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Which Cars Better to Lease or Buy

July 16, 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 $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 74.0% Lease
2 2020 Toyota Tundra SR5 $44,675 $488 70.0% Lease
3 2020 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E $43,140 $421 67.0% Lease
4 2020 Toyota RAV4 LE $28,829 $305 65.0% Lease
5 2019 Nissan Frontier SV SWB $34,385 $359 64.0% Lease
6 2020 Toyota Highlander LE $39,838 $421 64.0% Lease
7 2020 Honda Passport EX-L $39,530 $406 64.0% Lease
8 2020 Toyota 4Runner SR5 $40,714 $478 63.0% Buy
9 2020 Kia Telluride LX $33,060 $398 63.0% Buy
10 2020 Honda HR-V LX $22,040 $256 62.0% Lease
11 2019 Toyota Mirai Mirai $59,609 $466 62.0% Lease
12 2020 Honda CR-V LX $26,270 $313 62.0% Buy
13 2020 Mini Clubman Cooper S $34,750 $384 61.0% Lease
14 2020 Mazda CX-30 ( / ) $23,000 $277 61.0% Buy
15 2020 Subaru Ascent $33,005 $393 60.0% Buy
16 2020 Honda Civic LX $21,755 $256 60.0% Buy
17 2020 Hyundai Sonata $24,575 $271 60.0% Lease
18 2020 BMW i8 $152,195 $1,756 59.0% Lease
19 2020 Toyota C?HR LE $23,114 $246 59.0% Lease
20 2020 BMW 2 Series 228i xDrive Gran Coupe $40,745 $460 59.0% Lease
21 2020 BMW 4 Series 430i Gran Coupe $47,395 $528 59.0% Lease
22 2020 BMW Z4 sDrive30i $52,695 $596 59.0% Lease
23 2020 Toyota Prius Prime LE $28,789 $285 59.0% Lease
24 2020 Honda Pilot EX-L $39,080 $395 59.0% Lease
25 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe $27,415 $284 59.0% Lease
26 2020 BMW M4 $72,795 $896 59.0% Buy
27 2020 BMW 3 Series 330i $44,645 $545 59.0% Buy
28 2020 BMW 5 Series 530e $56,395 $656 59.0% Lease
29 2021 Kia Seltos LX $23,110 $268 59.0% Lease
30 2020 Mazda CX-9 ( / ) $34,990 $356 58.8% Lease
31 2020 Subaru Impreza Base $20,895 $252 58.0% Buy
32 2020 Mini Countryman Cooper $29,250 $355 58.0% Buy
33 2020 Subaru Outback Base $27,655 $310 58.0% Lease
34 2020 Acura RDX $38,825 $437 58.0% Lease
35 2020 Hyundai Nexo Fuel Cell $59,875 $452 58.0% Lease
36 2019 Hyundai Nexo Fuel Cell $59,395 $471 58.0% Lease
37 2020 BMW i3 $47,395 $402 58.0% Lease
38 2020 Mini Cooper Hardtop 2 Door $24,250 $277 58.0% Lease
39 2020 Mercedes CLA 250 $39,295 $484 58.0% Buy
40 2020 Honda Odyssey 10 Speed EX $35,910 $434 57.0% Buy
41 2020 Honda Accord LX $25,225 $312 57.0% Buy
42 2020 Toyota Corolla LE $21,254 $246 57.0% Lease
43 2020 Mercedes GLA 250 $37,145 $413 57.0% Lease
44 2020 Toyota GR Supra GR Supra 3.0 Premium $56,140 $652 57.0% Lease
45 2020 Nissan TITAN S CC $43,990 $498 57.0% Lease
46 2020 Nissan LEAF S $32,525 $258 57.0% Lease
47 2020 Acura ILX $26,925 $310 56.0% Lease
48 2020 Hyundai Kona $23,240 $266 56.0% Lease
49 2020 Nissan Sentra SV $21,600 $259 56.0% Buy
50 2020 Kia Niro LX $25,710 $296 56.0% Lease
51 2020 BMW X3 sDrive30i $43,995 $542 56.0% Buy
52 2020 Hyundai Tucson $24,690 $278 56.0% Lease
53 2020 Subaru Legacy Base $23,645 $293 56.0% Buy
54 2019 Toyota Highlander XLE $42,658 $498 56.0% Lease
55 2020 BMW X4 xDrive30i $53,145 $658 56.0% Buy
56 2020 Acura MDX $45,525 $481 55.0% Lease
57 2020 Kia Soul LX $20,110 $249 55.0% Buy
58 2020 Mercedes AMG GT $116,895 $1,290 55.0% Lease
59 2020 Toyota Camry LE $26,054 $285 55.0% Lease
60 2020 Mazda CX-5 ( / ) $26,290 $309 54.8% Buy
61 2020 Kia Forte LXS $20,255 $210 54.0% Lease
62 2020 Mazda Mazda3 $22,420 $263 54.0% Buy
63 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport S $26,715 $327 53.0% Buy
64 2020 Lincoln Continental Standard $47,300 $556 53.0% Buy
