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Discussion Starter #1
Hello I am new to the forum and trying to decide on purchasing a 2020 or wait till 2021. My questions pertain to the leather seats in both Limited and Touring trims.

1. Is the black leather in the Touring the same black leather used on the Limited Trim?

2. Is the saddle brown leather in the Touring the same "Nappa" saddle brown leather used in the Outback Touring?

I basically want to know if the leather seats are higher quality in the Touring? Is the black leather the same qualtiy on both? Is the saddle brown leather option on Touring better quality than the black leather? Sorry for going in circles here I just wanted to be clear and summarize my questions.

Thanks in advance!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
@Kean Thank you for the quick reply but my question deserves more of answer than a link to the manufacturer website. The website info can not provide the answer I am seeking.

And by going to the website I can clearly find the info on the colors associated with the trim level. This is not the question I asked above.
 

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The basic leather seats between the Limited and Touring are the same, yes. There is no real change.

If you do look at the various interior shots on the website (don't discount it right away) the seats look exactly the same.

I went in to the "BUILD and PRICE" tool and captured these shots. They're identical.

538352


The difference between the Touring and Limited is mostly related to the audio equipment and the rear automatic braking (RAB) that is standard on the Touring and optional on the Limited.

As for the Saddle Brown leather - two things -
  • Saddle Brown is ONLY available on the Touring, not on the Limited. So if you want Saddle Brown, you have to go Touring.
  • Nappa Leather - Nappa is almost like a brand name (remember Ricardo Montalban and the Chrysler Cordoba and the "fine corinthian leather"...? Nappa refers to the original process by ... can't remember his name ... but it refers to the process he used while he was working in Napa, California.
A few other things - Nappa leather (as a term, not as a product) is overused and (possibly) incorrectly used by a lot of companies to imply a certain softness to the leather and the "feel" of the texture or grain of the leather. Nappa leather USUALLY retains some of the natural grain of the hide of leather and usually feels softer to the touch.

Now the tricky part really comes from "where" the leather interior is sourced from. That requires a bit more convoluted details...

The Outback is assembled (made) in the Subaru of Indiana factory/plant. The Forester is made in Japan. The Outback (and Crosstrek and Impreza and Ascent) are assembled in the US but much of the contect comes from Japan. While the assembly of parts takes place in the US, many of the parts come from the Subaru factories in Japan.

It used to be (note, this is first hand knowledge but from about ... wow 25 years ago?)... It used to be that if you wanted a leather interior in your Subaru, it was a "port" installed option. Much of this was done at the Subaru Indiana location. The company that made those interiors is located in Southern California - I worked there as an office manager for a sales group. This same company also makes reproduction interiors for classic cars, VWs and more. Additionally, they produced leather interior sets that your dealer could order and install (or have installed) for just about any car on the lot.

So with the Outback vs Forester Saddle Brown - the only way to tell if it's the same or different would be to plop yourself in to one of each and feel the leather. Chances are it's the same leather hides just different patterns.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The basic leather seats between the Limited and Touring are the same, yes. There is no real change.

If you do look at the various interior shots on the website (don't discount it right away) the seats look exactly the same.

I went in to the "BUILD and PRICE" tool and captured these shots. They're identical.

View attachment 538352

The difference between the Touring and Limited is mostly related to the audio equipment and the rear automatic braking (RAB) that is standard on the Touring and optional on the Limited.

As for the Saddle Brown leather - two things -
  • Saddle Brown is ONLY available on the Touring, not on the Limited. So if you want Saddle Brown, you have to go Touring.
  • Nappa Leather - Nappa is almost like a brand name (remember Ricardo Montalban and the Chrysler Cordoba and the "fine corinthian leather"...? Nappa refers to the original process by ... can't remember his name ... but it refers to the process he used while he was working in Napa, California.
A few other things - Nappa leather (as a term, not as a product) is overused and (possibly) incorrectly used by a lot of companies to imply a certain softness to the leather and the "feel" of the texture or grain of the leather. Nappa leather USUALLY retains some of the natural grain of the hide of leather and usually feels softer to the touch.

Now the tricky part really comes from "where" the leather interior is sourced from. That requires a bit more convoluted details...

