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Which Cars Better to Lease or Buy

October 17, 2019

When it comes to leasing, depreciation cost will be the largest portion of your monthly payment. Depreciation is the difference between what the vehicle is worth at time of lease, and what it's worth at the end of your lease (called Residual Value). So it makes sense to lease a car with low depreciation cost, or put another way - high residual value.

Residual value is calculated as a percentage of MSRP. The higher the percentage, the lower your depreciation cost during a lease. For example, if a car has an MSRP of $30,000 and the leasing company has calculated a residual value of 50% after 36 months, that means the total depreciation cost will be $15,000 (that's if you purchase the car at MSRP, which you better not do if you're reading RealCarTips - any price you negotiate below MSRP will reduce your overall depreciation cost).

Below, you'll find a list of the vehicles with the highest 36-month residual values. These are the vehicles you will be paying the least when it comes to depreciation - and which may be better to lease than to purchase, especially if you plan to keep it for only 3 years and not drive more than 12,000 miles per year. The vehicle with the best residual value right now is the 2019 Toyota Tacoma SR5, with a residual value of 73% over 3 years. With an MSRP of $36,462, that means it will depreciate by only $8,455 over 3 years (if you were to pay full MSRP).

Keep in mind residual values are best-guess estimates, and sometimes leasing companies set them higher than what they actually expect the vehicle to be worth (as a hidden incentive so lease payments are lower). And sometimes, market conditions change during the lease, and the actual worth of the vehicle ends up being way lower than the residual "guesstimate". Since the residual value is set in stone, this is why these vehicles may be a better choice to lease than purchase, especially the ones with residuals over 60%.

However, not all vehicles with high residual values offer good lease deals (due to other factors such as interest rates and other fees). For these types of deals, it's better to purchase the vehicle rather than lease - check out the final column in the table below to see if it's better to lease or buy the vehicle.

As always, I recommend using TrueCar No Haggle and Edmunds Price Promise to see the lowest prices your local dealers are willing to offer on these leases.

