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Which Cars Better to Lease or Buy

February 20, 2020

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 2020 Toyota Tacoma SR5, with a residual value of 74% over 3 years. With an MSRP of $37,482, that means it will depreciate by only about $8,500 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 if you're planning to keep it short-term.

As always, I recommend using TrueCar No Haggle and RydeShopper 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 2020 Toyota Tacoma SR5 $37,482 $373 74.0% Lease
2 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road $38,108 $363 71.0% Lease
3 2020 Toyota 4Runner SR5 $40,369 $468 66.0% Lease
4 2020 Toyota Highlander L $36,038 $431 65.0% Buy
5 2020 Toyota RAV4 LE $28,729 $324 65.0% Lease
6 2019 Nissan Frontier SV SWB $34,385 $401 64.0% Lease
7 2019 Toyota 4Runner SR5 $38,394 $392 64.0% Lease
8 2020 Honda Civic Si $26,155 $299 64.0% Lease
9 2020 Honda HR-V LX $21,940 $266 63.0% Buy
10 2020 Kia Telluride LX $32,785 $391 62.0% Buy
11 2020 BMW 3 Series 330i $44,645 $545 61.0% Buy
12 2020 BMW 5 Series 530e $56,395 $670 61.0% Buy
13 2020 Mini Clubman Cooper S $34,750 $413 61.0% Buy
14 2019 BMW 3 Series 330i $44,145 $536 61.0% Buy
15 2019 BMW 5 Series 530e $56,345 $612 61.0% Lease
16 2020 Honda Pilot EX-L $39,080 $424 61.0% Lease
17 2020 Mazda CX-9 Sport $34,890 $374 61.0% Lease
18 2019 Ford Ranger XL $25,495 $308 61.0% Buy
19 2020 Acura RDX $38,825 $480 60.0% Buy
20 2019 Toyota Highlander LE $36,154 $353 60.0% Lease
21 2019 Toyota RAV4 LE $27,039 $305 60.0% Lease
22 2020 Honda Civic LX $22,705 $274 60.0% Buy
23 2020 Toyota C-HR LE $23,114 $285 60.0% Buy
24 2020 BMW 4 Series 430i $47,595 $548 60.0% Lease
25 2019 Toyota Sequoia SR5 $54,255 $559 60.0% Lease
26 2020 Subaru Ascent $33,005 $379 60.0% Lease
27 2020 BMW X1 sDrive28i $39,595 $490 59.0% Buy
28 2020 Hyundai Sonata SE $24,555 $291 59.0% Buy
29 2021 Kia Seltos LX $23,110 $263 59.0% Lease
30 2020 Nissan Titan S CC $43,990 $507 59.0% Lease
31 2019 Honda Civic Si $25,255 $289 59.0% Lease
32 2019 BMW X1 sDrive28i $38,995 $451 59.0% Lease
33 2020 BMW X2 sDrive28i $40,295 $500 59.0% Buy
34 2020 BMW Z4 sDrive30i $52,695 $645 59.0% Buy
35 2020 Mercedes CLA 250 $39,295 $479 59.0% Buy
36 2019 BMW i8 $152,195 $1,213 59.0% Lease
37 2019 BMW X2 sDrive28i $40,295 $471 59.0% Lease
38 2019 BMW X6 sDrive35i $66,245 $712 59.0% Lease
39 2019 BMW Z4 sDrive30i $52,695 $596 59.0% Lease
40 2020 Acura ILX $26,925 $310 58.0% Lease
41 2020 Hyundai Ioniq $24,155 $282 58.0% Lease
42 2020 Toyota Corolla LE $21,254 $246 58.0% Lease
43 2019 Honda CR-V EX $28,470 $330 58.0% Lease
44 2019 Honda HR-V LX $21,740 $248 58.0% Lease
45 2019 BMW i3 $47,595 $402 58.0% Lease
46 2020 Ford Explorer XLT $37,870 $432 58.0% Lease
47 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe SE $27,245 $293 58.0% Lease
48 2020 Mazda CX-30 $23,000 $283 58.0% Buy
49 2020 Subaru Outback Base $27,655 $310 58.0% Lease
50 2020 Mercedes E-Class E 350 $55,045 $667 58.0% Buy
51 2020 Nissan Sentra $21,600 $259 58.0% Buy
