Which Cars Better to Lease or 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 2021 Toyota Tacoma SR, with a residual value of 81% over 3 years. With an MSRP of $34,127, 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, CarsDirect 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 2021 Toyota Tacoma SR $33,838 $257 81.0% Lease
2 2021 Toyota Tundra SR5 $44,269 $462 73.0% Lease
3 2021 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road $42,289 $427 72.0% Lease
4 2021 Nissan Frontier SV CC SWB $35,600 $373 71.0% Lease
5 2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport $37,665 $406 69.0% Lease
6 2021 Toyota Venza 2.5L 4-Cyl LE $33,914 $306 68.0% Lease
7 2021 Subaru Ascent $33,345 $360 67.0% Lease
8 2020 Nissan Frontier SV CC SWB $35,245 $353 67.0% Lease
9 2020 Honda Ridgeline Sport $37,315 $331 67.0% Lease
10 2021 Toyota RAV4 LE $28,984 $287 67.0% Lease
11 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Crosstrek $24,645 $290 67.0% Buy
12 2021 Toyota Sienna LE $35,855 $374 67.0% Lease
13 2021 Toyota Highlander LE 3.5L 8AT () $40,103 $364 67.0% Lease
14 2021 Subaru Forester $25,845 $302 66.0% Lease
15 2021 Subaru Outback Base $27,845 $312 65.0% Lease
16 2022 Acura MDX $47,925 $567 65.0% Buy
17 2021 Mazda CX-30 2.5S $23,225 $287 65.0% Buy
18 2021 Tesla Model Y Standard Range Rear-Wheel Drive $41,190 $489 65.0% Buy
19 2021 Honda Passport EX-L $37,985 $384 65.0% Lease
20 2021 Kia Sorento LX $30,565 $349 65.0% Lease
21 2021 Kia Telluride LX $33,415 $407 64.0% Buy
22 2021 Honda CR-V EX $29,035 $325 64.0% Lease
23 2021 Toyota C-HR LE $22,985 $228 64.0% Lease
24 2021 Honda Civic Sport $25,095 $277 64.0% Lease
25 2021 Kia K5 LXS $25,585 $267 63.0% Lease
26 2020 Honda Fit LX $17,985 $220 63.0% Buy
27 2021 Honda HR-V LX $22,395 $224 63.0% Lease
28 2021 Subaru Impreza Base $21,020 $249 63.0% Buy
29 2021 Mazda CX-3 Sport $21,965 $248 63.0% Lease
30 2022 Kia Carnival MPV LX Seat $35,275 $427 63.0% Buy
31 2021 Mazda CX-9 Sport $35,335 $364 62.0% Lease
32 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe $28,035 $293 62.0% Lease
33 2021 Honda Pilot EX-L $39,835 $392 62.0% Lease
34 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser Base $87,198 $1,013 62.0% Lease
35 2020 Honda CR-V EX $30,335 $318 62.0% Lease
36 2021 Hyundai Sonata SE $24,705 $223 62.0% Lease
37 2021 Hyundai Venue SE $19,935 $221 62.0% Lease
38 2021 Toyota Mirai XLE $51,905 $496 61.0% Lease
39 2021 Honda Odyssey EX $36,365 $403 61.0% Lease
40 2021 Mini Clubman Cooper S $35,350 $403 61.0% Lease
41 2021 Honda Accord LX $25,965 $306 61.0% Buy
42 2021 Nissan Sentra SV $21,810 $260 61.0% Buy
43 2021 Toyota Corolla LE $21,619 $209 61.0% Lease
44 2021 Kia Seltos S $23,165 $255 60.0% Lease
45 2021 Toyota Prius Prime LE $29,474 $209 60.0% Lease
46 2021 Acura RDX $39,425 $481 60.0% Buy
47 2021 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium $56,680 $653 60.0% Lease
48 2021 Hyundai Elantra $20,655 $235 60.0% Lease
49 2021 BMW 5 Series 530i $55,745 $609 60.0% Lease
50 2021 Kia Niro LX $25,865 $277 60.0% Lease
51 2021 Toyota Prius LE $28,389 $316 60.0% Lease
52 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe SE $27,450 $264 60.0% Lease
