Cross-Shopping Lease Deals Reveals Surprises in June

By

Senior Pricing Analyst

Alex Bernstein is the Senior Pricing Analyst for CarsDirect.com. Each month he studies immense volumes of pricing and incentives data in search of trends that are useful to car shoppers. In the process, he often breaks industry news stories -- his analyses and insights have been featured on websites such as Automotive News, The Detroit News, Autoblog, The Truth About Cars and The Car Connection.

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, Senior Pricing Analyst - June 25, 2015

When it comes to leases, it's tempting to be drawn to low payments. However, the real test of a deal comes when you look at the whole picture. By looking at both the payment and amount due at signing, you can identify the effective monthly cost of a lease. As a result, there can be surprises with what ends up being a good or bad deal. We looked at over 300 deals to find some of the best examples. Here's what you need to know.

Unless noted otherwise, we will be referring to 2015 models. MSRP values listed here include destination and options as advertised by the manufacturer. Deals are based on June incentives and can be subject to change.

Toyota Corolla vs. Toyota Camry

Toyota Camry

Toyota's small car incentives haven't kept pace with competitors. Compared with the Camry, the Corolla is supposed to be the most affordable option. So why is the Camry a better deal?

In addition to $500 in lease discounts, the Camry has a much better money factor (lease interest rate). As a result, for $10 more per month you can lease a car with an MSRP that's over $4,000 more expensive. It's like a discounted seat upgrade for a flight that's going to last 36 months.

Vehicle MSRP PMT Term Due at Signing Monthly Cost
Toyota Corolla LE Plus $19,965 $189 36 $1,999 $245
Toyota Camry LE $24,020 $199 36 $1,999 $255

Get a custom lease quote on the Toyota Camry »

Hyundai Elantra vs. Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai Sonata

The Elantra is supposed to be more affordable than the Sonata. So why does it have the exact same lease payment as the all-new Sonata?

One of the reasons is that the Elantra is undergoing a model year transition. Another is that offers keep getting better on the Sonata. As a result, you can get a car that's $2,900 more expensive for the same effective cost. It's rare to see this happen in an automaker's lineup.

Vehicle MSRP PMT Term Due at Signing Monthly Cost
Hyundai Elantra SE (2016) $19,075 $179 36 $1,999 $235
Hyundai Sonata SE $21,975 $179 36 $1,999 $235

Get a custom lease quote on the Hyundai Sonata »

Toyota Prius vs. Lexus CT 200h

Lexus CT200h

One of the most popular comparisons among green car shoppers is between the Prius and CT 200h. Sure, the Lexus gets comparable fuel economy, but it's also considerably more expensive. So why is the Lexus a better deal?

Although the CT 200h has a higher effective cost, it's not by much. That's because it has five times the lease discounts versus the Prius- $2,500 in total. As a result, for $52 more per month you get a car that's $8,219 more expensive. It's not often that you can upgrade to a luxury car for such a modest amount.

Vehicle MSRP PMT Term Due at Signing Monthly Cost
Toyota Prius Two $25,250 $219 36 $1,999 $275
Lexus CT200h Premium $33,469 $299 36 $999 $327

Get a custom lease quote on the Lexus CT 200h »

Nissan Versa vs. Nissan Sentra

Nissan Sentra

The Versa has made a name for itself as a top budget-priced car. On the other hand, the Sentra is more spacious and both more powerful and efficient, but it's also $6,310 more expensive. So why does the Sentra end up being a better deal?

One reason is that the Sentra gets a $500 lease discount whereas the Versa doesn't. As a result, the effective monthly cost is $9 less per month for a car that's $6,310 more expensive. Incentives for the Versa are generally conservative given the vehicle's low base price.

Vehicle MSRP PMT Term Due at Signing Monthly Cost
Nissan Versa 1.6 S $13,185 $179 36 $1,999 $235
Nissan Sentra SV $19,495 $159 36 $2,399 $226

Get a custom lease quote on the Nissan Sentra »

Jeep Patriot vs. Jeep Cherokee

Jeep Cherokee

With its traditional rugged looks, the Patriot is one of the lowest-priced crossovers. On the other hand, the Cherokee is newer, more sophisticated, but has a much higher MSRP. Surely the Patriot is a better deal, right?