52 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe SE $26,845 $291 58.0% Lease
53 2019 Mercedes CLA 250 $35,895 $396 57.0% Lease
54 2020 Mercedes C-Class C 300 $43,895 $524 57.0% Buy
55 2020 Mercedes GLA 250 $37,145 $413 57.0% Lease
56 2019 BMW X3 sDrive30i $43,045 $529 57.0% Buy
57 2020 Acura MDX $45,525 $509 57.0% Lease
58 2019 Mercedes C-Class C 300 $43,995 $519 57.0% Buy
59 2020 Hyundai Kona SEL $23,220 $285 57.0% Buy
60 2020 Subaru Impreza Base $20,895 $238 57.0% Lease
61 2019 BMW 4 Series 430i $47,945 $528 57.0% Lease
62 2019 Mercedes E-Class E 300 $54,495 $652 56.0% Buy
63 2020 Mazda CX-5 Sport $26,190 $316 56.0% Buy
64 2019 BMW 7 Series 740i $86,345 $891 56.0% Lease
65 2020 Kia Sportage LX $25,035 $271 56.0% Lease
66 2020 Hyundai Tucson SE $24,670 $288 56.0% Lease
67 2020 Mercedes AMG GT $116,895 $1,410 56.0% Buy
68 2019 BMW 8 Series M850i xDrive $113,795 $1,368 56.0% Buy
69 2020 Infiniti QX50 Luxe $41,275 $486 55.0% Buy
70 2019 Mercedes GLA 250 $36,745 $413 55.0% Lease
71 2020 Nissan Murano S $33,710 $396 55.0% Buy
72 2019 Hyundai Tucson SE $24,445 $275 55.0% Lease
73 2019 Mercedes AMG GT $113,695 $1,337 54.0% Buy
74 2020 Subaru Legacy Base $23,645 $293 54.0% Buy
75 2020 Mazda Mazda3 $22,420 $263 54.0% Buy
76 2020 Toyota Prius Prime LE $28,789 $353 54.0% Buy
77 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport S $26,715 $288 54.0% Lease
78 2019 Hyundai Kona SEL $22,895 $273 54.0% Buy
79 2020 Audi Q5 e 55 Premium Plus $58,190 $672 54.0% Lease
80 2019 Nissan Titan SV CC $48,340 $504 54.0% Lease
81 2019 Honda Civic LX $22,405 $264 54.0% Buy
82 2019 Hyundai Ioniq $23,330 $274 54.0% Buy
83 2019 BMW 6 Series 640i xDrive Gran Turismo $73,545 $796 54.0% Lease
84 2020 Hyundai Veloster $19,775 $241 53.9% Buy
85 2020 Mazda Mazda6 Sport $24,945 $302 53.3% Buy
86 2019 Mercedes GLS 450 4MATIC $74,975 $921 53.0% Buy
87 2020 Mercedes S-Class S 450 $98,995 $1,202 53.0% Buy
88 2019 Kia Niro LX $24,945 $271 53.0% Lease
89 2019 Lincoln Continental Standard $47,140 $527 53.0% Lease
90 2020 Infiniti QX60 Pure $45,375 $491 53.0% Lease
91 2020 Toyota Camry LE $26,054 $314 53.0% Buy
92 2019 BMW 2 Series 230i $38,895 $441 53.0% Lease
93 2019 Mazda CX-5 Sport $25,450 $316 52.9% Buy
94 2019 Lincoln Nautilus Standard $41,335 $507 52.0% Buy
95 2019 Mercedes S-Class S 450 $97,245 $1,182 52.0% Buy
96 2020 Kia Forte LXS $20,115 $206 51.0% Lease
97 2020 Nissan Pathfinder S $34,900 $417 51.0% Buy
98 2019 Hyundai Sonata SE $23,580 $263 51.0% Lease
99 2019 Mazda CX-3 Sport $21,435 $259 51.0% Buy
100 2020 Acura TLX $34,025 $362 51.0% Lease
101 2020 Infiniti Q50 3.0t Luxe $39,875 $441 50.0% Lease
102 2020 Kia Sorento LX $29,035 $323 50.0% Lease
103 2020 Nissan Rogue S $28,205 $348 50.0% Buy
104 2020 Kia Optima LX $24,115 $248 49.0% Lease
105 2020 Hyundai Elantra SE $20,105 $214 49.0% Lease
106 2019 Toyota Camry LE $25,804 $314 49.0% Buy
107 2019 Lincoln MKZ Standard $36,990 $454 49.0% Buy
108 2019 Toyota C-HR LE $22,533 $275 48.0% Buy
109 2020 Kia Stinger GT-Line $34,085 $394 48.0% Lease
110 2020 Nissan Maxima S $35,745 $424 48.0% Buy
111 2019 Nissan Rogue Sport S $25,815 $292 48.0% Lease