65 2020 Mazda Mazda6 ( / ) $25,045 $284 52.8% Lease
66 2020 Infiniti QX50 Luxe $41,275 $476 52.0% Lease
67 2020 Genesis G80 $43,545 $534 52.0% Buy
68 2020 Mercedes S-Class S 450 $98,995 $1,171 52.0% Buy
69 2020 Nissan Murano S $33,710 $368 52.0% Lease
70 2020 Kia Sorento LX $29,210 $330 51.0% Lease
71 2019 Hyundai Tucson $24,445 $275 51.0% Lease
72 2020 Kia Optima LX $24,355 $253 51.0% Lease
73 2020 Genesis G90 $73,195 $855 51.0% Lease
74 2020 Hyundai Elantra $20,275 $205 50.0% Lease
75 2020 Acura TLX $34,025 $364 50.0% Lease
76 2020 Kia Niro EV EX $40,210 $421 50.0% Lease
77 2020 Hyundai Kona Ev $38,330 $412 49.0% Lease
78 2020 Infiniti QX60 Pure $45,375 $481 49.0% Lease
79 2020 Nissan Rogue S $28,205 $348 48.0% Buy
80 2019 Hyundai Ioniq $26,305 $284 48.0% Lease
81 2020 Infiniti Q50 3.0t Luxe $39,875 $431 48.0% Lease
82 2020 Nissan Maxima S $35,745 $424 48.0% Buy
83 2020 Nissan Pathfinder S $34,900 $398 48.0% Lease
84 2020 Hyundai Ioniq $34,020 $312 48.0% Lease
85 2019 Hyundai Sonata $23,580 $263 48.0% Lease
86 2020 Hyundai Elantra Gt $21,625 $257 47.0% Buy
87 2020 Genesis G70 2.0T Standard $36,445 $388 47.0% Lease
88 2020 Kia Stinger GT-Line $34,125 $382 47.0% Lease
89 2019 Nissan LEAF S $30,915 $316 46.0% Lease
90 2019 Kia Niro EV EX $39,620 $374 46.0% Lease
91 2020 Ford Edge SE $32,345 $375 46.0% Lease
92 2019 Hyundai Kona $38,045 $428 44.0% Lease
93 2019 Hyundai Elantra Gt $21,380 $249 43.0% Lease
94 2019 Ford Flex SE $31,670 $363 43.0% Lease
95 2020 Ford EcoSport S $21,240 $256 39.0% Buy
96 2020 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium $36,195 $428 38.0% Buy
97 2019 Ford EcoSport S $21,090 $257 33.0% Buy
98 2020 Cadillac CT6 Luxury $60,865 $735 % Buy
99 2020 Audi A4 45 Premium $43,395 $473 % Lease
100 2020 Lexus RXL D $59,315 $645 % Lease
101 2020 Jaguar E-Pace SE P250 $43,700 $499 % Lease
102 2020 GMC Canyon SLE $38,170 $390 % Lease
103 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque SE $47,200 $495 % Lease
104 2020 Chevrolet Colorado LT $35,275 $363 % Lease
105 2020 Lexus LC 500 $101,880 $1,225 % Buy
106 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe LT $57,675 $643 % Lease
107 2019 Dodge Journey Crossroad $29,840 $347 % Lease
108 2020 Volvo V90 T5 R-Design $53,840 $608 % Lease
109 2020 Jeep Renegade Latitude $27,390 $279 % Lease
110 2019 Maserati Ghibli $76,475 $910 % Buy
111 2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Luxury $88,965 $1,104 % Buy
112 2020 Audi A6 45 Premium $57,195 $663 % Lease
113 2020 Jaguar F-Type 2.0L 296 HP $74,200 $624 % Lease
114 2020 GMC Terrain SLE $30,470 $312 % Lease
115 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Velar S P250 $56,300 $639 % Lease
116 2020 Lexus LX 570 3-row $98,365 $1,031 % Lease
117 2020 Chevrolet Trax LT $25,070 $217 % Lease
118 2019 Fiat 500X Trekking $27,740 $340 % Buy
119 2020 Volvo XC40 T4 Momentum $34,695 $426 % Buy
120 2020 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock $40,490 $429 % Lease
121 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock $39,940 $422 % Lease
122 2020 Cadillac XT5 Luxury $45,965 $509 % Lease
123 2019 Audi A5 Sportback 2.0T Premium $45,195 $497 % Lease
124 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan S - Transmission $24,945 $284 % Lease
125 2020 Audi e-tron Premium Plus $78,395 $925 % Buy
126 2020 Jaguar XE S P250 $41,900 $466 % Lease
127 2020 Lexus GS 350 F Sport $56,500 $655 % Lease
128 2020 Volkswagen Atlas S $31,545 $381 % Buy
