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Which Cars Better to Lease or Buy

March 28, 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 76% over 3 years. With an MSRP of $36,483, that means it will depreciate by only $8,755 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.

Rank Vehicle Trim MSRP Lease Payment ($0 Down) Residual Better To...
1 2019 Toyota Tacoma SR5 $36,483 $363 76.0% Lease
2 2019 Toyota Tundra SR5 $39,274 $468 70.0% Buy
3 2019 Nissan Armada SV $48,810 $462 69.0% Lease
4 2020 Kia Telluride LX $32,735 $388 67.0% Buy
5 2019 Toyota 4Runner SR5 $37,994 $468 67.0% Buy
6 2019 Nissan Titan S CC $41,520 $342 66.0% Lease
7 2019 Toyota Highlander LE $36,154 $343 65.0% Lease
8 2019 Toyota Mirai Mirai $59,420 $427 63.9% Lease
9 2019 Subaru Forester $25,270 $305 63.0% Buy
10 2019 Subaru Ascent $32,970 $403 63.0% Buy
11 2019 Honda Civic Si $25,220 $289 62.0% Lease
12 2019 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i $22,870 $284 62.0% Buy
13 2018 BMW 5 Series 530e iPerformance $56,495 $659 61.0% Lease
14 2019 BMW 3 Series 330i xDrive $47,395 $528 61.0% Lease
15 2019 Honda Pilot EX-L $38,805 $438 61.0% Lease
16 2018 BMW 3 Series 320i $38,695 $401 60.0% Lease
17 2019 Kia Niro LX $24,895 $287 60.0% Lease
18 2019 Subaru Outback 2.5i $27,320 $295 60.0% Lease
19 2018 BMW X2 sDrive28i $39,295 $388 59.0% Lease
20 2018 BMW X5 xDrive40e iPerformance $66,445 $712 59.0% Lease
21 2019 BMW X6 sDrive35i $66,245 $742 59.0% Lease
22 2018 BMW X1 sDrive28i $37,945 $418 59.0% Lease
23 2018 BMW X3 xDrive30i $44,195 $548 59.0% Buy
24 2019 Honda CR-V LX $25,395 $309 59.0% Buy
25 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe SE $26,545 $310 59.0% Lease
26 2019 Acura ILX $26,895 $316 58.0% Buy
27 2018 BMW i3 $47,745 $418 58.0% Lease
28 2019 BMW i3 $47,595 $448 58.0% Lease
29 2019 Honda Civic LX $21,570 $245 58.0% Lease
30 2019 Mazda CX-5 Sport $25,395 $298 58.0% Buy
31 2019 Acura MDX $45,295 $505 58.0% Lease
32 2019 BMW i8 $152,195 $1,591 58.0% Lease
33 2019 Mercedes C-Class C 300 $43,995 $534 58.0% Buy
34 2019 Subaru Impreza 2.0i $19,480 $219 58.0% Lease
35 2019 Mercedes CLA 250 $35,895 $445 57.0% Buy
36 2019 Infiniti QX60 Pure $45,245 $481 57.0% Lease
37 2019 Mazda CX-9 Sport $33,325 $394 57.0% Buy
38 2019 Toyota Camry LE $25,270 $285 57.0% Lease
39 2019 BMW 7 Series 740i $86,345 $954 56.0% Lease
40 2019 Nissan Murano S $32,745 $382 56.0% Lease
41 2019 Kia Forte LXS $20,115 $234 56.0% Lease
42 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL SE $31,865 $360 55.1% Lease
43 2019 Lincoln MKC Standard $34,990 $425 55.0% Buy
44 2019 Infiniti QX50 Luxe $40,395 $489 55.0% Buy
45 2019 Subaru Legacy 2.5i $23,430 $282 55.0% Buy
46 2019 Toyota C-HR LE $21,990 $246 55.0% Lease
47 2018 BMW M6 $123,795 $1,377 54.0% Lease
48 2019 Kia Sportage LX $24,795 $281 54.0% Lease
49 2018 BMW 6 Series 640i xDrive Gran Turismo $74,345 $807 54.0% Lease
50 2019 Toyota Sienna LE $35,219 $431 54.0% Buy
51 2019 Nissan Rogue Sport S $25,655 $304 54.0% Buy
52 2018 BMW 2 Series 230i $38,695 $431 53.0% Lease
53 2019 Lincoln MKZ Standard $36,990 $453 53.0% Buy