The Outback is assembled (made) in the Subaru of Indiana factory/plant. The Forester is made in Japan. The Outback (and Crosstrek and Impreza and Ascent) are assembled in the US but much of the contect comes from Japan. While the assembly of parts takes place in the US, many of the parts come from the Subaru factories in Japan.

It used to be (note, this is first hand knowledge but from about ... wow 25 years ago?)... It used to be that if you wanted a leather interior in your Subaru, it was a "port" installed option. Much of this was done at the Subaru Indiana location. The company that made those interiors is located in Southern California - I worked there as an office manager for a sales group. This same company also makes reproduction interiors for classic cars, VWs and more. Additionally, they produced leather interior sets that your dealer could order and install (or have installed) for just about any car on the lot.

So with the Outback vs Forester Saddle Brown - the only way to tell if it's the same or different would be to plop yourself in to one of each and feel the leather. Chances are it's the same leather hides just different patterns.
I did the exact same thing on the website as you. (I am not discrediting that part.) Compared pictures of the two black interiors in both trims. I ask this big question because on my wife's 2019 Crosstrek Limited the Black leather seats fell very stiff and unlike real leather to me. It also lacks that premium leather smell.

When I test drove the 2020 Outback Touring with the Nappa saddle brown leather seats it was a softer more premium material. It smelled of real leather and it was much softer than my wife's seats are in the Crosstrek. Another reason why I ask if the Black and the Saddle Brown are Nappa in the Forester Touring or are they the exact same leather used in the Limited trim.

We do agree that the Outback Touring uses a Premium leather or Nappa leather versus the leather used in the Limited correct? Does this also apply to the Forester seats?
 

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It's also important to understand that automotive leather is "seal" so the feel you get is the feel you get. You can't generally use various leather preparations made for saddlery and other unsealed leathers to improve the automotive leather. So sitting in both options at the dealer is a good idea to compare them. I suspect that the difference in feel is marginal. The leather in our MY20 Forester Limited is very comfortable (dove grey) but "feels" softer than the brown leather in my Ascent Touring.
 
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I think you're missing something... Nappa leather refers ONLY to the way that the leather is tanned. It can lead to a softer "feel" to the surface of the leather... But the term is often misused and not really true. Nappa is the process by which the leather is tanned, that's all.

When you're saying the seats were stiff in the Crosstrek, are you referring to the firmness of the seats or to the feel or "touch" of the leather surface? Was it stiff to your fingers touching the material or the way your body fit in or on the seat?

Another way to think about this is the difference between smooth leather vs pleated leather (think Cadillac or Lincoln or even Chrysler)... if a car was geared towards a more luxury target for softness, you'd often find pleated leather. Why? Because it doesn't have to rely upon the elasticity or stretchiness of the material to "give" and offer softness when seated on - because the pleating allows for that give. A smooth leather seat (no pleats) only relies upon the stretchiness of the leather (which is minimal) to have "give". That's why the seats in a Cadillac CTS would feel firmer than those in a Sedan De Ville.

Remember that the Crosstrek and the Outback and the Forester are all aimed towards different markets and - as such - the softness of the seat material (the cushion underneath the cover) will be different. As the Crosstrek is aimed more towards younger, adventurous types on a budget and the Outback is aimed more towards a more affluent person that wants some adventurous moments, but with more utility and room and - yes - comfort. The Forester is aimed more towards the older folks looking for a compact SUV with go-anywhere capability and safety and economy; people in the snow belt looking for a good quality vehicle (with some luxury touches) that can keep them going during the worst days of winter.

In a broad marketing plan, the Crosstrek shopper would elevate to an Outback, the Forester shopper would elevate to the Ascent. While this is not always 100% true, it's often how buyers will shop. Again, the Crosstrek is geared towards a younger crowd, probably single, into adventurous activities like camping and overlanding and hiking and such. The Outback skews older but similar interests.

As for the leather "smell" - given how chemicalized leather is in the processes of tanning and dyeing, much of the smell is due to the chemicals used and not necessarily a way to tell quality.
 

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......also, auto manufacturers use terms like "leather trimmed" seats, that means only portions of the seats are actual leather like the inserts, etc. The rest can be other various materials that look and perhaps even feel similar.

