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Which Cars Better to Lease or Buy

November 26, 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 2021 Toyota Tacoma SR, with a residual value of 83% over 3 years. With an MSRP of $33,838, that means it will depreciate by only about $6,000 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, RydeShopper and CarsDirect 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 2021 Toyota Tacoma SR $33,838 $212 83.0% Lease
2 2020 Toyota Tacoma SR $33,813 $248 81.0% Lease
3 2021 Toyota Tundra SR5 $42,929 $407 73.0% Lease
4 2021 Toyota 4Runner SR5 $40,744 $365 72.0% Lease
5 2020 Toyota Tundra SR5 $47,259 $496 70.0% Lease
6 2021 Toyota Sienna LE $37,855 $423 67.0% Lease
7 2020 Nissan Frontier SV $35,245 $392 67.0% Lease
8 2021 Toyota Highlander LE $40,228 $364 67.0% Lease
9 2021 Toyota Venza LE $33,914 $364 67.0% Lease
10 2020 Honda Ridgeline Sport $37,260 $364 67.0% Lease
11 2021 Toyota RAV4 LE $28,984 $281 67.0% Lease
12 2021 Honda Passport Sport $35,710 $355 66.0% Lease
13 2021 Subaru Ascent $33,345 $409 65.0% Buy
14 2020 Honda CR-V EX $31,480 $359 65.0% Lease
15 2020 Toyota RAV4 LE $27,339 $327 64.0% Buy
16 2021 Mazda CX-30 $23,000 $283 64.0% Buy
17 2021 Toyota C-HR LE $23,114 $251 64.0% Lease
18 2020 Toyota 4Runner SR5 $40,964 $488 64.0% Buy
19 2020 Toyota Highlander L $36,287 $335 64.0% Lease
20 2020 Honda Passport EX-L $39,530 $387 63.0% Lease
21 2021 Honda HR-V LX $22,140 $259 63.0% Lease
22 2020 Honda Fit LX $17,945 $220 63.0% Buy
23 2021 Subaru Outback Base $27,845 $321 63.0% Lease
24 2020 Honda HR-V LX $22,040 $249 62.0% Lease
25 2021 Honda Pilot EX-L $41,480 $410 62.0% Lease
26 2020 Toyota Mirai $59,505 $448 62.0% Lease
27 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime SE 2.5L $39,544 $393 62.0% Lease
28 2021 Hyundai Sonata SE $24,595 $262 62.0% Lease
29 2021 Acura RDX $39,225 $481 61.0% Buy
30 2021 Honda Odyssey EX $36,310 $414 61.0% Lease
31 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 $47,470 $559 61.0% Buy
32 2021 Mini Clubman Cooper S $35,350 $403 61.0% Lease
33 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser Base $87,198 $1,041 61.0% Buy
34 2021 Mazda CX-9 $35,060 $374 61.0% Lease
35 2021 Toyota Corolla 4-Cyl LE $21,479 $203 61.0% Lease
36 2021 Kia K5 LXS $25,455 $287 61.0% Lease
37 2020 Toyota C-HR LE $23,169 $238 60.0% Lease
38 2021 Mercedes GLA 250 $39,030 $475 60.0% Buy
39 2020 Honda Civic LX $21,755 $249 60.0% Lease
40 2021 Infiniti QX50 Pure $38,975 $476 60.0% Buy
41 2021 Kia Seltos LX $23,110 $259 59.0% Lease
42 2021 Hyundai Kona $23,375 $248 59.0% Lease
43 2020 BMW Z4 sDrive30i $52,695 $587 59.0% Lease
44 2021 Toyota Prius Prime LE $29,539 $325 59.0% Lease
45 2020 Mini Clubman Cooper S $34,750 $374 59.0% Lease
46 2021 Hyundai Elantra $20,645 $255 59.0% Buy
47 2021 Nissan TITAN S CC $44,410 $527 59.0% Buy
48 2021 Toyota Prius LE $28,454 $320 59.0% Lease
49 2020 Subaru Ascent $33,005 $393 59.0% Buy
50 2021 BMW 5 Series 530i $55,745 $624 59.0% Lease
51 2021 BMW Z4 sDrive30i $52,395 $645 59.0% Buy
52 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe SE $27,450 $264 59.0% Lease
53 2021 Kia Sportage LX $25,110 $285 58.0% Lease
54 2021 BMW 2 Series 228i xDrive Gran Coupe $40,195 $450 58.0% Lease
55 2020 Honda Accord LX $25,225 $270 58.0% Lease
56 2020 Mazda CX-5 $26,290 $306 58.0% Lease
57 2021 Acura ILX $26,975 $310 58.0% Lease
58 2020 Hyundai Sonata SE $24,595 $232 58.0% Lease
59 2020 BMW 3 Series 330i $44,645 $545 58.0% Buy