129 2020 Lexus RC 350 F Sport $56,240 $684 % Buy
130 2020 Volvo XC90 T5 Momentum $50,740 $621 % Buy
131 2020 Buick Encore Preferred $26,470 $261 % Lease
132 2020 Chevrolet Blazer LT $33,175 $295 % Lease
133 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander ES 2.4 $27,430 $316 % Lease
134 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom $41,990 $339 % Lease
135 2019 Audi e-tron Premium Plus $75,795 $795 % Lease
136 2020 Volvo S90 T6 Momentum $52,190 $581 % Lease
137 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera $117,690 $1,440 % Buy
138 2020 Jeep Compass Latitude $27,120 $327 % Buy
139 2020 Buick Envision Preferred $35,570 $333 % Lease
140 2020 Lexus IS 300 $40,355 $412 % Lease
141 2020 Audi A3 2.0T Premium $34,895 $429 % Buy
142 2020 Lexus RX 350 $47,315 $518 % Lease
143 2020 GMC Acadia SLE $35,870 $337 % Lease
144 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC $38,470 $366 % Lease
145 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport S $41,500 $495 % Buy
146 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf SEL Premium Transmission $38,895 $397 % Lease
147 2020 Chevrolet Suburban LT $60,375 $729 % Buy
148 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 $46,095 $526 % Lease
149 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo E $35,495 $419 % Buy
150 2020 Cadillac Escalade Luxury $85,965 $1,062 % Buy
151 2020 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4T S Ulev $19,695 $235 % Buy
152 2020 Lexus UX 200 $34,925 $384 % Lease
153 2020 Jaguar F-Pace Premium 25t $47,800 $548 % Lease
154 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 SLE $47,365 $424 % Lease
155 2020 Chevrolet Equinox LT $29,570 $268 % Lease
156 2020 Chevrolet Traverse LT $36,275 $371 % Lease
157 2020 Ram 1500 BIG Horn $46,080 $471 % Lease
158 2020 Jeep Wrangler Sport $34,790 $375 % Lease
159 2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport $157,895 $1,624 % Lease
160 2020 Cadillac XT4 Luxury $37,565 $464 % Buy
161 2019 Audi A4 2.0T Premium $42,995 $477 % Lease
162 2020 Volkswagen Passat S $22,995 $271 % Buy
163 2020 GMC Yukon SLE $55,770 $572 % Lease
164 2020 Lexus ES 350 $41,290 $460 % Lease
165 2020 Volkswagen Arteon SE $35,995 $394 % Lease
166 2020 Chevrolet Malibu LT $28,370 $294 % Lease
167 2020 Lexus NX 300 $39,118 $413 % Lease
168 2020 Volvo XC60 T5 Momentum $41,895 $513 % Buy
169 2019 Maserati Quattroporte S $109,675 $1,342 % Buy
170 2020 Buick Enclave Essence $44,070 $441 % Lease
171 2020 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury $54,565 $616 % Lease
172 2019 Audi A6 45 Premium $55,095 $638 % Lease
173 2020 Volvo S60 T5 Momentum $37,045 $391 % Lease
174 2020 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Plus $30,590 $353 % Lease
175 2020 Buick Encore GX Preferred $25,970 $308 % Buy
176 2020 Lexus GX 460 Premium $58,435 $616 % Lease
177 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport S $30,545 $368 % Buy
178 2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio $44,695 $534 % Buy
179 2020 Land Rover Discovery SE $52,300 $649 % Buy
180 2020 Chevrolet Bolt LT $38,245 $278 % Lease
181 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC $38,900 $386 % Lease
182 2020 Jeep Gladiator Sport $37,040 $382 % Lease
183 2019 Jeep Renegade Latitude $27,120 $324 % Buy

My Recommendation for Car Shoppers

TrueCar, RydeShopper, and CarsDirect are the best 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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