Better to Lease or Buy

Rank Vehicle Trim MSRP Lease Payment ($0 Down) Residual Better To...
1 2019 Toyota Tacoma SR5 $36,462 $343 73.0% Lease
2 2019 Toyota 4Runner SR5 $38,394 $430 67.0% Lease
3 2020 Toyota Tundra SR5 $39,879 $480 66.0% Buy
4 2019 Toyota Mirai Mirai $59,430 $466 64.0% Lease
5 2020 Mini Clubman Cooper S $34,750 $393 64.0% Lease
6 2019 Nissan Frontier SV SWB $34,135 $402 63.0% Buy
7 2019 Toyota Highlander LE $36,154 $353 63.0% Lease
8 2020 Kia Telluride LX $32,785 $398 63.0% Buy
9 2019 Toyota RAV4 LE $28,354 $324 62.0% Lease
10 2019 BMW 3 Series 330i xDrive $47,395 $468 62.0% Lease
11 2020 Subaru Outback Base $27,655 $326 62.0% Buy
12 2019 Ford Ranger XL $25,495 $308 62.0% Buy
13 2019 BMW 5 Series 530e $56,345 $609 61.0% Lease
14 2019 Honda Civic Si $25,230 $289 61.0% Lease
15 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe SE $26,995 $291 61.0% Lease
16 2020 Acura MDX $45,395 $510 60.0% Lease
17 2019 Honda CR-V EX $28,445 $330 60.0% Lease
18 2019 Honda HR-V LX $21,715 $256 60.0% Buy
19 2019 Toyota Sequoia SR5 $54,255 $559 60.0% Lease
20 2019 Nissan Armada SV $49,415 $485 60.0% Lease
21 2020 BMW 4 Series 430i $47,595 $578 60.0% Buy
22 2020 Hyundai Kona SEL $22,995 $282 60.0% Buy
23 2019 Subaru Forester $25,270 $305 59.0% Buy
24 2019 BMW X2 sDrive28i $40,295 $428 59.0% Lease
25 2019 BMW X6 sDrive35i $66,245 $682 59.0% Lease
26 2019 BMW Z4 sDrive30i $52,695 $638 59.0% Buy
27 2019 Subaru Ascent $32,970 $403 59.0% Buy
28 2020 Toyota Corolla LE $21,129 $237 59.0% Lease
29 2019 BMW i8 $152,195 $1,211 59.0% Lease
30 2019 BMW X1 sDrive28i $38,995 $428 59.0% Lease
31 2020 Hyundai Veloster $19,530 $238 58.0% Buy
32 2019 BMW i3 $47,595 $408 58.0% Lease
33 2019 Honda Pilot EX-L $38,855 $412 58.0% Lease
34 2019 BMW X3 sDrive30i $43,045 $508 58.0% Buy
35 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe SE $26,845 $291 58.0% Lease
36 2020 Mercedes C-Class C 300 $43,895 $524 57.0% Buy
37 2020 Nissan Murano S $33,660 $361 57.0% Lease
38 2019 BMW M4 $72,795 $888 57.0% Buy
39 2019 Mercedes CLA 250 $35,895 $396 57.0% Lease
40 2019 BMW 4 Series 430i $47,945 $518 57.0% Lease
41 2019 Kia Forte LXS $20,115 $244 57.0% Buy
42 2019 Mercedes C-Class C 300 $43,995 $519 57.0% Buy
43 2019 BMW 7 Series 740i $86,345 $894 56.0% Lease
44 2019 Mercedes E-Class E 300 $54,495 $662 56.0% Buy
45 2019 Honda Accord LX $24,650 $284 56.0% Lease
46 2019 Mazda CX-9 Sport $33,325 $364 56.0% Lease
47 2019 Nissan Titan SV CC $48,140 $445 56.0% Lease
48 2019 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i $22,870 $284 56.0% Buy
49 2019 Honda Civic LX $22,380 $264 56.0% Buy
50 2019 Mazda CX-5 Sport $25,395 $287 56.0% Lease
51 2019 Acura MDX $47,295 $481 55.0% Lease
52 2019 Mercedes GLC 300 $42,945 $524 55.0% Buy
53 2020 Infiniti QX60 Pure $45,375 $481 55.0% Lease
54 2019 Acura ILX $26,895 $310 55.0% Lease
55 2019 BMW 8 Series M850i xDrive $113,795 $1,397 55.0% Buy
56 2019 Mercedes GLA 250 $36,745 $423 55.0% Lease
57 2019 Hyundai Tucson SE $24,445 $275 55.0% Lease
58 2020 Mazda Mazda3 $22,420 $263 54.0% Buy
59 2019 Lincoln Continental Standard $47,140 $526 54.0% Lease
60 2019 Hyundai Kona SEL $22,895 $273 54.0% Buy
61 2019 Subaru Outback 2.5i $27,320 $295 54.0% Lease
62 2019 BMW 6 Series 640i xDrive Gran Turismo $73,545 $797 54.0% Lease
63 2019 Toyota Corolla SE $23,639 $256 53.0% Lease
64 2020 Acura TLX $33,995 $374 53.0% Lease
65 2019 Mercedes GLS 450 4MATIC $74,975 $921 53.0% Buy
66 2019 Hyundai Veloster $19,430 $228 53.0% Buy