Without trying to sound patronizing, perhaps the best option is to just go check out the various seats at a dealer. ....especially since things like "feel", stiffness, etc. are going to mean different things to different people.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Without trying to sound patronizing, perhaps the best option is to just go check out the various seats at a dealer. ....especially since things like "feel", stiffness, etc. are going to mean different things to different people.
Sounds simple enough. The problem right now is there are 0 Foresters on dealer lots around me.
 

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I don't mean to be contrary here, but its a Subaru, not a Bentley (where the leather really is as soft as a baby's bottom). Does it really matter how soft the leather feels and how can your really compare? I don't believe there is a soft-o-meter tool so its up to you to make a decision.
 

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Well, like everything, there are variances and similarities to all of it.

Generally, the softer "feel" to leather is all due to the way that the hide is treated (tanned) and the types of dyes used on the leather. Some animal hides may be thicker than others, too. Some hides have more ... imperfections? .. to them and those may often be sanded off before the color is applied. Think about your own "hide" - do you have any bumps or imperfections - moles, ingrown hairs, scars, etc....? Those would be sanded off of your 'hide' before it was tanned and/or dyed.

Any animal that has a hide could (theoretically) be used to make leather. While cow hide is the norm, there is lambskin, goatskin, calfskin, ostrich, shark, elephant, and so many other types out there. There is also now "vegan" leather - which is supposedly very "chi-chi" and in right now with the popular people... Vegan leather is - of course - just another version of 'vinyl' (aka Leatherette over at VW and Mercedes) and can be made from chemicals or plant materials... It just sounds more high-class than vinyl .. or pvc (poly-vinyl-chloride).
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well, like everything, there are variances and similarities to all of it.

Generally, the softer "feel" to leather is all due to the way that the hide is treated (tanned) and the types of dyes used on the leather. Some animal hides may be thicker than others, too. Some hides have more ... imperfections? .. to them and those may often be sanded off before the color is applied. Think about your own "hide" - do you have any bumps or imperfections - moles, ingrown hairs, scars, etc....? Those would be sanded off of your 'hide' before it was tanned and/or dyed.

Any animal that has a hide could (theoretically) be used to make leather. While cow hide is the norm, there is lambskin, goatskin, calfskin, ostrich, shark, elephant, and so many other types out there. There is also now "vegan" leather - which is supposedly very "chi-chi" and in right now with the popular people... Vegan leather is - of course - just another version of 'vinyl' (aka Leatherette over at VW and Mercedes) and can be made from chemicals or plant materials... It just sounds more high-class than vinyl .. or pvc (poly-vinyl-chloride).
Are all the leathers used for Subaru interiors from the same type of animal?

I know Tesla uses Vegan leather for their seats.

So back to my original question. Is the leather used in the 2020 Subaru Outback Touring the same leather used in the Forester Touring? Both being the Saddle Brown color.
 

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Something else you can do if you don't or can't go check out the different leathers for yourself is send Subaru an email. I did a couple weeks ago about UV transmittance through the stock glass in the new 2020 Forester and got a response in a couple days.

I'd just make sure to keep the question(s) short and to the point to better your chances of a quick and clear answer.
 

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So when it says gray leather trimmed interior on the limited 2020 , not all the seat is leather ? What is leather and what is not? I have been searching the internet for pictures or a description of gray leather trimmed seats and can find nothing. And light that can be shed is a huge help. Thank you.
 

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Typically the inserts are leather while other parts like the bolsters are not. However, that really depends on each application.

If you really want to know (and no one else knows the answer for sure) you can email Subaru and ask. I know they do answer questions like this so you never know.
 
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Typically the inserts are leather while other parts like the bolsters are not. However, that really depends on each application.

If you really want to know (and no one else knows the answer for sure) you can email Subaru and ask. I know they do answer questions like this so you never know.
Okay thank you i appreciate it! I'll email the dealer to be sure.
 

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Well, I actually meant to email Subaru (SOA) directly. I did when I wanted to find out the UV transmittance percentage for the 2020 Forester. They gave me specific percentages for each window. .....but yeah, the dealer may know as well.
 

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Interesting, I will keep that in mind, seem like that is a great resource. Thank you
 

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Generally, all the "facings" of the seat - the parts your body touches - will be leather and the other parts (sides, backs, etc.) will be vinyl.

538813


Given this picture, I'd say that the lighter gray is the leather, the darker gray is the vinyl.

The previous generation SJ - the parts marked with orange would be leather, the green would be vinyl.

538814
 
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