60 2021 Hyundai Tucson SE $24,875 $259 58.0% Lease
61 2020 BMW 5 Series 530i $56,395 $651 58.0% Lease
62 2021 Kia Soul LX $20,110 $249 58.0% Buy
63 2021 BMW 3 Series 330i $44,395 $518 58.0% Lease
64 2020 Hyundai Nexo $59,910 $438 58.0% Lease
65 2020 BMW i8 $152,195 $1,756 58.0% Lease
66 2020 BMW 2 Series 228i xDrive Gran Coupe $40,745 $460 58.0% Lease
67 2020 Subaru Impreza Base $20,895 $252 57.0% Buy
68 2020 Mercedes GLA 250 $37,145 $413 57.0% Lease
69 2020 BMW 4 Series 430i $47,595 $548 57.0% Lease
70 2020 Subaru Outback Base $27,655 $310 57.0% Lease
71 2021 BMW X2 sDrive28i $38,745 $480 57.0% Buy
72 2020 Mercedes CLA 250 $39,295 $484 57.0% Buy
73 2020 BMW i3 $47,395 $402 57.0% Lease
74 2020 BMW M4 $72,795 $896 57.0% Buy
75 2020 Toyota Prius Prime LE $29,618 $287 57.0% Lease
76 2020 Honda Odyssey EX $35,910 $385 57.0% Lease
77 2020 Hyundai Venue SE $19,725 $221 57.0% Lease
78 2021 Mazda Mazda3 2.0L $21,445 $253 57.0% Buy
79 2020 Hyundai Kona $23,275 $238 56.9% Lease
80 2020 Hyundai Tucson SE $24,690 $249 56.0% Lease
81 2020 Mini Cooper Hardtop 2 Door $24,250 $287 56.0% Buy
82 2020 Kia Niro LX $25,710 $282 56.0% Lease
83 2020 Nissan TITAN S CC $43,990 $498 56.0% Lease
84 2021 Kia Forte LXS $20,355 $234 56.0% Lease
85 2020 Mercedes E-Class E 350 $55,045 $677 56.0% Buy
86 2020 Mazda Mazda6 $25,045 $273 56.0% Lease
87 2020 Kia Soul LX $20,110 $239 56.0% Buy
88 2020 Mini Countryman Cooper $29,250 $355 56.0% Buy
89 2020 BMW X2 sDrive28i $40,295 $493 56.0% Buy
90 2020 Mercedes C-Class C 300 $43,895 $544 56.0% Buy
91 2021 BMW X3 sDrive30i $45,235 $528 56.0% Lease
92 2021 BMW X4 xDrive30i $54,195 $635 56.0% Buy
93 2021 Toyota Camry LE $27,624 $281 56.0% Lease
94 2020 Kia Sportage LX $25,110 $266 55.0% Lease
95 2020 Mercedes AMG GT $116,895 $1,290 55.0% Lease
96 2020 BMW X3 sDrive30i $43,995 $542 55.0% Buy
97 2020 BMW X4 xDrive30i $53,145 $658 55.0% Buy
98 2020 Nissan Sentra SV $21,710 $262 55.0% Buy
99 2020 BMW X3 M $75,345 $919 55.0% Buy
100 2020 BMW X4 M $77,445 $949 55.0% Buy
101 2020 Acura MDX $45,525 $491 54.0% Lease
102 2020 Subaru Legacy Base $23,645 $293 54.0% Buy
103 2021 Infiniti Q50 Luxe $42,725 $476 54.0% Lease
104 2020 Lincoln Nautilus Standard $42,035 $514 53.0% Buy
105 2020 Kia Forte LXS $20,255 $210 53.0% Lease
106 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport S $26,905 $327 53.0% Buy
107 2020 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium $56,140 $693 53.0% Buy
108 2020 Acura ILX $26,925 $291 53.0% Lease
109 2020 Lincoln Continental Standard $47,300 $555 52.0% Buy
110 2020 Mercedes S-Class S 450 $98,995 $1,171 52.0% Buy
111 2020 Infiniti QX50 Luxe $43,275 $489 52.0% Lease
112 2020 Nissan Murano S $33,910 $368 52.0% Lease
113 2020 Kia Cadenza Technology $38,885 $431 52.0% Lease
114 2020 Mazda Mazda3 2.5L $22,445 $263 52.0% Buy
115 2020 Toyota Camry L $26,054 $293 51.0% Lease
116 2021 Genesis G70 2.0T Standard $37,025 $378 51.0% Lease
117 2020 Kia Sorento LX $29,210 $320 51.0% Lease
118 2021 Kia Stinger GT-Line $34,125 $402 50.0% Buy
119 2021 Hyundai Kona Ev EV $38,365 $392 50.0% Lease
120 2020 Genesis G90 3.3T Premium $73,195 $825 49.0% Lease
121 2020 Hyundai Ioniq EV $34,040 $225 49.0% Lease
122 2020 Infiniti Q50 Edition 30 $44,725 $460 49.0% Lease
123 2020 Nissan Rogue S $28,395 $348 49.0% Buy
124 2020 Kia Niro EV EX $40,210 $355 49.0% Lease
125 2020 Nissan Pathfinder S $35,200 $398 48.0% Lease
126 2020 Nissan Maxima S $35,945 $424 48.0% Buy
127 2020 Hyundai Elantra $20,295 $195 48.0% Lease