67 2019 Toyota Camry LE $25,804 $305 53.0% Buy
68 2019 BMW 2 Series 230i $38,895 $431 53.0% Lease
69 2019 Kia Optima LX $23,915 $283 53.0% Buy
70 2019 Infiniti QX50 Luxe $40,425 $469 53.0% Lease
71 2019 Nissan Murano S $32,850 $368 52.0% Lease
72 2019 Toyota C-HR LE $22,358 $266 52.0% Buy
73 2020 Hyundai Elantra SE $19,880 $212 52.0% Lease
74 2019 Ford Expedition XLT $53,525 $660 52.0% Buy
75 2019 Genesis G80 $43,045 $489 52.0% Lease
76 2019 Subaru Impreza 2.0i $19,480 $219 52.0% Lease
77 2019 Mercedes S-Class S 450 $97,245 $1,182 52.0% Buy
78 2019 Hyundai Sonata SE $23,580 $263 51.0% Lease
79 2019 Mazda CX-3 Sport $21,435 $257 51.0% Buy
80 2019 Lincoln MKZ Standard $36,990 $454 51.0% Buy
81 2019 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV $29,585 $324 50.0% Lease
82 2019 Subaru Legacy 2.5i $23,430 $282 50.0% Buy
83 2020 Genesis G70 2.0T Standard $36,445 $415 50.0% Lease
84 2019 Kia Sorento LX $28,695 $320 50.0% Lease
85 2019 Nissan Rogue Sport S $25,765 $319 50.0% Buy
86 2020 Ford Edge SE $32,195 $394 49.0% Buy
87 2019 Nissan Pathfinder S $34,700 $397 49.0% Lease
88 2019 Mazda Mazda3 $21,920 $243 49.0% Lease
89 2019 Kia Niro EV EX $39,545 $421 48.0% Lease
90 2019 Kia Stinger 2.0L $33,985 $373 48.0% Lease
91 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T Elite $40,895 $459 47.0% Lease
92 2019 Hyundai Elantra $19,130 $212 47.0% Lease
93 2019 Infiniti Q50 3.0t Luxe $39,325 $412 47.0% Lease
94 2019 Kia Cadenza Premium $34,095 $412 46.0% Buy
95 2019 Hyundai Elantra GT $21,380 $249 46.0% Lease
96 2019 Ford Flex SE $31,670 $358 46.0% Lease
97 2019 Infiniti Q60 3.0t Pure $41,775 $490 45.0% Buy
98 2019 Nissan Maxima S $35,520 $397 44.0% Lease
99 2019 Hyundai Ioniq $31,245 $175 44.0% Lease
100 2019 Genesis G90 $70,345 $755 42.0% Lease
101 2020 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium $35,995 $390 40.0% Lease
102 2019 Nissan LEAF S $30,885 $327 38.0% Lease
103 2019 Ford EcoSport S $21,090 $261 37.0% Buy
104 2019 Ford Fusion Energi Energi Titanium $35,590 $418 33.0% Buy
105 2020 Chevrolet Blazer Preferred $33,175 $411 % Buy
106 2020 Chevrolet Equinox LT $29,570 $292 % Lease
107 2020 Chevrolet Traverse LT $37,470 $419 % Lease
108 2019 Volkswagen Arteon 2.0T SE $37,645 $462 % Buy
109 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan S $24,295 $271 % Lease
110 2019 Smart EQ fortwo $24,650 $175 % Lease
111 2020 Lexus RXL D $59,100 $655 % Lease
112 2020 GMC Yukon SLE $52,770 $601 % Lease
113 2020 Jaguar F-Type 2.0L 296 HP $74,200 $653 % Lease
114 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque S $42,650 $504 % Buy
115 2020 Lexus LX 570 2-row $89,490 $1,012 % Lease
116 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC $36,015 $358 % Lease
117 2019 Cadillac XT5 Standard $43,565 $481 % Lease
118 2018 Smart fortwo $24,650 $165 % Lease
119 2019 Chevrolet Blazer 1LT $33,175 $382 % Lease
120 2019 Audi A4 2.0T Premium $38,395 $453 % Buy
121 2019 Chevrolet Equinox LT $28,075 $306 % Lease
122 2019 Audi A6 45 Premium $56,395 $649 % Lease
123 2019 Audi e-tron Premium Plus $75,795 $937 % Buy
124 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LD LT $46,475 $389 % Lease
125 2019 Audi Q5 2.0T Premium $43,945 $529 % Buy
126 2019 Chevrolet Traverse LT $36,275 $442 % Buy
127 2019 Chevrolet Volt LT $35,270 $360 % Lease
128 2019 Buick Enclave Preferred $42,070 $447 % Lease
129 2019 GMC Acadia SLE-1 $34,870 $341 % Lease
130 2019 Buick Envision Preferred $35,570 $368 % Lease
131 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali $57,170 $648 % Lease
