The Cheapest New Cars with Leather Seats Have Surprisingly High-End Interiors

  • The 2022 Volkswagen GTI makes you spend almost $40k for leather seats
  • Leather isn’t always better than cloth
  • Hyundai has two affordable options for those that want leather in their life

Human society associates leather with luxury now. Way back when, it was simply a stronger, more durable material than cloth. Then, it become coveted for these properties, linking it with wealth. Obviously, we still see it that way, and many view having leather seats in new cars as a huge plus. If you’re in that camp, there’s plenty of cars like the 2022 Hyundai Sonata and 2022 Volkswagen GTI that’ll scratch that itch.

Are leather seats better?

The interior of the 2022 Volkswagen GTI with leather seats
The GTI has optional leather seats | Volkswagen

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We’ll start with the 2022 Volkswagen GTI. It’s far and away the most expensive car we’ll discuss, but for good reason. The GTI is a serious performance machine, FWD or not. And for a few extra dollars, you can have a few extra hides under your bottom. But are they better? Hell, are leather seats better full stop? Truth is, it depends on the seat. In the case of the GTI, we’d rather have the uber-cool “Clark Plaid” seats VW offers.

In general? It truly depends on the manufacturer, as well as what’s in the seat. I own a car with un-heated leather seats in a cold climate. In truth, it kind of sucks, because leather gets both colder and hotter than cloth. Oh, and they’re black. But if you’re smarter than me and drive, say, a new Toyota RAV4 instead of a sports car every day, you might have heated and cooled leather seats. In that case, cloth is for nerds (unless you care about the environment).

What new cars have leather seats?

The leather seats in a 2022 Hyundai Sonata
The Sonata is a cheap way into luxury seating | Hyundai

That brings us to our other two cars with leather seats. While the GTI with leather requires jumping up to the $37,995 2022 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn trim, the 2022 Hyundai Elantra won’t break your bank like that. If you want cow-flavored seats, you’ll be spending $24,100 for a Hyundai Elantra N line. Like the GTI, it’s a little sportier than the base car. The full-fat 2022 Hyundai Elantra N also has leather and Alcantara seating surfaces for $31,900.

Finally, that leaves us with the 2022 Hyundai Sonata. If you want leather seats in there, it’ll run you a starting price of $25,800. Just a few dollars more than the Elantra N line and the larger sedan means you’re technically getting a better deal. See, you’re paying fractionally more for a car that, based on the surface area of leather surfaces, has more for less. Sure, that was a reach, but we’re freaks here and we think about this kind of stuff.

A good car interior doesn’t have to break the bank

The 2022 Hyundai Elantra's interior
Not pictured: leather seats | Hyundai

However, it’s worth pointing out that cloth seats aren’t the mark of the Peons. They’re more breathable (most of the time), lighter, and often are easier to repair and maintain than leather. Plus you can get neat patterns like the GTI’s legendary plaid seats. No matter your preference, each of the cars here has cloth and leather options, and they’re all excellent buys.

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