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Which Cars Better to Lease or Buy

July 25, 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 75% over 3 years. With an MSRP of $36,183, 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 $36,183 $373 75.0% Lease
2 2019 Toyota Tundra SR5 Ft. Bed $40,103 $488 69.0% Buy
3 2019 Toyota 4Runner SR5 $38,194 $449 68.0% Buy
4 2020 Kia Telluride LX $32,735 $398 66.0% Buy
5 2019 Toyota Highlander LE $36,154 $334 64.0% Lease
6 2019 Toyota RAV4 LE $28,354 $314 64.0% Lease
7 2019 Toyota Mirai Mirai $59,420 $427 63.9% Lease
8 2019 BMW 3 Series 330i xDrive $47,395 $488 62.0% Lease
9 2019 Ford Ranger XL $25,495 $316 62.0% Buy
10 2020 BMW 3 Series M340i $56,245 $685 61.0% Buy
11 2019 BMW 5 Series 530e $56,345 $609 61.0% Lease
12 2019 Subaru Ascent $32,970 $403 61.0% Buy
13 2019 Honda Civic Si $25,230 $289 61.0% Lease
14 2020 Kia Sportage LX $25,035 $287 61.0% Lease
15 2019 Honda CR-V EX $28,445 $330 61.0% Lease
16 2019 Subaru Forester $25,270 $305 60.0% Buy
17 2019 Toyota Sequoia $54,255 $559 60.0% Lease
18 2020 Toyota Corolla LE $21,129 $246 60.0% Lease
19 2019 BMW X2 sDrive28i $40,295 $448 59.0% Lease
20 2019 BMW X6 sDrive35i $66,245 $702 59.0% Lease
21 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe SE $26,795 $310 59.0% Lease
22 2019 BMW i8 $152,195 $1,251 59.0% Lease
23 2019 BMW X1 sDrive28i $38,995 $478 59.0% Buy
24 2019 Honda Pilot EX-L $38,855 $431 59.0% Lease
25 2019 BMW i3 $47,595 $418 58.0% Lease
26 2019 Mini Clubman Cooper $27,250 $335 58.0% Buy
27 2019 Mini Countryman Cooper $29,250 $355 58.0% Buy
28 2019 Kia Niro LX $24,895 $287 58.0% Lease
29 2019 BMW X3 sDrive30i $43,045 $508 58.0% Buy
30 2019 Honda Civic LX $21,680 $245 57.0% Lease
31 2019 Mazda CX-5 Sport $25,395 $282 57.0% Lease
32 2019 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i $22,870 $284 57.0% Buy
33 2019 BMW 4 Series 430i $47,945 $538 57.0% Lease
34 2019 Mercedes CLA 250 $35,895 $396 57.0% Lease
35 2019 Mercedes E-Class E 300 $54,495 $662 57.0% Buy
36 2019 Honda Accord LX $24,650 $284 57.0% Lease
37 2019 Hyundai Tucson SE $24,245 $295 57.0% Buy
38 2019 Mercedes C-Class C 300 $43,995 $514 57.0% Lease
39 2019 BMW 7 Series 740i $86,345 $914 56.0% Lease
40 2019 Mercedes GLA 250 $36,745 $423 56.0% Lease
41 2019 Acura ILX $26,895 $310 56.0% Lease
42 2019 Acura MDX $45,295 $467 56.0% Lease
43 2019 Subaru Outback 2.5i $27,320 $295 56.0% Lease
44 2019 Toyota Camry LE $29,344 $334 56.0% Lease
45 2019 Infiniti QX50 Luxe $40,395 $469 56.0% Lease
46 2020 Kia Optima $30,235 $355 55.0% Buy
47 2019 Lincoln Continental Standard $47,140 $526 55.0% Lease
48 2020 Acura TLX $33,995 $393 54.0% Lease
49 2019 Toyota Corolla SE $23,649 $266 54.0% Lease
50 2019 Kia Forte LXS $20,115 $234 54.0% Lease
51 2019 Infiniti QX60 Pure $45,245 $481 54.0% Lease
52 2019 Subaru Impreza 2.0i $19,480 $219 54.0% Lease
53 2019 BMW 6 Series 640i xDrive Gran Turismo $73,545 $817 54.0% Lease
54 2019 Nissan Murano S $32,850 $354 54.0% Lease
55 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL SE $31,995 $380 54.0% Buy
56 2019 Mazda CX-3 Sport $21,435 $253 54.0% Buy
57 2019 Toyota C-HR LE $22,304 $266 53.0% Buy
58 2019 Ford Expedition XLT $53,525 $660 53.0% Buy
59 2019 Lincoln MKC Standard $34,990 $425 53.0% Buy
60 2019 BMW 2 Series 230i $38,895 $451 53.0% Lease
61 2019 Kia Sportage LX $24,795 $281 53.0% Lease
62 2019 Nissan Pathfinder S $34,700 $353 52.0% Lease
63 2019 Lincoln MKZ Standard $36,990 $453 52.0% Buy
64 2019 Kia Sorento LX $28,695 $320 52.0% Lease
65 2019 Subaru Legacy 2.5i $23,430 $282 51.0% Buy
66 2019 Kia Optima LX $23,915 $267 50.0% Lease
67 2019 Kia Stinger 2.0L $33,985 $388 50.0% Lease
68 2020 Hyundai Elantra SE $19,870 $241 50.0% Buy
69 2018 Lincoln Continental Premiere $46,155 $568 49.0% Buy
70 2019 Genesis G70 $35,895 $413 49.0% Lease
71 2019 Kia Niro EV EX $39,495 $421 49.0% Lease
72 2019 Infiniti Q50 3.0t Luxe $39,295 $427 49.0% Lease
73 2019 Hyundai Sonata $34,320 $384 48.0% Lease
74 2019 Ford Flex SE $31,670 $345 47.0% Lease
75 2019 Hyundai Elantra $19,120 $221 47.0% Lease
76 2019 Hyundai Kona $37,995 $448 47.0% Buy