54 2018 Honda Accord LX $24,465 $252 53.0% Lease
55 2019 Kia Sorento LX $28,695 $320 53.0% Lease
56 2019 Nissan Pathfinder S $34,390 $374 53.0% Lease
57 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe $31,830 $337 52.0% Lease
58 2019 Infiniti Q50 3.0t Luxe $39,295 $427 52.0% Lease
59 2019 Kia Optima LX $23,915 $267 52.0% Lease
60 2019 Nissan Rogue S $27,765 $316 52.0% Lease
61 2019 Acura TLX $33,995 $360 52.0% Lease
62 2018 Lincoln Continental Premiere $46,155 $568 52.0% Buy
63 2019 Hyundai Sonata SE $23,220 $280 52.0% Buy
64 2019 Kia Stinger 2.0L $33,985 $388 52.0% Lease
65 2018 Mazda Mazda6 Sport $23,895 $278 51.0% Lease
66 2019 Toyota Corolla LE $20,055 $227 51.0% Lease
67 2018 Genesis G80 $42,745 $518 51.0% Buy
68 2018 Hyundai Tucson SE $23,530 $246 50.0% Lease
69 2019 Kia Cadenza Premium $34,095 $398 50.0% Lease
70 2018 Nissan Murano S $32,260 $382 50.0% Buy
71 2019 Infiniti Q60 3.0t Pure $41,745 $502 50.0% Buy
72 2018 Hyundai Sonata SE $22,935 $255 49.0% Lease
73 2019 Nissan Maxima S $35,410 $423 49.0% Buy
74 2018 Kia Stinger 2.0L $32,800 $378 48.0% Lease
75 2019 Ford Flex SE $31,670 $347 48.0% Lease
76 2018 Audi A6 2.0T Premium $55,125 $667 46.0% Buy
77 2019 Honda Clarity $34,320 $403 46.0% Buy
78 2018 Kia Cadenza Premium $33,190 $378 46.0% Lease
79 2019 Hyundai Ioniq $31,235 $302 46.0% Lease
80 2018 Infiniti Q70L 3.7 Luxe LWB $52,795 $578 45.0% Lease
81 2018 Ford Flex SE $31,280 $353 45.0% Lease
82 2018 Toyota Prius Prime Plus $28,528 $353 45.0% Buy
83 2018 Infiniti Q70 3.7 Luxe $51,295 $558 44.0% Lease
84 2018 Ford EcoSport S $20,990 $224 44.0% Lease
85 2018 Hyundai Ioniq $30,385 $356 43.0% Buy
86 2018 Nissan Maxima S $34,815 $403 43.0% Lease
87 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT $21,235 $255 43.0% Buy
88 2018 Infiniti Q60 2.0t Luxe $43,295 $467 42.0% Lease
89 2018 Ford Transit Connect XLT $27,025 $316 41.0% Lease
90 2018 Genesis G90 $69,345 $861 41.0% Buy
91 2019 Kia Soul EV EV $34,945 $268 41.0% Lease
92 2018 Honda Clarity $34,295 $364 40.0% Lease
93 2018 Ford Focus S $18,825 $200 39.0% Lease
94 2019 Ford Fusion Energi Energi Titanium $35,590 $354 37.0% Lease
95 2019 Nissan LEAF S $30,885 $340 36.0% Lease
96 2018 Nissan LEAF S $30,885 $311 35.0% Lease
97 2018 Hyundai Kona $22,130 $270 34.0% Buy
98 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti $43,790 $512 % Buy
99 2019 Audi A3 2.0T Premium $37,745 $423 % Lease
100 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia $39,490 $462 % Lease
101 2018 Jeep Wrangler Sport $34,940 $340 % Lease
102 2018 Lexus LS 500 $79,836 $866 % Lease
103 2018 Maserati GranTurismo Sport $136,475 $1,537 % Lease
104 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC $35,965 $395 % Lease
105 2018 Smart fortwo $24,650 $165 % Lease
106 2018 Volvo S90 T5 Momentum $50,440 $581 % Lease
107 2019 Audi A6 3.0T Premium $59,895 $724 % Buy
108 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LD LT $46,870 $380 % Lease
109 2019 Audi Q5 2.0T Premium $43,945 $529 % Buy
110 2019 Chevrolet Traverse LT $36,175 $425 % Buy
111 2019 Chevrolet Volt LT $34,395 $395 % Lease