53 2021 BMW M5 $113,045 $1,400 60.0% Buy
54 2021 Acura TLX $38,525 $467 60.0% Buy
55 2021 Nissan TITAN S CC $44,410 $517 60.0% Lease
56 2021 BMW Z4 sDrive30i $52,395 $645 60.0% Buy
57 2020 Honda Civic LX $21,795 $221 59.0% Lease
58 2020 Hyundai Sonata SE $24,595 $232 59.0% Lease
59 2021 Kia Soul LX $20,265 $242 59.0% Buy
60 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE $49,912 $499 59.0% Lease
61 2021 BMW 3 Series 330i $44,095 $518 59.0% Buy
62 2021 Subaru Legacy Base $24,170 $289 59.0% Buy
63 2021 Hyundai Kona $23,485 $232 59.0% Lease
64 2021 Nissan Armada SV $56,715 $693 59.0% Buy
65 2021 BMW 2 Series 228i Gran Coupe $38,195 $436 59.0% Lease
66 2021 Kia Sportage LX $25,265 $256 59.0% Lease
67 2020 Subaru WRX WRX $28,395 $351 58.0% Buy
68 2020 Hyundai Nexo $59,910 $438 58.0% Lease
69 2021 BMW i3 $47,395 $392 58.0% Lease
70 2020 Hyundai Venue SE $19,725 $221 58.0% Lease
71 2021 Kia Forte LXS $20,385 $217 58.0% Lease
72 2021 Mazda Mazda3 2.0L $21,645 $267 58.0% Buy
73 2020 Toyota C-HR LE $22,818 $248 58.0% Lease
74 2021 Hyundai Nexo $59,970 $438 58.0% Lease
75 2021 BMW 4 Series 430i $48,045 $577 58.0% Buy
76 2021 Infiniti QX50 Pure $38,975 $447 57.0% Lease
77 2021 Mini Countryman Cooper $29,950 $364 57.0% Buy
78 2020 Kia Niro LX $25,765 $253 57.0% Lease
79 2021 BMW X4 xDrive30i $54,195 $664 57.0% Buy
80 2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop 2 Door $23,250 $287 57.0% Buy
81 2021 BMW X3 sDrive30i $45,235 $548 57.0% Buy
82 2020 Hyundai Kona $23,275 $238 56.9% Lease
83 2021 Hyundai Tucson SE $24,885 $232 56.0% Lease
84 2020 Honda Accord Touring $37,395 $418 56.0% Lease
85 2021 Acura ILX $27,125 $310 56.0% Lease
86 2020 Hyundai Tucson SE $24,690 $249 56.0% Lease
87 2020 Mercedes CLA 250 $39,295 $484 56.0% Buy
88 2021 BMW 7 Series 740i $92,095 $971 55.0% Lease
89 2020 Mercedes C-Class C 300 $43,895 $544 55.0% Buy
90 2020 Mercedes E-Class E 350 $55,045 $677 55.0% Buy
91 2021 Toyota Camry $26,224 $267 54.0% Lease
92 2021 BMW M8 Gran Coupe $141,495 $1,748 54.0% Buy
93 2020 Acura MDX $45,525 $491 54.0% Lease
94 2021 BMW 8 Series 840i $92,695 $1,068 54.0% Lease
95 2020 Mercedes AMG GT $116,895 $1,290 54.0% Lease
96 2020 Kia Cadenza Technology $38,885 $421 54.0% Lease
97 2020 Nissan Sentra SV $21,710 $249 54.0% Lease
98 2021 Nissan Altima 2.5 S $25,730 $318 53.0% Buy
99 2021 Hyundai Kona Ev EV $38,575 $249 52.0% Lease
100 2021 Nissan Maxima SV $38,485 $423 52.0% Lease
101 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport S $26,905 $312 52.0% Lease
102 2021 Infiniti Q50 Luxe $42,725 $476 52.0% Lease
103 2021 Nissan Murano S $34,040 $390 52.0% Lease
104 2020 Lincoln Continental Standard $47,300 $573 51.0% Buy
105 2020 Nissan Murano S $33,910 $349 51.0% Lease
106 2020 Mercedes S-Class S 450 $98,995 $1,171 51.0% Buy
107 2021 Hyundai Ioniq EV $34,250 $245 51.0% Lease
108 2020 Infiniti QX50 Pure $38,275 $428 50.0% Lease
109 2021 Genesis G70 2.0T Standard $37,025 $415 50.0% Lease
110 2020 Nissan Altima 2.5 S $25,640 $309 49.0% Buy
111 2020 Hyundai Ioniq EV $34,040 $225 49.0% Lease
112 2021 Kia Stinger GT-Line $34,135 $402 49.0% Buy
113 2020 Kia Niro EV EX $40,210 $291 49.0% Lease
