RealCarTips Logo

Which Cars Better to Lease or Buy

November 29, 2018

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, with a residual value of 76% over 3 years. With an MSRP of $31,704, that means it will depreciate by only $7,608 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 SR $31,704 $324 76.0% Lease
2 2018 Toyota Tacoma SR5 $35,813 $392 71.0% Lease
3 2018 Nissan Frontier SV 4x4 AT SWB $32,575 $404 64.0% Buy
4 2018 Toyota Mirai Mirai $59,325 $427 64.0% Lease
5 2019 Honda Civic Si Sedan 6 Speed Manual $25,195 $309 64.0% Buy
6 2019 Honda Civic Si Coupe 6 Speed Manual $25,195 $309 63.0% Buy
7 2019 Toyota Highlander LE $32,644 $392 63.0% Buy
8 2018 Toyota Tundra SR5 $39,524 $431 63.0% Lease
9 2019 Subaru Ascent 8-passenger $32,970 $403 63.0% Buy
10 2019 Subaru Forester Forester $25,270 $297 62.0% Buy
11 2019 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i 6MT $22,870 $284 61.0% Buy
12 2019 BMW 3 Series 330i xDrive Sports Wagon $47,395 $548 61.0% Lease
13 2019 Acura ILX 8 Speed Dual-Clutch $26,895 $316 60.0% Buy
14 2018 BMW 3 Series 320i Sedan $38,695 $451 60.0% Lease
15 2019 Infiniti QX60 PURE $44,995 $481 60.0% Lease
16 2019 Acura MDX 9 Speed $45,295 $505 60.0% Lease
17 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe NULL $26,480 $310 59.1% Buy
18 2019 Honda Civic Coupe Continuously Variable Transmission LX $21,545 $264 59.0% Buy
19 2018 Toyota Sequoia SR5 $53,120 $634 59.0% Buy
20 2018 BMW X2 X2 sDrive28i $39,295 $475 59.0% Buy
21 2018 BMW X6 X6 sDrive35i $65,645 $812 59.0% Buy
22 2019 Kia Niro LX $24,740 $296 59.0% Buy
23 2019 Subaru Outback 2.5i $27,320 $323 59.0% Buy
24 2019 Mercedes CLA CLA 250 Coupe $35,895 $445 58.0% Buy
25 2018 BMW i3 BMW i3 $47,745 $458 58.0% Lease
26 2019 Infiniti QX50 LUXE $40,395 $469 58.0% Lease
27 2019 Mercedes C-Class C 300 Sedan $43,995 $524 58.0% Buy
28 2019 Mazda CX-5 Sport $25,345 $307 58.0% Buy
29 2018 Nissan Armada SV 4x4 $50,695 $522 57.0% Lease
30 2019 Mercedes GLA GLA 250 SUV $36,745 $452 57.0% Buy
31 2018 Honda CR-V Continuously Variable Transmission 2WD LX $25,245 $307 57.0% Buy
32 2019 Subaru Impreza 2.0i 4D 5MT $19,480 $225 57.0% Lease
33 2019 Mazda CX-9 Sport $33,275 $405 57.0% Buy
34 2018 Honda Civic Si Sedan 6 Speed Manual $24,995 $289 57.0% Lease
35 2018 Mercedes CLA CLA 250 Coupe $35,495 $425 57.0% Buy
36 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback SE $22,364 $266 56.0% Buy
37 2018 Mercedes C-Class C 300 Sedan $42,495 $506 56.0% Buy
38 2018 Subaru Impreza 2.0i 4D 5MT $19,355 $196 56.0% Lease
39 2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid Hybrid LE $29,344 $343 56.0% Buy
40 2018 Mercedes GLA GLA 250 SUV $36,195 $422 56.0% Lease
41 2018 Subaru Forester 2.5i 6MT $23,710 $271 56.0% Lease
42 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Xl NULL $31,830 $360 55.1% Lease
43 2019 Toyota Camry LE $25,534 $305 55.0% Buy
44 2019 Infiniti Q50 3.0t LUXE $39,295 $407 55.0% Lease
45 2018 Honda Civic Si Coupe 6 Speed Manual $24,995 $289 55.0% Lease
46 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Hybrid XLE $38,643 $468 55.0% Buy
47 2018 Honda Civic Hatchback Continuously Variable Transmission LX $21,845 $264 55.0% Buy
48 2019 Kia Forte LXS $19,985 $234 55.0% Lease
49 2019 Mazda CX-3 Sport $21,385 $259 55.0% Buy
50 2018 Mazda CX-9 Sport $33,125 $365 55.0% Lease
51 2018 Lincoln Continental Premiere $46,155 $568 54.0% Buy
52 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid XLE Hybrid AWD-i $30,415 $334 54.0% Lease
53 2018 Mazda CX-5 Sport $25,145 $278 54.0% Lease
54 2018 Nissan Titan SV KC 4x2 $38,445 $382 54.0% Lease
55 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe SE $31,830 $337 54.0% Lease
56 2019 Toyota C-HR LE $22,198 $266 54.0% Buy
