Why Toyota’s SofTex® Is Better Than Real Leather

Whether you are car shopping or want to know how to clean your Toyota’s seats, it’s vital to look closer at SofTex®.

But what is SofTex in a Toyota? This synthetic leather upholstery is a popular choice among Toyota owners because of all its benefits.

If the debate is between SofTex and leather or SofTex and cloth, this guide illustrates which is ideal for depending on your lifestyle. This comprehensive Toyota SofTex overview shows the best and worst aspects of the synthetic material.

softex back seats top section

What Is It?

softex back seats wide angle

SofTex is a synthetic leather material that is used in Toyota vehicles. It’s meant as an alternative to leather. The material is designed from thermoplastic polyurethane, otherwise known as TPU.

Toyota offers SofTex because it cleans easily and is virtually maintenance-free. It also resists spills. Even though it’s not leather, it remains soft to the touch, but at half the weight.

With the construction, it generates about 85% less CO2 emissions. Considering this gas is the primary driver of climate change, it’s easy to see how SofTex is better for the environment.

It’s also rated at 99% less Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) than traditional synthetic leather, making it a healthier option. Furthermore, it doesn’t include animal-based materials.

softex back seats bottom

When properly maintained, SofTex lasts ten years or more. It costs more than cloth upholstery but less than leather. It provides thinner coverage than leather. Plus, it’s not going to get sticky when the weather is humid.

Toyota also includes temperature-responsive fabric inside the SofTex. This design ensures that the seating doesn’t get too hot or cold.

For passengers with allergies, SofTex provides a unique benefit. Pet hair and dander don’t accumulate as much as with cloth seats. Pets also get a nice grip on the fabric, so they aren’t slipping around while driving. However, the fabric is susceptible to damage from pets, such as bite marks and clawing.


SofTex vs. Leather

What’s better – Toyota SofTex vs. leather? Between the two, there are many pros to consider. They are both soft and can create a luxurious environment.

grey softex closeup

Still, SofTex is easier to clean, isn’t as susceptible to cracking or fading, and prevents stains. It also provides decent temperature regulation, ideal for those enjoying a daily commute. On top of that, SofTex comes in a wide variety of color options. When it comes to leather, there are minimal color choices available.

There are some genuine reasons why leather might be a better choice. If cared for correctly, leather can increase the value of the vehicle. If luxury is what it comes down to when evaluating the SofTex vs. leather, go with the latter option.

Is soft to the touchVery soft and luxurious
Easier to clean and protectMore cleaning and care required
Much less likely to crack and fadeSusceptible to cracks and fading over several years
Prevents most stainsSusceptible to stains if not cleaned immediately
Better temperature regulationCan feel very hot or cold depending on the weather
No influence on resale valueCan increase resale value if cared for properly
More color optionsLimited color options

SofTex vs. Cloth

What are the differences between Toyota SofTex vs. cloth seats? Cloth is known for being the least expensive way to upholster the seats. However, both options are going to regulate temperature to some degree.

While SofTex is going to be a more expensive option, it does provide a luxurious appearance. It offers a great way to enjoy some upscale style without spending too much. Plus, it’s soft to the touch and resists stains well.

Overall, SofTex lasts longer than cloth upholstery when taken care of. Even though it costs more upfront, the value often turns out better in the long run.

More expensive than clothCheaper than SofTex
More luxurious lookDoes not provide an impressive appearance
Soft to the touchMore rough feeling, but not uncomfortable
Less susceptible to stainsStains easily
Can feel hot/cold to the touch depending on the weatherRegulates temperature very well


softex back seats top section closeup

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s how highly the Toyota SofTex durability is spoken about. Not only is SofTex durable and made to last, but there’s minimal maintenance required to keep it in good shape.

An overwhelming amount of Toyota owners agree that the seats look brand new even after enjoying the vehicle for years. It’s even been a popular choice among busy families desiring an upscale interior without the wear that comes with using leather seats.

SofTex remains stain-resistant and won’t fade as easily, even when parked in direct sunlight. It’s also more difficult to tear the SofTex material because of how strong it is made.

softex seat closeup

Enjoying this level of durability is hassle-free because there’s no need to protect it as leather. There’s no reason to buy expensive conditioners or protectants with SofTex.

The only time that SofTex seems vulnerable is when pets are on the seats. It’s not extremely resistant to claws and pet teeth. However, it’s difficult to protect any interior from pets, no matter what option is chosen.

Common Problems

Even though users continue to rave about the upholstery, there are still Toyota SofTex problems worth mentioning. Because I feel it’s important to show both sides of the spectrum, my Toyota SofTex review covers the issues as well as the perks.

Among the top complaints, these are the statements heard most often.

  • Not as luxurious looking at leather
  • Doesn’t feel as luxurious as leather
  • In extreme weather, it gets hot or cold easily compared to cloth
  • Doesn’t breathe the same as cloth upholstery

This list of complaints shows that nothing major seems to occur with SofTex. While there are some minor complaints regarding comfort and look, the SofTex seats remain a crowd-pleaser.

It appears that customers who hope for extreme luxury aren’t fond of the downscaled version of leather. The only solution to this problem is to upgrade the rest of the way to a leather interior.

Reviews From Owners

To help you decide if SofTex seats are right for you, I’ve collected real data from SofTex owners.

Overwhelmingly, SofTex reviews are positive. Here’s what I found after polling 110 current Toyota owners:

  • 95% of Toyota owners enjoy the SofTex seating
  • 5% of Toyota owners didn’t like the SofTex material

With all of the positive feedback received regarding Toyota SofTex seats, these are a clear winner. The seats are designed to fit numerous needs and are sure to stand up under plenty of use.

Cleaning and Protecting

Knowing how to clean SofTex seats is the key to remaining happy with this interior.

When choosing a cleaning product, don’t pick an oil-based product. You can find our product recommendation below.

When cleaning SofTex seats, these are the basic steps to follow.

  1. Use a vacuum to clean debris and loose dirt. Get up the food, hair, and dirt that has built up.
  2. If any stains exist, pre-treat these areas first. Use warm water and a mild soap cleaner.
  3. Spray the seats down with a high-quality interior detailing spray.
  4. Scrub the seats with a microfiber cloth. Repeat steps 3 and 4 a few times, as needed.
  5. Wipe the seats dry with a clean microfiber cloth.

It’s really that simple. There’s no reason to spend more time cleaning your interior than necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, SofTex is just as good as leather in most ways. SofTex is more durable, less expensive, and easier to maintain than leather. However, it is not quite as luxurious as leather.

No, SofTex is not real leather. It is synthetic leather that was created by Toyota as an alternative to real leather. It has many benefits when compared to real leather.

SofTex material is a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) synthetic leather that is offered by Toyota as an alternative to authentic leather.

SofTex can easily last 10 years. Many Toyota owners state that their SofTex seats still look brand new after 3-5 years of use.

Toyota uses SofTex because synthetic leather is becoming increasingly common with automotive manufacturers. It offers many of the same benefits of real leather, but it is more affordable, durable, and easy to maintain.

SofTex is not prone to fading, unlike authentic leather. You can trust that your SofTex seats will hold their original color for many years to come.


With all of the SofTex advantages, it makes sense to consider this upholstery for your Toyota. Not only does it offer high-class style without the elevated price, but it also is made to last.

It’s my recommendation that you test drive a model with the SofTex before making up your mind. I’m convinced you will immediately see the benefits for your next ride.

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