128 2020 Infiniti QX60 Pure $45,375 $462 48.0% Lease
129 2020 Hyundai Kona Ev EV $38,365 $343 46.0% Lease
130 2020 Genesis G70 2.0T Standard $36,445 $330 46.0% Lease
131 2020 Hyundai Elantra Gt $21,645 $257 46.0% Buy
132 2019 Hyundai Sonata $34,355 $237 45.0% Lease
133 2020 Ford Edge SE $32,345 $388 45.0% Buy
134 2020 Kia Stinger GT-Line $34,125 $373 45.0% Lease
135 2019 Kia Niro EV EX $39,620 $321 45.0% Lease
136 2020 Nissan LEAF S $32,525 $217 44.0% Lease
137 2020 Honda Clarity $34,355 $359 44.0% Lease
138 2020 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium $36,195 $420 38.0% Lease
139 2020 Jeep Wrangler Sport $34,790 $384 % Lease
140 2021 Jaguar F-Type 2.0L P300 $61,600 $702 % Lease
141 2020 Lexus ES 350 $41,290 $431 % Lease
142 2019 Audi A5 Sportback 2.0T Premium $45,195 $491 % Lease
143 2021 Chevrolet Colorado LT $35,375 $313 % Lease
144 2020 Buick Envision Preferred $35,570 $323 % Lease
145 2021 Lexus ES 250 $45,355 $441 % Lease
146 2020 Audi A8 L 55 $89,745 $1,083 % Buy
147 2020 Chrysler Pacifica Limited $47,340 $457 % Lease
148 2020 Jaguar E-Pace SE P250 $43,700 $489 % Lease
149 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan S $25,245 $299 % Buy
150 2021 Cadillac CT4 Premium Luxury $39,465 $444 % Lease
151 2020 Lexus RX 350 $47,025 $491 % Lease
152 2020 Chevrolet Equinox LT $28,375 $265 % Lease
153 2021 Lexus UX 200 $34,785 $403 % Lease
154 2020 Dodge Charger SXT $35,090 $430 % Buy
155 2021 Jeep Compass Latitude $28,890 $271 % Lease
156 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali $57,570 $471 % Lease
157 2020 Lexus GX 460 Premium $58,435 $596 % Lease
158 2019 Audi e-tron Premium Plus $75,795 $775 % Lease
159 2021 Chevrolet Malibu LT $27,595 $285 % Lease
160 2020 Cadillac CT5 Luxury $38,765 $475 % Buy
161 2021 Lexus IS 300 $40,450 $441 % Lease
162 2021 Audi A4 45 S line Premium $43,745 $539 % Buy
163 2021 Hyundai Venue IVT $19,925 $221 % Lease
164 2021 Cadillac XT4 Luxury $37,665 $370 % Lease
165 2020 Lexus UX 200 $34,115 $374 % Lease
166 2020 Chevrolet Malibu LT $27,595 $285 % Lease
167 2020 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock $37,850 $378 % Lease
168 2020 Audi Q5 e 55 Premium $57,445 $537 % Lease
169 2021 Jeep Renegade Latitude $26,330 $304 % Lease
170 2020 Lexus LS 500 $77,960 $888 % Lease
171 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe LT $62,860 $730 % Lease
172 2020 Cadillac XT4 Luxury $37,565 $392 % Lease
173 2021 Lexus LX 570 3-row $98,285 $992 % Lease
174 2021 Audi A6 45 Premium $57,445 $670 % Lease
175 2021 Volkswagen Atlas S $31,545 $369 % Buy
176 2020 Jeep Gladiator Sport $37,040 $373 % Lease
177 2021 Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 $46,445 $536 % Lease
178 2021 Ram 1500 BIG Horn $46,925 $435 % Lease
179 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque S $42,650 $427 % Lease
180 2021 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury $54,665 $544 % Lease
181 2020 Audi A4 40 Premium $39,895 $419 % Lease
182 2021 GMC Canyon Elevation $33,870 $287 % Lease
183 2020 Volkswagen Arteon 2.0T SE $35,995 $379 % Lease
184 2020 Lexus NX 300 $39,692 $413 % Lease
185 2019 Maserati GranTurismo Sport $157,895 $1,624 % Lease
186 2021 Chevrolet Traverse LT $36,275 $393 % Lease
187 2020 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury $54,565 $569 % Lease
188 2021 Lexus RC 350 F Sport $54,840 $674 % Buy
189 2020 Jeep Renegade Latitude $27,390 $284 % Lease
190 2021 Buick Encore Preferred $26,470 $210 % Lease
