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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 2022 Nissan Frontier, with a residual value of 77% over 3 years. With an MSRP of $40,155, that means it will depreciate by only about $11,000 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 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 2022 Nissan Frontier SV CC () $40,155 $493 77.0% Buy
2 2022 Toyota Venza LE $34,439 $393 69.0% Lease
3 2022 Subaru Ascent $33,970 $400 68.0% Buy
4 2022 Subaru Forester $27,070 $318 68.0% Buy
5 2022 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E $45,365 $539 68.0% Buy
6 2022 Subaru Crosstrek Base $25,670 $306 67.0% Buy
7 2022 Toyota RAV4 LE $29,409 $364 66.0% Buy
8 2022 Subaru Impreza Impreza $21,590 $265 66.0% Buy
9 2022 Subaru Outback Base $28,820 $338 66.0% Buy
10 2022 Hyundai Tucson $28,345 $350 63.0% Buy
11 2022 Subaru Legacy Base $24,490 $290 63.0% Buy
12 2022 Hyundai Sonata SE $25,545 $302 63.0% Buy
13 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime SE $42,680 $450 62.0% Lease
14 2022 Toyota C-HR LE $25,518 $306 62.0% Buy
15 2022 Honda Pilot Special Edition $42,755 $525 62.0% Buy
16 2022 Mazda CX-9 Sport $36,855 $457 60.0% Buy
17 2022 Hyundai Venue SE $20,245 $235 60.0% Lease
18 2022 Toyota Prius Prime LE $29,504 $335 59.0% Lease
19 2022 Hyundai Nexo $60,680 $617 58.0% Lease
20 2022 Hyundai Kona EV $35,245 $360 58.0% Lease
21 2022 Hyundai Ioniq $27,845 $292 58.0% Lease
22 2022 Kia Niro EV EX $41,245 $388 55.0% Lease
23 2022 Mazda MX-30 $34,695 $355 52.0% Lease
24 2022 Ford Edge SE $38,640 $469 51.0% Buy
25 2022 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport $37,190 $425 % Lease
26 2022 Dodge Durango R/T $55,385 $533 % Lease
27 2022 Chevrolet Camaro LT1 $37,665 $362 % Lease
28 2021 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Lux $34,000 $370 % Lease
29 2022 GMC Canyon Short Elevation $34,765 $371 % Lease
30 2022 Chevrolet Equinox LT $28,970 $299 % Lease
31 2022 Buick Enclave Essence $44,870 $470 % Lease
32 2022 GMC Terrain SLE $29,970 $349 % Lease
33 2022 Chevrolet Traverse LT $38,270 $439 % Lease
34 2022 Jeep Gladiator Sport S $44,475 $440 % Lease
35 2022 Cadillac XT5 Luxury $46,065 $564 % Buy
36 2022 Dodge Charger SXT $32,945 $396 % Buy
37 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee WK Laredo E $38,575 $432 % Lease
38 2022 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock $42,430 $406 % Lease
39 2022 Chevrolet Bolt LT $34,870 $305 % Lease
40 2022 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Sahara 4xe $55,785 $470 % Lease
41 2022 Chevrolet Colorado LT $36,470 $400 % Lease
42 2021 Jeep Renegade Latitude $29,465 $353 % Buy
43 2022 Toyota Tundra SR5 $42,305 $451 % Lease
44 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 limited Elevation $51,065 $571 % Lease
45 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTD LT (2FL) $47,850 $439 % Lease
46 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL 1AT $38,520 $425 % Lease
47 2022 Cadillac CT4 excluding V Premium Luxury $39,665 $487 % Buy
48 2022 Volvo V60 Recharge Polester Engineered Range $68,395 $832 % Buy
49 2022 Chevrolet Trax LT $25,890 $272 % Lease
50 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Limited $47,515 $538 % Lease
51 2022 Ram 1500 BIG Horn $42,985 $408 % Lease
52 2022 Chevrolet Blazer LT $35,470 $400 % Lease





3 Steps Every Car Buyer Needs to Take to Save Maximum Money

The key to getting the best deal is to gather price or lease bids from as many local dealers as possible. Then shop that best price around until no one can beat it. Here are the steps:

Step 1 Get Prices From My Trusted Network

Select the vehicle you're interested in to see if there are local dealers in my network who will provide you with their best upfront price. You will get direct access to an internet sales manager who you can further negotiate with online (no need to visit dealership).
Select Vehicle to Get Local Pricing

Step 2 Get Prices From TrueCar / CarsDirect

TrueCar, and CarsDirect are my top 2 online price quote recommendations. These services show you pre-negotiated prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually pretty decent. But remember, you can still negotiate further.

Step 3 Complete my Checklist

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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