5 Cheap Cars That Are Horrible To Lease

By

Senior Pricing Analyst

As CarsDirect’s resident pricing analyst, Alex offers must-know analysis of pricing & incentives to those looking to buy or lease a car. His consumer-oriented coverage of the latest trends and breaking news has been featured in publications such as Car and Driver, Motor Trend, Automobile Magazine and Autoblog.

Follow On: Twitter

, Senior Pricing Analyst - September 14, 2017

Buying a car or SUV with a low sticker price can be a great decision for those on a budget. However, that's not always the case when you lease. In fact, cheap vehicles can be some of the worst possible choices.

We analyzed over 560 leases to uncover some real stinkers that can actually be more expensive to lease than much nicer vehicles. Here are 5 cars under $25k you may want to cross-off your list if you're planning to lease.

Offers assume a Los Angeles location unless noted otherwise.

Fiat 500
  • Payment: $223/month
  • Term: 48 months
  • Mileage: 10k
  • Due at Signing: $3,999
  • Effective Monthly Cost: $306
  • MSRP: $16,985

Despite the appeal of its Italian flair, someone somewhere is quietly crying under a bridge inside of a FIAT 500. Some cars have a low payment but large amount at signing. In this particular case, both are awful.

With an effective cost of $306, the 500 Pop is more expensive to lease than a $36,105 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid ($305). It's even pricier than a $24,400 Honda Civic 1.5T EX-L Coupe ($280).

To make things worse, you'll be stuck with it for 48 months. Why so long? The lease calculation is based on an atrocious residual of 24% and we suspect it's the only way FIAT had left to keep the payments manageable.

If you're in love with the 500 despite its faults, you may be better off just buying one. Just be aware that rebates took a dive after base prices were lowered for 2017. Learn more about the 500 »

Mitsubishi Mirage G4
  • Payment: $189/month
  • Term: 36 months
  • Mileage: 10k
  • Due at Signing: $3,388
  • Effective Monthly Cost: $283
  • MSRP: $16,030

With an EPA rating of up to 42 mpg highway, the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 is one of the most fuel-efficient cars you can buy. In addition, its low sticker price should definitely be attractive to those on a tight budget. However, if you're going to lease, the car isn't the value it seems to be.

At $283/month, the vehicle's effective lease cost is actually higher than that of a $27,505 Honda Accord EX ($276). For better fuel economy, the $26,865 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE ($279) is a good alternative with a much nicer ride and interior. Learn more about the Mirage G4 »

Chevy Cruze
  • Payment: $179/month
  • Term: 24 months
  • Mileage: 10k
  • Due at Signing: $3,419
  • Effective Monthly Cost: $324
  • MSRP: $22,325

Cheapness doesn't always equate to value. Although the Cruze boasts a $179/month lease, smart looks and advanced connectivity can't change the fact that it's more expensive to lease than a $30,480 Honda Accord Hybrid EX-L ($304).

If you're on a budget, there are better values to be had. If you can believe it, the Cruze actually has the exact same effective lease cost as a $36,025 Ford Flex SEL. That's a lot more vehicle for the same amount of money.

Although the residual value of the Cruze isn't terrible, a short lease term contributes to a higher monthly lease cost than a nearly $25,000 Honda Civic 1.5T EX-L Sedan ($280).

On the flipside, the Cruze can be a pretty good deal when you buy. Earlier this month, GM was offering a 20% off promotion for Labor Day worth nearly $4,500 off the Cruze LT. Learn more about the Cruze »

Toyota C-HR
  • Payment: $249/month
  • Term: 36 months
  • Mileage: 12k
  • Due at Signing: $1,999
  • Effective Monthly Cost: $305
  • MSRP: $24,049

The all-new C-HR offers edgy styling and an impressive feature set that includes lane departure warning, a pre-collision system with emergency braking and more. However, a lack of discounts actually makes it more expensive to lease than a nearly $26,074 Toyota RAV4 LE.

If you can believe it, here in Los Angeles the C-HR will actually set you back a whopping $50 (per month!) more than the RAV4. For now at least, it's even a worse deal than a Mazda CX-5 Sport since there's currently a price war among small SUVs at $199/month with $1,999 at signing.

So is this yet another case in which a vehicle is terrible to lease but great to buy? Well, not really. Although there's a $750 rebate on the C-HR, Toyota is offering the RAV4 with $2,000 cash right alongside it. This begs the question: why would you buy a C-HR when you can buy a RAV4? Learn more about the C-HR »

Jeep Cherokee
  • Payment: $355/month
  • Term: 42 months
  • Mileage: 10k
  • Due at Signing: $3,499
  • Effective Monthly Cost: $438
  • MSRP: $24,790

With a price tag under $25,000, the Cherokee Sport seems like it should be a good value. However, on closer inspection it doesn't really make sense to lease because of how the discounts are set up.

With an effective cost of $438/month, the Sport is more expensive to lease than a $32,290 Cherokee Trailhawk ($323). That's a difference of $115 (per month!) despite a gap in MSRP of $7,500. So why is that the case?

For starters, the calculation for the Sport factors in a residual value of 36%, while the Trailhawk is at 46%. More importantly, the Trailhawk is eligible for $4,250 in lease cash whereas the Sport only gets $1,000.

If you're looking to buy, the Sport may make sense with $4,500 in rebates. However, the much nicer Limited is eligible for a whopping $7,000, potentially making it a smarter buy. Learn more about the Cherokee »

Back to top of page

, Senior Pricing Analyst

As CarsDirect’s resident pricing analyst, Alex offers must-know analysis of pricing & incentives to those looking to buy or lease a car. His consumer-oriented coverage of the latest trends and breaking news has been featured in publications such as Car and Driver, Motor Trend, Automobile Magazine and Autoblog.

Follow On: Twitter

Privacy Policy|Terms of Use|Cookie Policy|Disclaimer
COPYRIGHT 1999-2019 MH Sub I, LLC dba CarsDirect.com