132 2019 Cadillac CTS Standard $48,865 $530 % Lease
133 2019 Jeep Renegade Latitude $27,120 $333 % Buy
134 2019 Lexus ES 350 $41,040 $480 % Lease
135 2019 GMC Terrain SLE $30,170 $318 % Lease
136 2019 Lexus IS 350 F Sport $50,160 $518 % Lease
137 2019 Lexus LS 500 $79,768 $932 % Lease
138 2019 Lexus RC 300 $45,320 $518 % Lease
139 2019 Lexus RXL D $53,298 $548 % Lease
140 2019 Maserati Ghibli $76,475 $910 % Buy
141 2019 Jaguar F-Pace Premium 25t $47,250 $528 % Lease
142 2019 Jaguar XE 25t $39,495 $398 % Lease
143 2019 Jeep Compass Latitude $26,840 $243 % Lease
144 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT $47,485 $538 % Lease
145 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf SE $31,895 $316 % Lease
146 2019 Volvo S60 T5 Momentum $36,795 $387 % Lease
147 2019 Volvo XC90 T5 Momentum $50,090 $611 % Buy
148 2019 Ram 1500 BIG Horn $42,080 $355 % Lease
149 2020 Cadillac Xt6 Premium Luxury $54,565 $623 % Lease
150 2020 Lexus RX 350 $47,465 $538 % Lease
151 2020 Jeep Gladiator Sport $41,435 $401 % Lease
152 2020 Jeep Wrangler Sport $34,790 $336 % Lease
153 2020 Lexus NX 300 $38,185 $450 % Buy
154 2018 Maserati GranTurismo Sport $136,475 $1,401 % Lease
155 2019 Cadillac XT4 Premium Luxury $41,165 $495 % Buy
156 2018 Smart EQ fortwo $24,650 $165 % Lease
157 2019 Chevrolet Bolt LT $38,370 $401 % Lease
158 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom $39,095 $387 % Lease
159 2019 Audi Q7 2.0T Premium $54,545 $659 % Buy
160 2019 Chevrolet Trax LT $25,070 $297 % Buy
161 2019 Fiat 500e $34,705 $269 % Lease
162 2019 Buick Encore Preferred $27,970 $307 % Lease
163 2019 GMC Canyon SLE $32,870 $398 % Buy
164 2019 Cadillac CT6 Premium Luxury $64,465 $668 % Lease
165 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo $35,540 $425 % Buy
166 2019 Jeep Wrangler Sport $36,235 $396 % Lease
167 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC $37,175 $426 % Lease
168 2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport SE $37,990 $436 % Lease
169 2019 Lexus GS 350 F Sport $56,145 $635 % Lease
170 2019 Lexus GX 460 $56,920 $538 % Lease
171 2019 GMC Yukon SLE $51,770 $586 % Lease
172 2019 Lexus LX 570 2-row $89,340 $963 % Lease
173 2019 Lexus RX L 350 $49,735 $518 % Lease
174 2019 Lexus UX 200 $33,374 $403 % Buy
175 2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport $157,895 $1,906 % Buy
176 2019 Maserati Quattroporte S $109,675 $1,342 % Buy
177 2019 Jaguar E-Pace S P250 $41,200 $499 % Buy
178 2019 Jeep Cherokee Limited $36,190 $288 % Lease

My Recommendation for Car Shoppers

TrueCar and Edmunds are the quickest way to see the lowest car prices in your area. These sites show you no-haggle prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually really good. This should be the first step you take when negotiating your car price. Follow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.
- Gregg Fidan

Each week, I'll keep you up-to-date on the latest car deals and news that might affect your purchase. This includes...
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Gregg Fidan

About: Gregg Fidan


Gregg Fidan + is the founder of RealCarTips. After being ripped off on his first car purchase, he devoted several years to figuring out the best ways to avoid scams and negotiate the best car deals. He has written hundreds of articles on the subject of car buying and taught thousands of car shoppers how to get the best deals.

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