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Which Cars Better to Lease or Buy

December 5, 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 2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Offroad, with a residual value of 74% over 3 years. With an MSRP of $38,818, that means it will depreciate by only about $10,000 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 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 2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road $38,818 $392 74.0% Lease
2 2019 Toyota Tacoma SR5 $36,333 $343 72.0% Lease
3 2019 Toyota 4Runner SR5 $38,394 $420 66.0% Lease
4 2019 Toyota Tundra SR5 $39,524 $421 65.0% Lease
5 2020 Honda Civic Si $25,930 $299 64.0% Lease
6 2020 Toyota Tundra SR5 $39,979 $450 64.0% Lease
7 2019 Toyota Mirai Mirai $59,430 $466 64.0% Lease
8 2019 Honda Ridgeline Sport $36,385 $400 63.0% Lease
9 2020 Kia Telluride LX $32,785 $398 63.0% Buy
10 2019 Nissan Frontier SV SWB $34,135 $402 63.0% Buy
11 2019 Ford Ranger XL $25,495 $308 62.0% Buy
12 2020 Honda Pilot EX-L $38,955 $424 62.0% Lease
13 2020 Mini Clubman Cooper S $34,750 $393 62.0% Lease
14 2019 Toyota Highlander LE $36,154 $373 61.0% Lease
15 2019 BMW 5 Series 530e $56,345 $609 61.0% Lease
16 2020 Mazda CX-9 Sport $34,835 $384 61.0% Lease
17 2019 BMW 3 Series 330i $44,145 $535 61.0% Buy
18 2020 BMW 5 Series 530e $56,395 $699 61.0% Buy
19 2019 Toyota RAV4 LE $28,504 $334 61.0% Buy
20 2020 BMW 4 Series 430i $47,595 $558 60.0% Buy
21 2019 Toyota Sequoia SR5 $54,255 $559 60.0% Lease
22 2020 Honda Civic LX $22,580 $274 60.0% Buy
23 2019 Honda Civic Si $25,230 $289 60.0% Lease
24 2020 Hyundai Kona SEL $22,995 $282 60.0% Buy
25 2019 Nissan Armada SV $49,415 $485 60.0% Lease
26 2020 BMW X2 sDrive28i $40,295 $488 59.0% Buy
27 2020 Subaru Outback Base $27,655 $326 59.0% Buy
28 2019 BMW X1 sDrive28i $38,995 $428 59.0% Lease
29 2020 Acura ILX $26,895 $310 59.0% Lease
30 2020 BMW X1 sDrive28i $39,595 $478 59.0% Buy
31 2019 BMW i8 $152,195 $1,211 59.0% Lease
32 2019 BMW X2 sDrive28i $40,295 $438 59.0% Lease
33 2019 BMW Z4 sDrive30i $52,695 $608 59.0% Lease
34 2019 Honda CR-V EX $28,445 $330 59.0% Lease
35 2019 Honda HR-V LX $21,715 $248 59.0% Lease
36 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe SE $26,995 $291 59.0% Lease
37 2020 Hyundai Tucson SE $24,445 $285 59.0% Lease
38 2020 Acura MDX $45,395 $510 58.0% Lease
39 2019 BMW i3 $47,595 $408 58.0% Lease
40 2019 BMW X3 sDrive30i $43,045 $528 58.0% Buy
41 2020 Hyundai Veloster $19,530 $238 58.0% Buy
42 2020 Mercedes E-Class E 350 $55,045 $677 58.0% Buy
43 2020 Toyota Corolla LE $21,129 $229 58.0% Lease
44 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe SE $26,845 $291 58.0% Lease
45 2019 Mercedes CLA 250 $35,895 $396 57.0% Lease
46 2020 Mercedes C-Class C 300 $43,995 $519 57.0% Buy
47 2019 Honda Pilot EX-L $38,855 $412 57.0% Lease
48 2020 Mercedes GLA 250 $37,145 $423 57.0% Lease
49 2020 Nissan Murano S $33,660 $361 57.0% Lease
50 2020 Kia Sportage LX $25,035 $277 57.0% Lease
51 2019 Mercedes C-Class C 300 $43,995 $519 57.0% Buy
52 2019 BMW 7 Series 740i $86,345 $894 56.0% Lease
53 2020 Hyundai Sonata SE $24,330 $288 56.0% Buy
54 2019 Nissan Titan SV CC $48,140 $445 56.0% Lease
55 2019 Mazda CX-9 Sport $33,325 $364 56.0% Lease
56 2019 Mercedes E-Class E 300 $54,495 $662 56.0% Buy
57 2019 Subaru Impreza 2.0i $20,980 $235 56.0% Lease
58 2019 BMW 8 Series M850i xDrive $113,795 $1,357 56.0% Buy
59 2020 Infiniti Q50 Edition 30 $44,725 $512 56.0% Lease
60 2019 Mazda CX-5 Sport $25,395 $291 56.0% Lease
61 2019 Honda Civic LX $22,380 $264 55.0% Buy
62 2020 Infiniti QX60 Pure $45,375 $481 55.0% Lease
63 2019 Mercedes GLC 300 $42,945 $524 55.0% Buy
64 2019 Honda Accord LX $24,650 $284 55.0% Lease
65 2019 Hyundai Tucson SE $24,445 $275 55.0% Lease
66 2019 Mercedes GLA 250 $36,745 $413 55.0% Lease
67 2019 Acura ILX $26,895 $291 54.0% Lease