77 2019 Kia Cadenza Premium $34,095 $412 47.0% Buy
78 2019 Infiniti Q60 3.0t Pure $41,745 $490 46.0% Buy
79 2019 Ford Edge SE $31,090 $365 45.0% Buy
80 2019 Genesis G90 $70,345 $832 43.0% Buy
81 2019 Nissan LEAF S $30,885 $351 38.0% Lease
82 2019 Ford Fusion Energi Energi Titanium $35,590 $419 35.0% Buy
83 2019 Chevrolet Blazer 1LT $33,175 $382 % Lease
84 2019 Porsche Panamera $110,150 $1,347 % Buy
85 2019 Smart EQ fortwo $24,650 $175 % Lease
86 2019 Audi A4 2.0T Premium $39,895 $398 % Lease
87 2019 Chevrolet Equinox LT $29,270 $290 % Lease
88 2019 Audi A6 3.0T Premium $61,795 $663 % Lease
89 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LD LT $46,475 $415 % Lease
90 2020 Cadillac Xt6 Premium Luxury $54,565 $613 % Lease
91 2019 Audi Q7 2.0T Premium $55,395 $649 % Buy
92 2019 Audi S4 3.0T Premium Plus $62,440 $611 % Lease
93 2019 Chevrolet Traverse LT $37,470 $419 % Lease
94 2020 Jeep Gladiator Sport $37,040 $355 % Lease
95 2019 Volkswagen Atlas S $34,095 $410 % Buy
96 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf SE $31,895 $325 % Lease
97 2019 Buick Enclave Preferred $42,070 $418 % Lease
98 2019 Buick Envision Preferred $35,570 $338 % Lease
99 2019 Volvo S60 T5 Momentum $36,795 $387 % Lease
100 2019 Cadillac CTS Standard $48,865 $520 % Lease
101 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC $36,015 $358 % Lease
102 2018 Smart fortwo $24,650 $165 % Lease
103 2019 Cadillac XT5 Standard $43,565 $389 % Lease
104 2019 Volvo XC90 T5 Momentum $50,090 $611 % Buy
105 2019 GMC Canyon SLE $31,995 $397 % Buy
106 2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport SE $37,990 $436 % Lease
107 2019 GMC Yukon SLE $50,895 $584 % Lease
108 2019 Land Rover Range Rover Velar S P250 $54,700 $649 % Buy
109 2019 Lexus GS 350 F Sport $60,240 $674 % Lease
110 2019 Lexus GX 460 $54,280 $577 % Lease
111 2020 Lexus NX 300 $38,443 $460 % Buy
112 2019 Lexus LX 570 2-row $89,200 $943 % Lease
113 2019 Lexus RC 300 $45,320 $528 % Lease
114 2019 Lexus RX 350 $46,735 $471 % Lease
115 2019 Lexus UX 200 $33,374 $403 % Buy
116 2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport $157,895 $1,906 % Buy
117 2019 Jaguar E-Pace S P250 $41,200 $499 % Buy
118 2019 Maserati Quattroporte S $109,675 $1,342 % Buy
119 2019 Jeep Cherokee Latitude $30,390 $341 % Lease
120 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo $35,540 $426 % Buy
121 2019 Jeep Wrangler Sport $36,235 $384 % Lease
122 2019 Ram 1500 BIG Horn $39,380 $409 % Lease
123 2019 Chevrolet Colorado LT $31,370 $375 % Buy
124 2019 Audi A3 2.0T Titanium Premium $36,245 $439 % Buy
125 2019 Audi A8 L 3.0T $86,795 $1,075 % Buy
126 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom $39,095 $412 % Lease
127 2019 Audi Q5 2.0T Premium $45,445 $509 % Lease
128 2020 Jaguar F-Type 2.0L 296 HP $61,600 $653 % Lease
129 2019 Chevrolet Trax LT $25,070 $298 % Buy
130 2019 Fiat 500e $34,705 $269 % Lease
131 2019 Buick Encore Preferred $26,470 $283 % Lease
132 2018 Fiat 500e $34,240 $288 % Lease
133 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC $37,175 $426 % Lease
134 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan S $25,595 $306 % Buy
135 2018 Jeep Wrangler Sport $34,940 $383 % Lease
136 2019 Cadillac CT6 Premium Luxury $59,965 $635 % Lease
137 2018 Maserati GranTurismo Sport $136,475 $1,401 % Lease
138 2018 Smart EQ fortwo $24,650 $165 % Lease
139 2019 Cadillac XT4 Premium Luxury $41,165 $495 % Buy
140 2019 Lexus ES 350 $40,625 $452 % Lease
141 2019 Lexus IS 300 $40,058 $442 % Lease
142 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque S $42,650 $524 % Buy
143 2019 Lexus LS 500 $79,748 $942 % Buy
144 2019 Lexus NX 300 $37,950 $432 % Lease
145 2019 Lexus RXL D $53,198 $538 % Lease
146 2019 Maserati Ghibli $76,475 $891 % Lease
147 2019 Jaguar F-Pace Premium 25t $47,250 $528 % Lease
148 2019 Jaguar XE 25t $36,995 $398 % Lease
149 2019 Jeep Compass Latitude $26,840 $331 % Buy
150 2019 Jeep Renegade Latitude $27,120 $333 % Buy

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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