112 2020 Genesis G70 2.0T Standard $36,445 $415 48.0% Lease
113 2019 Kia Sorento LX $28,695 $293 47.0% Lease
114 2020 Hyundai Elantra GT $21,605 $257 47.0% Buy
115 2019 Nissan Pathfinder S $34,750 $397 46.0% Lease
116 2019 Hyundai Elantra GT $21,380 $249 46.0% Lease
117 2019 Ford Flex SE $31,670 $364 45.0% Lease
118 2019 Kia Cadenza Premium $34,095 $384 44.0% Lease
119 2019 Kia Niro EV EX $39,545 $413 44.0% Lease
120 2019 Kia Stinger 2.0L $33,985 $345 43.0% Lease
121 2020 Nissan LEAF S $32,525 $351 40.0% Lease
122 2020 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium $35,995 $399 39.0% Lease
123 2019 Nissan LEAF S $30,915 $327 36.0% Lease
124 2019 Ford EcoSport S $21,090 $259 35.0% Buy
125 2019 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium $35,590 $417 32.0% Buy
126 2020 Audi A3 2.0T Premium $34,895 $409 % Buy
127 2020 Audi A6 45 Premium $57,195 $702 % Buy
128 2020 Audi Q5 45 Premium $44,295 $521 % Buy
129 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Tradesman $41,530 $206 % Lease
130 2020 Buick Enclave Essence $44,070 $386 % Lease
131 2020 Buick Encore gx Preferred $25,970 $270 % Lease
132 2019 Volkswagen Atlas S $30,895 $383 % Buy
133 2020 Cadillac XT5 Luxury $45,965 $478 % Lease
134 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf $38,420 $428 % Lease
135 2020 Chevrolet Blazer LT $33,175 $330 % Lease
136 2020 Chevrolet Equinox LT $29,570 $253 % Lease
137 2020 Chevrolet Malibu LT $27,495 $300 % Lease
138 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe LT $56,875 $645 % Lease
139 2020 Chevrolet Trax LT $25,070 $235 % Lease
140 2020 Jaguar F-Pace Premium 25t $47,800 $548 % Lease
141 2020 Dodge Durango SXT Plus $36,085 $398 % Lease
142 2020 Jeep Cherokee Limited $32,845 $348 % Lease
143 2020 Jeep Gladiator Sport $37,205 $358 % Lease
144 2020 GMC Acadia SLE $35,870 $302 % Lease
145 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 SLE $40,270 $411 % Lease
146 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque S $42,650 $475 % Lease
147 2020 GMC Yukon SLE $52,770 $583 % Lease
148 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Velar S P250 $56,300 $659 % Buy
149 2020 Lexus GS 350 F Sport $56,215 $684 % Buy
150 2020 Lexus IS 300 $39,585 $441 % Lease
151 2020 Lexus NX 300 $38,185 $432 % Lease
152 2020 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock $41,290 $451 % Lease
153 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan S - Transmission $24,945 $290 % Lease
154 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 $46,095 $526 % Lease
155 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC $37,705 $386 % Lease
156 2020 Volvo XC60 T5 Momentum $41,895 $513 % Buy
157 2020 Lexus RXL D $54,485 $616 % Lease
158 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 limited SLE $42,670 $503 % Buy
159 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti $42,040 $465 % Lease
160 2019 Audi A4 2.0T Premium $42,995 $477 % Lease
161 2019 Audi A6 45 Premium $56,395 $635 % Lease
162 2019 Audi e-tron Premium Plus $75,795 $825 % Lease
163 2019 Audi Q8 3.0T Premium $69,245 $843 % Buy
