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Which Cars Better to Lease or Buy

June 18, 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 75% over 3 years. With an MSRP of $36,687, that means it will depreciate by only about $9,000 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 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 $36,687 $353 75.0% Lease
2 2020 Toyota Tundra SR5 $42,495 $449 71.0% Lease
3 2020 Toyota RAV4 LE $28,829 $305 66.0% Lease
4 2020 Toyota Highlander LE $39,838 $431 65.0% Lease
5 2019 Nissan Frontier SV SWB $34,385 $358 65.0% Lease
6 2020 Honda Passport EX-L $37,530 $387 65.0% Lease
7 2020 Kia Telluride LX $33,060 $398 63.0% Buy
8 2020 Toyota 4Runner SR5 $40,714 $478 63.0% Buy
9 2020 Honda HR-V LX $21,940 $256 63.0% Lease
10 2019 Toyota Mirai Mirai $59,609 $466 62.0% Lease
11 2020 Honda Civic Sport $24,605 $253 62.0% Lease
12 2020 Honda CR-V LX $26,170 $313 62.0% Buy
13 2020 BMW 5 Series 530e $56,395 $661 61.0% Buy
14 2020 Mini Clubman Cooper S $34,750 $413 61.0% Buy
15 2019 Ford Ranger XL $25,495 $299 61.0% Buy
16 2020 Subaru Ascent $33,005 $393 61.0% Buy
17 2020 Hyundai Sonata 4-CYL Transmission $24,575 $281 61.0% Lease
18 2020 BMW M4 $72,795 $896 60.0% Buy
19 2020 BMW 3 Series 330i $44,645 $545 60.0% Buy
20 2020 Toyota C-HR LE $23,322 $246 60.0% Lease
21 2020 Honda Pilot EX $35,650 $368 60.0% Lease
22 2020 Toyota Prius Prime LE $28,789 $275 60.0% Lease
23 2020 Hyundai Ioniq Hev 4-CYL Transmission $24,175 $282 60.0% Lease
24 2020 BMW 4 Series 430i Gran Coupe $47,395 $528 60.0% Lease
25 2020 Mazda CX-30 ( / ) $23,000 $283 59.0% Buy
26 2021 Kia Seltos S $23,110 $268 59.0% Lease
27 2020 Subaru Impreza Base $20,895 $230 59.0% Lease
28 2020 Subaru Outback Base $27,655 $310 59.0% Lease
29 2020 Acura RDX $38,825 $437 59.0% Lease
30 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe 4-CYL Transmission $27,415 $284 59.0% Lease
31 2020 BMW i8 $152,195 $1,795 59.0% Buy
32 2020 BMW Z4 sDrive30i $52,695 $625 59.0% Buy
33 2020 Mazda CX-9 ( / ) $34,990 $364 58.8% Lease
34 2020 BMW i3 $47,395 $412 58.0% Lease
35 2020 Nissan TITAN S CC $43,990 $507 58.0% Lease
36 2020 Mercedes CLA 250 $39,295 $484 58.0% Buy
37 2020 Honda Odyssey 10 Speed EX $35,910 $434 58.0% Buy
38 2020 Toyota Corolla LE $21,254 $246 58.0% Lease
39 2020 Nissan Sentra $21,600 $259 58.0% Buy
40 2019 Toyota Highlander LE $36,554 $343 58.0% Lease
41 2019 Mercedes A-Class A 220 $34,045 $407 58.0% Buy
42 2020 Honda Accord LX $24,975 $298 58.0% Buy
43 2020 Toyota GR Supra GR Supra 3.0 Premium $56,140 $652 58.0% Lease
44 2020 Acura ILX $26,925 $300 57.0% Lease
45 2020 Hyundai Kona 4-CYL Transmission $23,240 $275 57.0% Buy
46 2020 Subaru Legacy Base $23,645 $293 57.0% Buy
47 2020 Mercedes GLA 250 $37,145 $413 57.0% Lease
48 2020 Acura TLX $34,025 $391 57.0% Lease
49 2020 Kia Sportage LX $25,110 $285 56.0% Lease
50 2020 Hyundai Tucson 4-CYL Transmission $24,690 $278 56.0% Lease
51 2020 Acura MDX $45,525 $481 56.0% Lease
52 2019 Mercedes CLA 250 $35,895 $396 56.0% Lease
53 2020 Mercedes AMG GT $116,895 $1,290 55.0% Lease
54 2020 Hyundai Ioniq Phev 4-CYL Transmission $27,475 $325 55.0% Buy
55 2020 Kia Forte LXS $20,255 $224 55.0% Lease
56 2020 Infiniti QX50 Luxe $41,275 $476 55.0% Lease
57 2020 Lincoln Nautilus Standard $42,035 $516 55.0% Buy
58 2019 Mercedes GLA 250 $36,745 $413 55.0% Lease
59 2020 Toyota Camry LE $26,054 $285 55.0% Lease
60 2020 Kia Soul LX $20,110 $249 55.0% Buy
61 2019 Mercedes E-Class E 300 $54,495 $652 55.0% Buy
62 2020 Mazda CX-5 ( / ) $26,290 $316 54.8% Buy
63 2020 Nissan Murano S $33,710 $396 54.0% Buy
64 2019 Kia Niro LX $25,020 $277 54.0% Lease
65 2020 Lincoln Continental Standard $47,300 $556 54.0% Buy
66 2020 Mazda Mazda3 $22,420 $263 54.0% Buy