57 2018 Honda Civic Sedan Continuously Variable Transmission LX $20,635 $245 54.0% Buy
58 2018 Lincoln MKX Premiere $39,960 $461 53.0% Lease
59 2018 Kia Niro LX $24,590 $287 53.0% Lease
60 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid LX $29,140 $335 53.0% Lease
61 2019 Acura TLX 8 Speed Dual-Clutch $33,995 $368 53.0% Lease
62 2019 Kia Sportage LX $24,745 $287 53.0% Lease
63 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid Hybrid LE $28,949 $314 53.0% Lease
64 2018 Toyota RAV4 LE $27,354 $285 52.0% Lease
65 2018 Honda Civic Coupe Continuously Variable Transmission LX $21,045 $245 52.0% Lease
66 2018 Toyota Camry LE $25,119 $285 52.0% Lease
67 2019 Kia Sorento LX $28,480 $316 52.0% Lease
68 2018 Lincoln MKZ Premiere $36,530 $411 52.0% Lease
69 2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid LX $28,840 $321 52.0% Lease
70 2018 Subaru WRX WRX 6MT $27,855 $339 52.0% Buy
71 2019 Kia Optima LX $23,820 $277 52.0% Lease
72 2018 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 4dr Sdn $26,385 $321 52.0% Buy
73 2018 Nissan Murano S $32,210 $382 52.0% Buy
74 2019 Infiniti Q70L Q70L 3.7 LUXE LWB $52,795 $573 52.0% Lease
75 2019 Kia Optima Hybrid NULL $28,905 $335 52.0% Lease
76 2018 Genesis G80 NULL $42,745 $518 51.0% Buy
77 2018 Nissan Pathfinder S AWD $34,135 $374 51.0% Lease
78 2018 Hyundai Kona NULL $22,130 $270 51.0% Buy
79 2018 Hyundai Sonata 4dr Sdn SE $22,935 $264 51.0% Lease
80 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid NULL $23,085 $278 51.0% Buy
81 2018 Ford Expedition XLT $53,085 $637 51.0% Buy
82 2019 Kia Stinger 2.0L $33,895 $398 51.0% Buy
83 2018 Mazda Mazda6 Sport $23,895 $260 51.0% Lease
84 2018 Hyundai Tucson NULL $23,530 $246 51.0% Lease
85 2018 Nissan Rogue S AWD $27,580 $302 50.0% Lease
86 2019 Infiniti Q70 3.7 LUXE $51,295 $553 50.0% Lease
87 2018 Nissan Rogue Sport S AWD $24,990 $261 50.0% Lease
88 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug In Hybrid NULL $25,835 $317 50.0% Buy
89 2018 Toyota Sienna LE $34,785 $412 49.0% Buy
90 2019 Kia Cadenza $33,800 $407 49.0% Buy
91 2018 Acura ILX 8 Speed Dual-Clutch $29,095 $263 49.0% Lease
92 2019 Ford Flex SE $31,570 $387 49.0% Buy
93 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.4L $25,930 $281 49.0% Lease
94 2018 Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback Sport $21,290 $258 48.0% Buy
95 2019 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid NULL $36,210 $364 48.0% Lease
96 2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t LUXE $40,145 $407 48.0% Lease
97 2018 Kia Stinger 2.0L $32,800 $388 48.0% Buy
98 2018 Ford EcoSport S $20,990 $212 47.0% Lease
99 2018 Ford Flex SE $31,280 $350 47.0% Lease
100 2018 Mazda Mazda3 Sedan Sport $20,040 $239 46.0% 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

Each week, I'll keep you up-to-date on the latest car deals and news that might affect your purchase. This includes...
  • Best Rebates, Incentives, and Lease Deals
  • Latest Car Buying Scams and Tricks
  • The Best & Worst Time to Buy a Car
  • Which Cars You Should Avoid
Enter Your Email Below

(Absolutely NO SPAM, easy to unsubscribe)
×

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.

Latest Weekly Car Buying Tips    RSS Feed

December 6, 2018
November 29, 2018
November 22, 2018
November 15, 2018
November 8, 2018
November 1, 2018
October 25, 2018
October 18, 2018
October 11, 2018
October 4, 2018
September 27, 2018
September 20, 2018
September 13, 2018
September 6, 2018
August 30, 2018
August 23, 2018
August 16, 2018
August 9, 2018
August 2, 2018
July 26, 2018
July 19, 2018
July 12, 2018
July 5, 2018
June 28, 2018
June 21, 2018
June 14, 2018
June 7, 2018
I welcome your car buying questions. Email Me and I'll be glad to answer them!