Although the Patriot has a lower effective cost, it's not by much. That's because the Cherokee has three times the lease discounts of the Patriot- $1,500 in total. As a result, for $40 more per month you get a car that's priced $5,100 higher. As for the unique design of the Cherokee, we'll leave that comparison up to you.

Vehicle MSRP PMT Term Due at Signing Monthly Cost
Jeep Patriot Sport $20,990 $199 36 $2,999 $282
Jeep Cherokee Latitude $26,090 $236 36 $2,999 $322

Get a custom lease quote on the Jeep Cherokee »

Mitsubishi Mirage vs. Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt

The Mirage may have one of the lowest MSRPs but that doesn't make it the best deal- especially when it comes to leasing. With an incredibly high amount due at signing, it ranks as the least favorable deal out of 41 hatchbacks that we looked at.

Instead, shoppers may want to consider a Chevy Volt, which not only is more spacious but gets superior fuel economy. A major selldown effort is going on featuring lease discounts worth up to $6,625 in states like California. As a result, even though the Volt is $20,280 more expensive, it has a lower effective cost of $4 less per month.

Vehicle MSRP PMT Term Due at Signing Monthly Cost
Mitsubishi Mirage DE CVT $14,890 $129 24 $3,278 $266
Chevrolet Volt $35,170 $249 39 $500 $262

Get a custom lease quote on the Chevy Volt »

Dodge Grand Caravan vs. Honda Odyssey

Honda Odyssey

Without a doubt, the Grand Caravan is one of the best deals around when it comes to a cash purchase. However, leases are a different story.

With only $500 in lease discounts, the Grand Caravan is the least attractive deal out of the 8 minivans we looked at. The Odyssey has double the lease discounts and equates to a superior value. As a result, you get a minivan that's priced $1,565 higher with an effective cost that's $64 lower per month.

Vehicle MSRP PMT Term Due at Signing Monthly Cost
Dodge Grand Caravan SXT $28,290 $309 36 $2,999 $392
Honda Odyssey LX $29,855 $259 36 $2,499 $328

Get a custom lease quote on the Honda Odyssey »

Mercedes-Benz GLK350 vs. Acura MDX

Acura MDX

If you're shopping for luxury crossovers, chances are that the $399 payment on the aging GLK350 may get your attention. So why does the 2016 Acura MDX, an all-new vehicle, end up a better deal?

On the surface, the deal on the GLK looks attractive, but it comes with a huge $4,593 due at signing. On the other hand, deals on the 2016 Acura MDX have been very aggressive. It's also newer and has the latest features. As a result, the MDX has an effective cost that's $5 less per month despite being priced $1,510 higher.

Vehicle MSRP PMT Term Due at Signing Monthly Cost
Mercedes-Benz GLK350 $42,275 $399 36 $4,593 $527
Acura MDX (2016) $43,785 $439 36 $2,999 $522

Get a custom lease quote on the Acura MDX »

Our take

Promotions may vary month to month but there are clearly surprise values when you cross-shop lease deals. As always, we recommend shoppers look beyond the advertised monthly payment to uncover the effective monthly cost. You may just end up in a nicer car than you originally planned.

See this month's top-ranked new car deals »

Incentives listed here are based on a resident in Southern California. Lease offers are based on top-tier credit and exclude tax, license, title, registration, document fees and insurance. State-level incentives can vary, so please check with your CarsDirect Trusted Dealer to confirm all available offers in your region.

Visit our CarsDirect Pricing Insider page for pricing and deal analyses for over 300 models. Sign up for email alerts to have our analyses delivered straight to your inbox. Browse our Deals Articles for insider info on the latest new car incentives that can save you money.

, Senior Pricing Analyst

Alex Bernstein is the Senior Pricing Analyst for CarsDirect.com. Each month he studies immense volumes of pricing and incentives data in search of trends that are useful to car shoppers. In the process, he often breaks industry news stories -- his analyses and insights have been featured on websites such as Automotive News, The Detroit News, Autoblog, The Truth About Cars and The Car Connection.

Follow On: Google+ | Website