114 2020 Infiniti QX60 Signature Edition $51,275 $537 48.0% Lease
115 2020 Hyundai Elantra $20,295 $195 48.0% Lease
116 2020 Hyundai Kona Ev EV $38,365 $221 48.0% Lease
117 2020 Nissan Maxima S $35,945 $404 48.0% Lease
118 2020 Nissan Pathfinder S $35,200 $378 48.0% Lease
119 2020 Infiniti Q50 3.0t Pure $37,425 $431 48.0% Lease
120 2021 Honda Clarity $34,395 $291 47.0% Lease
121 2020 Hyundai Elantra Gt $21,645 $257 46.0% Buy
122 2021 Nissan LEAF S $32,545 $228 45.0% Lease
123 2020 Nissan LEAF SV $35,115 $256 41.0% Lease
124 2020 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium $36,195 $446 37.0% Buy
125 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT $46,480 $375 % Lease
126 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Sprint $44,995 $549 % Buy
127 2021 Ram 1500 BIG Horn $43,230 $479 % Lease
128 2021 Cadillac XT6 Premium Luxury $54,665 $588 % Lease
129 2020 Audi A3 2.0T S line Premium $38,895 $470 % Buy
130 2021 GMC Acadia SLE $35,670 $412 % Lease
131 2021 Lexus NX 300 $40,445 $432 % Lease
132 2021 Audi Q7 45 Premium $57,545 $702 % Buy
133 2021 Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 $46,545 $536 % Lease
134 2021 Buick Encore Preferred $26,470 $254 % Lease
135 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe LT $62,860 $709 % Lease
136 2021 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque S $43,300 $514 % Buy
137 2021 Audi A6 45 Premium $57,445 $605 % Lease
138 2021 Volkswagen Arteon 2.0T SE $36,995 $409 % Lease
139 2020 Jaguar I-PACE S $69,850 $866 % Buy
140 2021 Jaguar F-Type 2.0L P300 $61,600 $624 % Lease
141 2021 Chevrolet Bolt LT $38,245 $259 % Lease
142 2020 Chevrolet Trax LT $24,075 $190 % Lease
143 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan S $24,945 $276 % Lease
144 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Elevation $49,370 $463 % Lease
145 2021 Lexus RX 350 $46,685 $528 % Lease
146 2021 Audi SQ5 3.0T Premium $56,545 $616 % Lease
147 2021 Volvo XC60 T5 Momentum $43,545 $519 % Buy
148 2021 Buick Envision Preferred $33,870 $379 % Lease
149 2021 Chevrolet Traverse LT $37,470 $340 % Lease
150 2021 Lexus GX 460 Premium $58,240 $598 % Lease
151 2021 Audi A8 L 55 $87,545 $973 % Lease
152 2021 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4T S $19,795 $229 % Lease
153 2020 Jeep Renegade Latitude $27,390 $292 % Lease
154 2021 Jeep Gladiator Sport $37,060 $372 % Lease
155 2021 Chevrolet Colorado LT $33,255 $267 % Lease
156 2020 Dodge Charger SXT $35,090 $431 % Buy
157 2021 Lexus UX 200 $34,785 $403 % Lease
158 2021 Cadillac CT5 Luxury $38,865 $454 % Lease
159 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Touring L $43,790 $495 % Lease
160 2021 Lexus LC 500 $101,455 $1,143 % Lease
161 2021 Audi Q3 40 Premium $36,795 $442 % Buy
162 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan S $25,245 $279 % Lease
163 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport ES 2.0 $24,190 $261 % Lease
164 2021 Jeep Renegade Latitude $27,830 $309 % Lease
165 2021 Chevrolet Malibu LT $28,470 $250 % Lease
166 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint $40,995 $496 % Buy
167 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross ES 1.5T $24,780 $285 % Lease