164 2019 Lexus ES 350 $41,040 $460 % Lease
165 2019 Lexus IS 300 F Sport $45,314 $460 % Lease
166 2019 Lexus LS 500 $76,628 $888 % Lease
167 2019 Buick Encore Preferred $26,470 $263 % Lease
168 2019 Lexus RX 350 $47,413 $489 % Lease
169 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LD LT $44,980 $312 % Lease
170 2019 Dodge Journey Crossroad $29,840 $347 % Lease
171 2019 Fiat 500e $34,705 $288 % Lease
172 2019 Maserati Ghibli $76,475 $860 % Lease
173 2019 Maserati Levante $77,475 $938 % Buy
174 2020 Audi A4 45 Premium $43,395 $527 % Buy
175 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC $37,275 $386 % Lease
176 2019 Porsche Cayenne E- $95,500 $1,096 % Lease
177 2020 Buick Encore Preferred $26,470 $234 % Lease
178 2020 Buick Envision Preferred $35,570 $322 % Lease
179 2020 Cadillac CT6 Luxury $60,865 $661 % Lease
180 2019 Volkswagen Arteon 2.0T SE $35,850 $443 % Buy
181 2020 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury $54,565 $613 % Lease
182 2020 Chevrolet Bolt LT $38,370 $269 % Lease
183 2020 Chevrolet Colorado LT $35,275 $381 % Lease
184 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom $39,095 $335 % Lease
185 2020 Chevrolet Suburban LT $59,675 $698 % Buy
186 2020 Chevrolet Traverse LT $37,470 $377 % Lease
187 2020 Jaguar E-Pace P250 $39,950 $450 % Lease
188 2020 Jaguar F-Type 2.0L 296 HP $74,200 $624 % Lease
189 2020 Jaguar XE S P250 $41,900 $466 % Lease
190 2020 Jeep Compass Latitude $26,850 $315 % Buy
191 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo $35,390 $418 % Buy
192 2020 Jeep Wrangler Sport $34,790 $362 % Lease
193 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport S $41,500 $514 % Buy
194 2020 GMC Terrain SLE $30,470 $269 % Lease
195 2020 Lexus ES 350 $41,005 $489 % Buy
196 2020 Lexus GX 460 Premium $57,365 $596 % Lease
197 2020 Lexus LX 570 2-row $89,490 $914 % Lease
198 2020 Lexus RX 350 $46,710 $518 % Lease
199 2020 Ram 1500 BIG Horn $40,735 $407 % Lease
200 2020 Volvo S60 T5 Momentum $37,045 $391 % Lease
201 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander ES 2.4 $26,235 $316 % Buy
202 2020 Volvo V90 T5 R-Design $53,840 $668 % Buy
203 2020 Volvo XC40 T4 Momentum $34,695 $426 % Buy
204 2020 Volvo XC90 T5 Momentum $50,740 $621 % Buy
205 2020 Lexus UX 200 $34,925 $431 % Buy
206 2019 Audi A5 Sportback 2.0T Premium $46,195 $526 % Lease
207 2019 Audi A8 L 3.0T $84,795 $1,027 % Buy
208 2019 Audi Q7 2.0T Premium $54,545 $606 % Lease
209 2019 Lexus LC 500 $101,542 $1,187 % Lease
210 2019 Lexus RC 300 $49,480 $557 % Lease
211 2019 Chevrolet Bolt LT $37,495 $322 % Lease
212 2019 Lexus UX 200 $33,374 $374 % Lease
213 2019 Fiat 500X Trekking $27,740 $340 % Buy
214 2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport $157,895 $1,518 % Lease
215 2019 Maserati Quattroporte S $109,675 $1,255 % Lease

My Recommendation for Car Shoppers

TrueCar and RydeShopper 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

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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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