67 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport S $26,715 $329 54.0% Buy
68 2020 Mazda Mazda6 ( / ) $25,045 $282 52.8% Lease
69 2020 Mercedes S-Class S 450 $98,995 $1,202 52.0% Buy
70 2020 Kia Optima LX $24,355 $253 52.0% Lease
71 2019 Hyundai Tucson 4-CYL Transmission $24,445 $275 52.0% Lease
72 2020 Toyota Avalon XLE $38,014 $441 52.0% Lease
73 2019 Mercedes GLS 450 4MATIC $74,975 $921 52.0% Buy
74 2020 Kia Sorento LX $29,210 $330 51.0% Lease
75 2019 Mercedes S-Class S 450 $97,245 $1,182 51.0% Buy
76 2020 Infiniti QX60 Pure $45,375 $481 51.0% Lease
77 2019 Lincoln Nautilus Standard $41,335 $451 51.0% Lease
78 2020 Hyundai Elantra 4-CYL Transmission $20,275 $205 51.0% Lease
79 2020 Kia Niro EV EX $40,210 $441 51.0% Lease
80 2020 Infiniti Q50 3.0t Luxe $39,875 $441 50.0% Lease
81 2020 Nissan Rogue S $28,205 $348 49.0% Buy
82 2019 Hyundai Sonata 4-CYL Transmission $23,580 $263 49.0% Lease
83 2020 Nissan Maxima S $35,745 $424 49.0% Buy
84 2020 Nissan Pathfinder S $34,900 $417 49.0% Buy
85 2020 Hyundai Ioniq Ev Transmission $34,020 $312 48.0% Lease
86 2019 Kia Niro EV EX $39,620 $393 48.0% Lease
87 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Plugin Transmission $26,305 $284 48.0% Lease
88 2019 Lincoln MKZ Standard $36,990 $411 48.0% Lease
89 2020 Hyundai Elantra Gt 4-CYL Transmission $21,625 $257 48.0% Buy
90 2020 Kia Stinger GT-Line $34,125 $382 48.0% Lease
91 2020 Genesis G70 2.0T Standard $36,445 $415 47.0% Lease
92 2020 Hyundai Kona Ev Transmission $38,330 $431 46.0% Lease
93 2019 Hyundai Sonata Plugin Transmission $34,355 $295 46.0% Lease
94 2019 Hyundai Kona Transmission $38,045 $428 45.0% Lease
95 2019 Hyundai Elantra Gt 4-CYL Transmission $21,380 $249 44.0% Lease
96 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Transmission $31,245 $175 44.0% Lease
97 2019 Ford Flex SE $31,670 $364 44.0% Lease
98 2020 Ford Fusion S $24,365 $295 43.0% Buy
99 2020 Nissan LEAF S $32,525 $337 43.0% Lease
100 2020 Ford EcoSport SE $24,695 $294 43.0% Buy
101 2019 Ford EcoSport SE $24,245 $278 40.0% Lease
102 2020 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium $36,195 $402 39.0% Lease
103 2019 Nissan LEAF S $30,915 $327 36.0% Lease
104 2019 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium $35,590 $347 31.0% Lease
105 2020 Jaguar E-Pace SE P250 $43,700 $499 % Lease
106 2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport $157,895 $1,518 % Lease
107 2020 GMC Acadia SLE $35,870 $306 % Lease
108 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti $46,040 $499 % Lease
109 2020 Chevrolet Blazer LT $33,175 $314 % Lease
110 2020 Volvo S60 T5 Momentum $37,045 $391 % Lease
111 2020 Lexus RXL D $59,315 $645 % Lease
112 2020 Jeep Renegade Latitude $27,390 $273 % Lease
113 2020 Buick Envision Preferred $35,570 $315 % Lease
114 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport S $30,545 $365 % Buy
115 2020 Lexus LC 500 $101,553 $1,235 % Buy
116 2020 Chevrolet Suburban LT $60,375 $709 % Buy
117 2020 Jaguar F-Type 2.0L 296 HP $74,200 $634 % Lease
118 2019 Maserati Quattroporte S $109,675 $1,255 % Lease
119 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 SLE $47,365 $428 % Lease
120 2019 Audi A5 Sportback 2.0T Premium $45,195 $496 % Lease
121 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque SE $47,200 $495 % Lease
122 2020 Audi A4 45 Premium $43,395 $497 % Lease
123 2020 Cadillac Escalade Luxury $85,965 $1,062 % Buy
124 2019 Fiat 500X Trekking $27,740 $340 % Buy
125 2020 Lexus LX 570 3-row $98,365 $1,031 % Lease
126 2020 Chevrolet Traverse LT $36,275 $389 % Lease
127 2020 Jaguar XE S P250 $41,900 $466 % Lease
128 2020 GMC Yukon SLE $55,770 $539 % Lease
129 2019 Audi e-tron Premium Plus $76,585 $785 % Lease
