks at least! Or maybe I just trying to figure out what my expectations SHOULD be...

[oops. I was just jumping to conclusions about your politics and personality based on cursory information about your contemplated purchases. My bad. -ed.]

Ok, leather rocks for a family car. Why? Barf, crumbs, etc wipe right off. I wouldn't know about how badly it stains, my family seems to have a penchant for black leather interiors in Volvos.

As for what to put under it to protect it, don't worry. Leather is bouncy. Even with a tightly installed seat put in there for 3 years, it only took a week for the dents to pop out and look like a normal back seat again. It isn't recommended to put anything between the carseat and the car's seat because it can screw with installation.

One thing you can do, if you find the leather is too slippery to hold a car seat is add a layer of rubber shelf liner between the seats. It helps grip the car seat a bot better, but is still flexible and thin enough that it will not adversely affect installation. It would also help with any scratching problems.

Match the leather to your dog's fur, that's what I say. Match every belonging to your dog's fur.

I have black leather in the wagon and I latch the britax wizard in there tight as hell. It would move less if it was welded to the car.

On the occasions when I remove it, I haven't noticed any lasting impressions in the leather. That said, I also use a seat protector thing that I bought from amazon for about $20. It's just a thin-ish rubberized mat that goes between the carseat and the car. I think it helps.

I know that some people say that those mats somehow interfere with proper carseat safety, but I have my carseat installation checked at the fire station every year and every time they say mine is perfectly installed. Those are the same people who say "don't let your kid play with the bears." Whackos, every one.

We chose leather on our cars because of the dog. Beyond the better stain-resistant qualities of leather, we noticed that fabric tends to absorb and retain dirty wet dog smells. Now that we have the kid (13 mos), the same principle applies to her. Go with the leather - your car may be milk and juice-stained and strewn with goldfish, but at least it won't stink.

[now why don't we see any car commercials with THAT slogan? -ed.]

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recently pressured Mercedes-Benz into offering a leather alternative. Soon, you'll be able to special order a cloth interior in your new Benz.

personally i am very environmentally conscious and enjoy a good vegetarian or vegan meal often, but in most cases i feel that people go out of their way unnecessarily to meet what they feel is a status-quo. leather seats does not mean you are cruel to animals, especially if you find cloth materials to be irritating to your skin or otherwise uncomfortable.

after owning several cloth interior vehicles i have decided to make the switch to leather in my next purchase. thanks for the rubber shelf liner suggestion, that sounds like a great idea.

Now, if they offered a PLEATHER seats, I'd feel better...

Yes by all means go with the leather. We have light gray leather and even after 7 years of hard use the leather looks great. Now, If I could only say that about the carpet. We did not use anything underneath the carseats except for a cheap white towel the first year to level the rear facing seats.

The same goes for our home.The leather furniture looks great. The carpets (alas, not hardwoods) take a beating daily.

Leather all the way here as well. Another option is to have something like Magiseal on the fabric seats. Actually I had the leather car seats as well as the fabric baby seat Magisealed sealed and the biggest challenge is catching the liquids since they float and run all over. About $100 per car. Pretty neat stuff.

I got leather seats. I like leather (it also was the only seating fabric available for my car...Toyota Sequoia Limited 4wd). The leather seats are nice because the food and stuff wipes off pretty easily without staining. If I had cloth seats, the juice, barf, spit up, etc. would get all into the seats and would be much more difficult to get out.

Dan.

P.S. Meat is Murder but it sure does taste good...

The policeman who installed the baby seat in my Jaguar used that rubbery shelf liner that you can get at pretty much any discount store. It comes in a roll for like $5.00, and you can get it in a color that matches your interior. Its sticky, so the seat doesn't move on it, and its bouncy enough to prevent any damage from scraping, etc to your seats. Many of those japanese cars have, sadly, very poor leather in them. They use a thin cut of leather with what is essentially a rubbery backing that can be scraped fairly easily. (Most of your european cars have a much higher grade of nappa or connolly leather, which is thicker and more resilient.)
This is why you'll often see used lexuses, infinitis, or Nissan 300Zs with the driver's seat side bolster worn through and stuffing sticking out, but where the same year/mileage mercedes would likely show a minimum of wear.

Now if only they'd get some hybrids to market.

Escape Hybrid is a great option when comparing Hybrid SUVs!

Leather is the deal.

Look at Mercury Mariner Hybrid for a more stylish approach...

oh yeah, i use a seat protector on my seat to protect the leather from the car seat. without the protector, the leather did scrape off a little bit. the toyota leather is nothing like the mercedes leather (mercedes doesn't just scrape off).

I guess that means I can feel good about the Toyota leather, assuring myself that they just remove a layer of the cow, without having to kill the entire cow (or horse, or dog, or cat, wherever they get their leather from).

[is there a whale leather option package available? -ed.]

I'd like a good car without leather upholstery. In 2000 we bought a WRX hatch. Every so often we hose it out, but it is rarely clean. The seats handle babies and neglect no worries. It's a great vehicle.

Now,165,000 km later, the synthetic seats and pretty much the rest of the car are still just about new, but our little boy is a teenager, the baby is in school and we have another 2 year old dominating the back seat. We need a bigger car.

As soon as I look for similar build and performance, though, I find only leather upholstery. What is this fixation with "luxury"? Do we have to ponce around in by-products of the meat industry, imagining we look good? In a practical sense, leather doen't equal perfomance or even comfort. F1 drivers don't have leather upholstery, the queen doesn't sleep in leather sheets. Are we being conned?

Anyway, I need to find a slightly larger vehicle than the WRX with similar build and performance qualities but without leather seats. In Australia. Any ideas?

[now, I've heard different about the queen, but nothing about non-leather cars. Except that Mercedes offers a non-leather package for treehuggers and vegans, and I wonder why a dealer couldn't special order one for you the way they do with 'off the menu' type options like pedals for short people, etc. -ed.]

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