191 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Velar P250 S $56,300 $620 % Lease
192 2021 Chevrolet Camaro 1LZ $36,470 $287 % Lease
193 2020 Buick Encore GX Preferred $25,970 $266 % Lease
194 2020 Audi A6 45 Premium $57,195 $609 % Lease
195 2020 Chevrolet Trax LT $24,075 $216 % Lease
196 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport S $30,545 $379 % Buy
197 2020 Lexus RC F $78,820 $953 % Buy
198 2020 Chevrolet Bolt LT $37,495 $298 % Lease
199 2021 Lexus RXL 350 $57,050 $557 % Lease
200 2021 Volvo XC60 T5 Momentum $43,445 $519 % Buy
201 2021 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Lux $31,620 $316 % Lease
202 2020 GMC Acadia SLE $35,870 $285 % Lease
203 2020 Lexus GS 350 F Sport $56,500 $655 % Lease
204 2019 Audi A6 45 Premium $55,095 $654 % Buy
205 2021 Chevrolet Equinox LT $28,375 $263 % Lease
206 2020 Cadillac CT4 Premium Luxury $39,365 $409 % Lease
207 2021 Lexus GX 460 Premium $58,725 $606 % Lease
208 2020 Audi e-tron Premium Plus $78,990 $777 % Lease
209 2020 Jaguar F-Pace Premium 25t $47,800 $518 % Lease
210 2021 Volvo S60 T5 Momentum $38,745 $417 % Lease
211 2021 Cadillac CT5 Luxury $38,865 $467 % Buy
212 2020 Lexus RXL 350 $55,625 $587 % Lease
213 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti $42,695 $460 % Lease
214 2021 Audi SQ5 3.0T Premium $56,545 $596 % Lease
215 2020 Dodge Durango SXT Plus $36,485 $425 % Lease
216 2021 Jeep Gladiator Sport $37,060 $362 % Lease
217 2020 GMC Terrain SLE $30,470 $248 % Lease
218 2020 Lexus IS 300 $39,585 $374 % Lease
219 2021 Chevrolet Suburban LT $65,560 $776 % Buy
220 2020 Cadillac Escalade Luxury $85,965 $1,052 % Buy
221 2020 Audi Q5 45 Premium $44,295 $516 % Lease
222 2020 Jaguar XE S P250 $39,900 $417 % Lease
223 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport S $41,500 $495 % Buy
224 2021 Cadillac XT5 Luxury $45,865 $456 % Lease
225 2020 Audi A3 2.0T Premium $34,895 $399 % Lease
226 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT $50,265 $396 % Lease
227 2021 Jeep Wrangler Sport $34,810 $357 % Lease
228 2020 Lexus LX 570 3-row $98,365 $973 % Lease
229 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer LT $24,575 $272 % Lease
230 2020 Cadillac XT5 Luxury $45,965 $476 % Lease
231 2021 Lexus NX 300 $40,445 $423 % Lease
232 2021 Audi e-tron Premium $66,995 $674 % Lease
233 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport S $30,855 $379 % Buy
234 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited $43,450 $437 % Lease
235 2021 Chevrolet Blazer LT $33,175 $303 % Lease
236 2020 Buick Enclave Essence $44,070 $360 % Lease
237 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan S $24,945 $289 % Lease
238 2020 Chevrolet Traverse LT $36,275 $378 % Lease
239 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC $38,900 $386 % Lease
240 2020 Volkswagen Atlas S $31,545 $379 % Buy
241 2020 Lexus RC 350 F Sport $56,240 $655 % Lease
242 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC $38,470 $366 % Lease
243 2021 Chevrolet Trax LT $24,695 $248 % Lease
244 2020 Chevrolet Blazer LT $33,175 $302 % Lease
245 2021 Lexus RX 350 $46,685 $518 % Lease
246 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera $117,690 $1,440 % Buy
247 2021 Audi Q5 45 Premium $46,945 $550 % 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

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
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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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