130 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Velar S P250 $56,300 $668 % Buy
131 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC $38,900 $386 % Lease
132 2020 Chevrolet Equinox LT $29,570 $297 % Lease
133 2020 Volvo V90 T5 R-Design $53,840 $668 % Buy
134 2020 Audi A6 45 Premium $57,195 $691 % Buy
135 2020 Cadillac XT4 Luxury $37,565 $464 % Buy
136 2020 Lexus RC 350 F Sport $56,240 $693 % Buy
137 2020 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock $40,490 $429 % Lease
138 2020 Jeep Compass Latitude $27,120 $327 % Buy
139 2020 Buick Enclave Essence $44,070 $385 % Lease
140 2020 Lexus GS 350 F Sport $56,500 $655 % Lease
141 2020 Chevrolet Malibu LT $28,370 $301 % Lease
142 2020 Volvo XC40 T4 Momentum $34,695 $426 % Buy
143 2019 Maserati Ghibli $76,475 $860 % Lease
144 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti $44,040 $451 % Lease
145 2020 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury $54,565 $616 % Lease
146 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan S - Transmission $24,945 $281 % Lease
147 2020 Lexus RX 350 $47,315 $548 % Lease
148 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo E $37,390 $402 % Lease
149 2020 Buick Encore gx Preferred $25,970 $310 % Buy
150 2019 Dodge Journey Crossroad $29,840 $347 % Lease
151 2020 Lexus IS 300 $40,355 $412 % Lease
152 2020 Volvo XC90 T5 Momentum $50,740 $621 % Buy
153 2020 Jaguar F-Pace Premium 25t $47,800 $548 % Lease
154 2019 Maserati Levante $77,475 $938 % Buy
155 2020 GMC Canyon SLE $38,070 $406 % Lease
156 2019 Audi A4 2.0T Premium $42,995 $477 % Lease
157 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC $38,470 $386 % Lease
158 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport S $41,500 $495 % Buy
159 2020 Chevrolet Bolt LT $38,245 $319 % Lease
160 2020 Audi A3 2.0T Premium $34,895 $429 % Buy
161 2020 Lexus UX 200 $34,925 $384 % Lease
162 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera $117,690 $1,440 % Buy
163 2020 Jeep Wrangler Sport $34,790 $390 % Lease
164 2020 Cadillac CT6 Luxury $60,865 $735 % Buy
165 2019 Fiat 500e $34,705 $288 % Lease
166 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe LT $57,675 $656 % Lease
167 2020 GMC Terrain SLE $30,470 $295 % Lease
168 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander ES 2.4 $27,430 $316 % Lease
169 2020 Chevrolet Colorado LT $35,275 $383 % Lease
170 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 $46,095 $526 % Lease
171 2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Luxury $88,965 $1,104 % Buy
172 2020 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4T S Ulev $19,695 $229 % Lease
173 2020 Lexus NX 300 $38,993 $423 % Lease
174 2020 Chevrolet Trax LT $25,070 $233 % Lease
175 2020 Ram 1500 BIG Horn $42,580 $453 % Lease
176 2020 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Plus $30,590 $353 % Lease
177 2019 Audi Q7 2.0T Premium Plus $58,390 $675 % Lease
178 2020 Lexus ES 350 $41,005 $480 % Lease
179 2020 Cadillac XT5 Luxury $45,965 $508 % Lease
180 2020 Volkswagen Passat S $22,995 $271 % Buy
181 2020 Jeep Gladiator Sport $37,040 $373 % Lease
182 2020 Buick Encore Preferred $26,470 $222 % Lease
183 2020 Volkswagen Arteon SE $35,995 $423 % Buy
184 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock $43,540 $442 % Lease
185 2020 Lexus GX 460 Premium $58,435 $596 % Lease
186 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom $41,990 $363 % Lease
187 2020 Volvo XC60 T5 Momentum $41,895 $513 % Buy
188 2020 Audi Q5 45 Premium $44,295 $548 % Buy

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

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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