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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 Honda Ridgeline, with a residual value of 68% over 3 years. With an MSRP of $43,075, that means it will depreciate by only about $14,000 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 2023 Honda Ridgeline RTL $43,075 $530 67.0% Buy
2 2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport $37,953 $462 67.0% Buy
3 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe $28,995 $271 66.0% Lease
4 2022 Tesla Model Y Long Range $69,190 $851 65.0% Buy
5 2023 Hyundai Kona EV $34,845 $382 63.0% Lease
6 2022 Honda Pilot Special Edition $44,755 $527 61.0% Buy
7 2023 Hyundai Kona $25,095 $310 60.0% Buy
8 2022 Hyundai Nexo $60,730 $600 58.0% Lease
9 2022 Mazda CX-9 Sport $36,905 $441 58.0% Buy
10 2022 Hyundai Kona $24,395 $203 57.0% Lease
11 2022 Hyundai Venue SE $20,295 $252 55.0% Buy
12 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Short Elevation $57,365 $585 % Lease
13 2023 Buick Enclave Essence $47,070 $568 % Buy
14 2022 Chevrolet Bolt LT $35,370 $359 % Lease
15 2022 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Sahara 4xe $56,190 $669 % Buy
16 2023 Toyota Tundra SR5 $45,680 $481 % Lease
17 2023 Chevrolet Traverse LT $39,315 $454 % Lease
18 2022 Chevrolet Equinox LT $29,670 $323 % Lease
19 2022 Ram 1500 BIG Horn $54,095 $407 % Lease
20 2022 Chevrolet Trax LT $26,190 $312 % Buy
21 2022 Cadillac XT4 Luxury $37,865 $462 % Buy
22 2022 GMC Canyon Short Elevation $37,265 $415 % Lease
23 2022 Toyota Tundra SR5 $42,305 $471 % Lease
24 2022 Chevrolet Blazer 2LT $35,670 $403 % Lease
25 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe 4xe $62,255 $618 % Lease
26 2023 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Sahara 4xe $57,460 $660 % Lease
27 2022 GMC Terrain SLE $32,665 $348 % Lease
28 2023 Cadillac XT5 Luxury $46,465 $570 % Buy
29 2022 Chevrolet Colorado LT $37,770 $428 % Lease
30 2023 GMC Acadia SLE $39,070 $460 % Buy
31 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT (2FL) $52,820 $498 % Lease
32 2022 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock $49,510 $555 % Lease
33 2022 Buick Encore GX Preferred $27,970 $318 % Lease
34 2022 Dodge Durango GT $43,745 $471 % Lease
35 2022 Cadillac XT5 Luxury $46,265 $542 % Buy
36 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited $47,530 $569 % Buy
37 2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport $42,315 $475 % 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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