Are vinyl seats more popular in BMW or Mercedes-Benz vehicles?

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We recently discussed the popularity of Mercedes-Benz’s vinyl seats, which they brand as MB-Tex. In fact, a majority (55%) of Cartelligent clients buying a Mercedes choose MB-Tex seats. Mercedes isn’t the only German luxury car manufacturer in the vinyl seat business, as rival BMW has also been offering them for many years.

A couple of years ago BMW rebranded their vinyl as SensaTec (they were previously called leatherette), and today they are standard equipment in most BMWs with starting prices under about $50,000. Most BMWs over $50,000 come standard with real leather seats.

As with MB-Tex, the primary benefit of SensaTec is that it is less expensive than leather and therefore translates to lower starting prices for the vehicles in which it is equipped. Other benefits include:

  • SensaTec wears better than leather
  • SensaTec requires less maintenance
  • SensaTec is easier to clean
  • SensaTec is not animal-based


So is SensaTec more popular than MB-Tex? It turns out that Cartelligent’s BMW buyers choose leather far more often: only 14% choose SensaTec. This difference is primarily explained by how each manufacturer packages the leather seat option. Mercedes-Benz makes leather seats a standalone option that adds about $1,500 to the price of the vehicle. BMW includes leather seats whenever the popular Premium Package is selected (you can also get leather seats without the Premium Package, however). The Premium Package usually combines a moonroof, satellite radio, keyless entry and adjustable lumbar support along with the leather seats. Because many BMW buyers want these additional features, they end up getting leather seats whether they specifically seek them out or not.

Below is a breakdown of some of our top selling models that come standard with SensaTec seats.

  • X1 – 22% of clients choose SensaTec. Starts at $30,900; leather adds $1,450.
  • 2 Series – 17% choose SensaTec. Starts at $32,100; leather adds $1,450.
  • 3 & 4 Series – 21% select SensaTec. Starts at $32,750; leather adds $1,450.
  • X3 – 19% go with SensaTec. Starts at $38,400; leather adds $1,450.
  • 5 Series – 4% choose SensaTec. Starts at $49,750; leather adds $1,450.
  • X5 – 0% opt for SensaTec. Starts at $52,800; leather adds $1,450.


Whether or not a BMW is the right car for you, Cartelligent can help you get a great deal on exactly what you want. Call our team of car-buying experts at 888.427.4270 or get started today.