68 2019 Lincoln Continental Standard $47,140 $526 54.0% Lease
69 2019 Hyundai Kona SEL $22,895 $273 54.0% Buy
70 2019 Mercedes AMG GT $113,695 $1,387 54.0% Buy
71 2019 Kia Niro LX $24,945 $287 54.0% Lease
72 2019 BMW 6 Series 640i xDrive Gran Turismo $73,545 $797 54.0% Lease
73 2020 Mazda Mazda3 $22,420 $263 54.0% Buy
74 2020 Genesis G80 $43,545 $517 53.0% Buy
75 2019 Hyundai Veloster $19,430 $228 53.0% Buy
76 2019 Mercedes GLS 450 4MATIC $74,975 $921 53.0% Buy
77 2020 Kia Forte LXS $20,115 $234 53.0% Lease
78 2019 Infiniti QX50 Luxe $40,425 $469 53.0% Lease
79 2020 Acura TLX $33,995 $360 52.0% Lease
80 2019 Nissan Murano S $32,850 $368 52.0% Lease
81 2019 Toyota Corolla SE $23,649 $248 52.0% Lease
82 2019 Ford Expedition XLT $53,525 $660 52.0% Buy
83 2020 Hyundai Elantra SE $19,880 $212 52.0% Lease
84 2019 Mercedes S-Class S 450 $97,245 $1,182 52.0% Buy
85 2019 Toyota Camry LE $25,804 $278 51.0% Lease
86 2019 Hyundai Sonata SE $23,580 $263 51.0% Lease
87 2019 Mazda CX-3 Sport $21,435 $257 51.0% Buy
88 2019 Lincoln MKZ Standard $36,990 $454 51.0% Buy
89 2020 Kia Optima LX $24,115 $263 50.0% Lease
90 2019 Nissan Rogue Sport S $25,765 $319 50.0% Buy
91 2019 Kia Forte LXS $20,115 $220 50.0% Lease
92 2019 Toyota C-HR LE $22,533 $258 50.0% Lease
93 2019 Genesis G80 $43,045 $468 50.0% Lease
94 2020 Ford Edge SE $32,195 $394 49.0% Buy
95 2020 Genesis G70 2.0T Standard $36,445 $415 49.0% Lease
96 2019 Nissan Pathfinder S $34,700 $397 49.0% Lease
97 2019 Kia Sorento LX $28,695 $320 48.0% Lease
98 2019 Mazda Mazda3 $21,920 $243 48.0% Lease
99 2020 Hyundai Elantra GT $21,580 $257 47.0% Buy
100 2019 Hyundai Elantra $19,130 $212 47.0% Lease
101 2019 Infiniti Q50 3.0t Luxe $39,325 $412 47.0% Lease
102 2019 Ford Flex SE $31,670 $358 46.0% Lease
103 2019 Hyundai Elantra GT $21,380 $249 46.0% Lease
104 2019 Kia Optima LX $23,915 $253 46.0% Lease
105 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T Elite $40,895 $425 45.0% Lease
106 2019 Infiniti Q60 3.0t Pure $41,775 $490 45.0% Buy
107 2019 Kia Stinger 2.0L $33,985 $373 45.0% Lease
108 2019 Kia Niro EV EX $39,545 $421 45.0% Lease
109 2019 Nissan Maxima S $35,520 $397 44.0% Lease
110 2019 Hyundai Ioniq $31,245 $175 44.0% Lease
111 2019 Kia Cadenza Premium $34,095 $412 44.0% Buy
112 2020 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium $35,995 $390 40.0% Lease
113 2019 Genesis G90 $70,345 $728 40.0% Lease
114 2019 Nissan LEAF S $30,885 $327 38.0% Lease
115 2019 Ford EcoSport S $21,090 $261 37.0% Buy
116 2019 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium $35,590 $418 33.0% Buy
117 2019 Volvo S60 T5 Momentum $36,795 $378 % Lease
118 2020 GMC Canyon SLE $32,870 $377 % Lease
119 2020 GMC Terrain SLE $30,470 $327 % Lease
120 2019 Ram 1500 BIG Horn $46,025 $370 % Lease
121 2020 Buick Envision Preferred $35,570 $380 % Lease
122 2020 Chevrolet Blazer LT $33,175 $411 % Buy
123 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT $47,485 $538 % Lease
124 2019 Volkswagen Atlas SE $35,495 $379 % Lease
125 2020 Chevrolet Traverse LT $36,275 $442 % Buy
126 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf SE $31,895 $359 % Lease
127 2020 Chrysler Pacifica Limited $45,940 $430 % Lease
128 2019 Volkswagen Jetta S $19,545 $239 % Buy
129 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque S $42,650 $475 % Lease
130 2020 Lexus ES 350 $41,210 $499 % Buy
131 2020 Lexus GX 460 $54,665 $577 % Lease
132 2020 Lexus NX 300 $39,735 $447 % Lease
133 2020 Lexus RXL D $59,310 $638 % Lease
134 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 Elevation $46,070 $526 % Lease
135 2019 GMC Yukon SLE $54,670 $522 % Lease
136 2019 Buick Enclave Preferred $42,070 $508 % Buy
137 2019 Cadillac CT6 Premium Luxury $64,465 $668 % Lease
138 2019 Cadillac XT5 Luxury $50,365 $541 % Lease
139 2019 Chevrolet Bolt LT $37,495 $401 % Lease
