What Is Ford's ActiveX Seating Material?

This durable artificial leather is available in many modern Ford vehicles.

2023 Ford Maverick Ford | Maverick

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Far more choices are available in today's vehicle cabins than the leather/cloth/vinyl trifecta of years past. Automakers have made numerous advances in creating synthetic materials mimicking the look and feel of traditional ones. New materials allow for entire interiors that bypass the use of animal products and these surfaces are often more durable than the upholstery used by older vehicles.

Ford has an innovative seating material called "ActiveX" replacing leather in a growing number of its models. Here's a look at what ActiveX brings to an interior.

What is ActiveX?

ActiveX is a fully synthetic material. It uses no animal or organic products in its manufacture, instead pressing recycled plastic bottles into duty. Synthetic material, similar to ActiveX, is often called "pleather" or "leatherette" to indicate that it looks and feels like traditional leather, but doesn't come from cow hides.

2020 Ford ExplorerFord | Explorer

Benefits of ActiveX

Some associate leather with animal cruelty and don't want it installed inside their automobiles. Then, there's the question of durability. Ford claims ActiveX is tougher than leather, but maintains the same feel and look. It also purports to more effectively resist temperature changes. If ActiveX can live up to that, it shouldn't burn legs in the summer or freeze them in the winter the same way natural leather does.

Finally, there's the question of maintenance. Regular leather requires special care and cleaning to keep it looking its best and to avoid cracking or tearing over time. Ford doesn't require a similar schedule for ActiveX, which can be cleaned with a standard leather cleaner when necessary. When stains occur, ActiveX holds up to a stronger type of cleaner and the material is more resistant to discoloration than regular leather.

Are there cons to ActiveX?

There aren't any specific downsides to Ford's ActiveX upholstery. When experienced alongside higher-end leather, there will be a difference in how the material feels and how it looks close up, but that's also true of more affordable leather materials in a vehicle's cabin. Still, for those expecting leather, ActiveX might not be the right choice.

Any synthetic material that looks like leather will absorb more heat in the summer and chill in the winter compared with cloth. ActiveX might be an improvement over leather in these areas, but it's not impervious to temperature.

ActiveX is not cheap and is not available as a standalone option. As an upgrade to the standard cloth seats on the 2023 Explorer XLT, for example, Ford requires the 202A package of options at over $3,500.

2023 Ford Maverick back seatFord | Maverick

Where can I find ActiveX?

Ford has been offering ActiveX for several years across much of its vehicle lineup. SUVs like the Edge, Escape, Explorer, Mach-E, and Expedition each make it available, as does the Ford Maverick pickup and the Ford Mustang. However, you'll have to pick and choose your trim levels to ensure you can order it, as it's generally restricted to one or two trim levels per model.

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Benjamin Hunting
Benjamin Hunting is a writer and podcast host who contributes to a number of newspapers, automotive magazines, and online publications. More than a decade into his career, he enjoys keeping the shiny side up during track days and always has one too many classic vehicle projects partially disassembled in his garage at any given time. Remember, if it's not leaking, it's probably empty.