112 2019 Buick Enclave Preferred $42,070 $457 % Lease
113 2019 Buick Envision Preferred $35,570 $345 % Lease
114 2019 Cadillac ATS Luxury $44,665 $550 % Buy
115 2019 GMC Yukon SLE $50,895 $613 % Buy
116 2019 Cadillac CT6 Premium Luxury $59,965 $602 % Lease
117 2019 Cadillac Escalade Luxury $85,965 $1,045 % Buy
118 2019 Cadillac XT4 Premium Luxury $41,165 $476 % Lease
119 2019 Chevrolet Equinox LT $28,075 $297 % Lease
120 2019 Audi A4 2.0T Premium $40,505 $452 % Lease
121 2019 Jaguar F-Pace Premium 25t $47,000 $550 % Lease
122 2019 Jaguar XE 25t $36,995 $381 % Lease
123 2019 Jeep Compass Latitude $26,590 $316 % Buy
124 2019 Land Rover Discovery SE $52,600 $618 % Buy
125 2019 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque SE $41,800 $459 % Lease
126 2019 Lexus ES 350 $40,969 $480 % Buy
127 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC $37,125 $436 % Buy
128 2019 Lexus IS 300 $40,058 $431 % Lease
129 2019 Lexus LX 570 2-row $88,940 $924 % Lease
130 2019 Lexus RC 300 $45,320 $538 % Buy
131 2019 Lexus RX L 350 $51,333 $567 % Lease
132 2019 Lexus UX 200 $33,303 $403 % Buy
133 2019 Volvo XC90 T5 Momentum $50,090 $611 % Buy
134 2019 Smart EQ fortwo $24,650 $175 % Lease
135 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan S $24,295 $269 % Lease
136 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti $45,490 $542 % Buy
137 2018 Chevrolet Volt LT $34,095 $367 % Lease
138 2018 Fiat 500e $34,240 $288 % Lease
139 2018 Smart EQ fortwo $24,650 $165 % Lease
140 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom $39,095 $403 % Lease
141 2019 Audi Q7 2.0T Premium $57,265 $671 % Buy
142 2019 Chevrolet Trax LT $24,075 $289 % Buy
143 2019 Buick Encore Preferred $26,470 $270 % Lease
144 2019 GMC Canyon SLE $31,995 $374 % Lease
145 2019 Cadillac ATS-V Preferred $69,665 $809 % Lease
146 2019 Cadillac CTS Preferred $48,865 $549 % Lease
147 2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Luxury $88,965 $1,093 % Buy
148 2019 Cadillac XT5 Preferred $43,565 $483 % Lease
149 2019 Jaguar F-Type 2.0L 296 HP $60,750 $605 % Lease
150 2019 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Plus $30,140 $351 % Lease
151 2019 Jeep Wrangler Sport $35,040 $329 % Lease
152 2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport SE $37,795 $430 % Lease
153 2019 Land Rover Range Rover Velar S P250 $54,400 $670 % Buy
154 2019 Lexus GS 350 F Sport $56,145 $625 % Lease
155 2019 Lexus GX 460 $57,070 $577 % Lease
156 2019 Lexus LS 500 $76,528 $945 % Buy
157 2019 Lexus NX 300 $37,650 $423 % Lease
158 2019 Lexus RXL D $53,198 $577 % Lease
159 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman $69,400 $830 % Buy
160 2019 Ram 1500 BIG Horn $39,430 $385 % Lease
161 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf SE $31,895 $325 % Lease
162 2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack S $27,995 $299 % Lease
163 2019 Volvo S60 T5 Momentum $36,795 $441 % Buy

My Recommendation for Car Shoppers

TrueCar, Edmunds, and 1-800 Car Show 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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