140 2018 Maserati GranTurismo Sport $136,475 $1,401 % Lease
141 2018 Smart EQ fortwo $24,650 $165 % Lease
142 2020 Jaguar F-Type 2.0L 296 HP $74,200 $624 % Lease
143 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LD LT $46,475 $361 % Lease
144 2020 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk $36,895 $312 % Lease
145 2019 Audi A4 2.0T Premium $38,395 $463 % Buy
146 2020 Jeep Gladiator Sport $40,220 $398 % Lease
147 2019 Audi A6 45 Premium $56,395 $649 % Lease
148 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Touring Plus $34,740 $364 % Lease
149 2019 Audi e-tron Premium Plus $75,795 $937 % Buy
150 2019 Fiat 500e $34,705 $288 % Lease
151 2019 Audi Q5 2.0T Premium $43,945 $529 % Buy
152 2019 Audi Q8 3.0T Premium Plus $72,995 $886 % Buy
153 2020 Volvo XC90 T5 Momentum $50,740 $598 % Buy
154 2019 Land Rover Discovery SE $52,950 $649 % Buy
155 2019 Land Rover Range Rover Velar S P250 $54,700 $620 % Lease
156 2019 Lexus GS 350 F Sport $55,915 $616 % Lease
157 2019 Lexus IS 300 $39,435 $421 % Lease
158 2019 Lexus LS 500 $76,528 $875 % Lease
159 2019 Lexus RC 300 $45,320 $509 % Lease
160 2019 Lexus RXL D $53,298 $552 % Lease
161 2019 Maserati Ghibli $76,475 $910 % Buy
162 2019 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Plus $30,110 $279 % Lease
163 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Altitude $42,085 $368 % Lease
164 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan S $24,295 $289 % Buy
165 2020 GMC Acadia SLE $35,870 $370 % Lease
166 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali $57,170 $596 % Lease
167 2020 GMC Yukon SLE $52,770 $536 % Lease
168 2019 Smart EQ fortwo $24,650 $175 % Lease
169 2020 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury $54,565 $623 % Lease
170 2020 Chevrolet Equinox LT $28,375 $308 % Lease
171 2019 Volkswagen Arteon $35,845 $439 % Buy
172 2020 Chevrolet Trax LT $24,075 $295 % Buy
173 2020 Lexus IS 300 $42,035 $489 % Lease
174 2020 Lexus LX 570 2-row $89,490 $982 % Lease
175 2020 Lexus RX 350 $47,480 $533 % Lease
176 2019 GMC Acadia SLE-1 $34,870 $404 % Lease
177 2019 GMC Terrain SLE $31,670 $379 % Buy
178 2019 Buick Encore Preferred $26,470 $289 % Lease
179 2019 Chevrolet Blazer 1LT $33,175 $382 % Lease
180 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC $36,015 $331 % Lease
181 2018 Smart fortwo $24,650 $165 % Lease
182 2020 Jaguar F-Pace Premium 25t $47,800 $538 % Lease
183 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom $39,095 $387 % Lease
184 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti $44,040 $466 % Lease
185 2020 Jaguar XE S P250 $41,900 $466 % Lease
186 2020 Jeep Compass Limited $31,400 $315 % Lease
187 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo $37,390 $328 % Lease
188 2019 Chevrolet Volt LT $34,395 $369 % Lease
189 2019 Audi A8 L 3.0T $86,795 $971 % Lease
190 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC 1AT $37,405 $426 % Lease
191 2019 Audi Q7 2.0T Premium $54,545 $659 % Buy
192 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport S $41,500 $514 % Buy
193 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC $37,175 $386 % Lease
194 2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport SE $37,990 $417 % Lease
195 2019 Lexus ES 350 $44,455 $470 % Lease
196 2019 Lexus GX 460 $56,920 $538 % Lease
197 2019 Lexus LC 500 $101,294 $1,157 % Lease
198 2019 Lexus LX 570 2-row $89,340 $895 % Lease
199 2019 Lexus RX 350 $45,235 $503 % Lease
200 2019 Lexus UX 200 $33,374 $384 % Lease
201 2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport $157,895 $1,906 % Buy
202 2019 Maserati Quattroporte S $109,675 $1,342 % Buy
203 2019 Jaguar E-Pace S P250 $41,200 $470 % Lease
204 2019 Jeep Compass Latitude $26,840 $273 % Lease
205 2019 Jeep Renegade Latitude $26,870 $250 % 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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