168 2021 Porsche 911 Carrera $111,900 $1,365 % Buy
169 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL S-AWC $37,705 $356 % Lease
170 2021 Cadillac XT5 Luxury $45,865 $455 % Lease
171 2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio $44,695 $548 % Buy
172 2020 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock $40,490 $446 % Lease
173 2021 Lexus LX 570 3-row $98,610 $1,012 % Lease
174 2021 Audi Q5 e 55 Premium $56,140 $557 % Lease
175 2021 Volvo S90 T6 Momentum $53,290 $661 % Buy
176 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport S $41,500 $436 % Lease
177 2021 Buick Enclave Essence $44,070 $378 % Lease
178 2021 Chevrolet Suburban LT $65,560 $757 % Lease
179 2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport S $41,900 $475 % Lease
180 2021 Audi A4 40 Premium $41,945 $431 % Lease
181 2020 Jaguar E-Pace SE P250 $43,700 $489 % Lease
182 2021 Jaguar F-Pace S P250 $53,895 $605 % Lease
183 2021 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock $38,440 $399 % Lease
184 2021 Chevrolet Blazer LT $35,670 $267 % Lease
185 2020 Chevrolet Bolt LT $38,370 $211 % Lease
186 2021 GMC Canyon Elevation $33,970 $279 % Lease
187 2021 Lexus RC 350 F Sport $54,840 $655 % Buy
188 2021 Audi S4 3.0T Premium $52,745 $548 % Lease
189 2021 Volvo XC40 T4 Momentum $34,795 $432 % Buy
190 2021 Buick Encore GX Preferred $26,070 $292 % Lease
191 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer LT $26,575 $234 % Lease
192 2021 Lexus ES 250 $45,050 $433 % Lease
193 2021 Audi A7 e 55 Premium Plus $75,945 $799 % Lease
194 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport S $30,855 $349 % Lease
195 2020 Jaguar XE S P250 $39,900 $417 % Lease
196 2021 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Lux $31,640 $357 % Lease
197 2021 Chevrolet Camaro 1LZ $37,465 $268 % Lease
198 2020 Chrysler Pacifica Limited $47,340 $520 % Lease
199 2021 GMC Terrain SLE $30,470 $302 % Lease
200 2021 Lexus RXL 350 $57,050 $577 % Lease
201 2021.5 Volkswagen Atlas S $31,555 $359 % Lease
202 2021 Cadillac CT4 Premium Luxury $39,465 $425 % Lease
203 2021 Chevrolet Trax LT $24,695 $196 % Lease
204 2021 Lexus IS 300 $40,330 $460 % Lease
205 2021 Audi e-tron Premium $70,495 $624 % Lease
206 2021 Volkswagen Passat S $23,995 $279 % Lease
207 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL 1AT $37,710 $376 % Lease
208 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo E $35,715 $434 % Buy
209 2021 Chevrolet Equinox LT $29,570 $231 % Lease
210 2021 Cadillac XT4 Luxury $37,665 $396 % Lease
211 2021 Jeep Wrangler Sport $34,810 $352 % Lease
212 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia $40,695 $497 % Buy
213 2021 Dodge Durango SXT Plus $37,485 $454 % Buy
214 2021 Lexus LS 500 $77,550 $927 % Buy
215 2021 Audi Q5 45 Premium $46,945 $567 % Buy
216 2021 Volvo S60 T5 Momentum $38,995 $427 % Lease

My Recommendation for Car Shoppers

TrueCar No-Haggle, CarsDirect, and Ryde Shopper 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

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About The Author

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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