These Cars Better to Lease Than Buy
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 2017 Toyota Tacoma SR5 Double Cab, with a residual value of 71% over 3 years. With an MSRP of $34,583, that means it will depreciate by only $10,029 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%.
|Rank||Vehicle||Trim||MSRP||Monthly Payment $0 Down||Term||Annual Miles||Residual %|
|1||2018 Subaru Crosstrek||2.0i 6MT||$22,710||$248||36||12000||71|
|2||2017 Toyota Tacoma||SR5||$34,583||$377||36||12000||71|
|3||2018 Subaru Outback||2.5i||$26,810||$281||36||12000||69|
|4||2017 Subaru Outback||2.5i||$26,520||$271||36||12000||68|
|5||2018 Subaru Forester||2.5i 6MT||$23,710||$261||36||12000||66|
|6||2017 Toyota Highlander||LE||$35,325||$345||36||12000||65|
|7||2017 Subaru Crosstrek||2.0i 5MT||$22,570||$239||36||12000||65|
|8||2017 BMW X4||X4 xDrive28i||$47,945||$588||36||10000||64|
|9||2017 BMW X3||X3 sDrive28i||$42,695||$498||36||10000||64|
|10||2017 Subaru WRX||WRX 6MT||$27,515||$310||36||12000||63|
|11||2017 Subaru Forester||2.5i 6MT||$23,470||$251||36||12000||62|
|12||2017 Honda Fit||CVT LX||$17,765||$202||36||12000||62|
|13||2017 BMW 3 Series||320i Sedan||$37,700||$391||36||10000||62|
|14||2018 Audi Q3 SUV||2.0T||$35,975||$425||36||10000||62|
|15||2018 Subaru WRX||WRX 6MT||$27,855||$328||36||12000||62|
|16||2018 Subaru Legacy||2.5i||$23,055||$252||36||12000||61|
|17||2017 BMW X1||X1 sDrive28i||$37,535||$438||36||10000||61|
|18||2017 Toyota RAV4||XLE Hybrid||$30,060||$300||36||12000||61|
|19||2017 Honda HR-V||CVT 2WD LX||$21,205||$238||36||12000||61|
|20||2017 Honda Civic||Hatchback LX||$21,375||$248||36||12000||61|
|21||2017 BMW 4 Series||430i Coupe||$44,795||$478||36||10000||61|
|22||2017 Mercedes C-Class||C300 Sport Sedan||$41,725||$504||36||10000||60|
|23||2018 Kia Sportage||LX||$24,395||$271||36||12000||60|
|24||2018 Toyota C-HR||XLE||$23,460||$277||36||12000||60|
|25||2018 Volkswagen Tiguan||$26,540||$327||36||12000||60|
|26||2017 Subaru Impreza||2.0i 4D 5MT||$19,215||$213||36||12000||60|
|27||2018 Volkswagen Atlas||Launch Edition||$34,425||$421||36||12000||60|
|28||2017 Honda Civic Sedan||CVT LX||$20,415||$220||36||12000||59|
|29||2017 Toyota RAV4||LE||$27,050||$266||36||12000||59|
|30||2018 Mercedes CLA||CLA250 Coupe||$35,495||$431||36||10000||59|
|31||2017 Mercedes SLC||SLC300 Roadster||$51,375||$633||36||10000||58|
|32||2017 BMW i3||BMW i3 (94 ah)||$47,145||$398||36||10000||58|
|33||2017 Mercedes GLA||GLA250 SUV||$36,525||$431||36||10000||58|
|34||2017 BMW X5||X5 xDrive40e||$66,295||$722||36||10000||58|
|35||2017 Kia Optima||LX||$23,095||$254||24||12000||58|
|36||2017 Nissan Titan||S CC 4x4||$40,610||$439||36||10000||58|
|37||2017 BMW X6||X6 sDrive35i||$65,595||$792||36||10000||58|
|38||2017 Subaru Legacy||2.5i||$22,815||$242||36||12000||58|
|39||2017 Mercedes CLA||CLA250 Coupe||$35,675||$431||36||10000||57|
|40||2018 BMW 4 Series||430i Gran Coupe||$46,975||$578||36||10000||57|
My Recommendation for Car ShoppersTrueCar No-Haggle, Edmunds Price Promise, 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.
California Residents - Important:There is a new online car buying service called Roadster, available only to California residents, which I highly recommend you try - especially if you hate the stress of haggling with a car salesman. They provide an expert concierge who negotiates the price of the car and delivers it to your home with zero hassle - you never have to interact with a dealership. Here is my in-depth review of Roadster and why I recommend it.
- Gregg Fidan
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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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