Why $199 Leases Aren't Always A Good Deal

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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.

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, Senior Pricing Analyst - June 7, 2017

Learn about a common mistake of shopping for cheap $199 (and under) leases

Choosing a new car based on monthly payment may sound simple, but it can be a terrible idea when it comes to leasing. $199 (and under) leases sound cheap, but it can be a grim situation if you end up having to pay a ton of money upfront.

Any lease can be a $199 deal with a high enough amount at signing. In fact, based on our analysis this month of 500 leases, some of these so-called deals require as much as $4,629 at signing.

There are even cases in which you could lease a much nicer, more spacious or more interesting vehicle for less when comparing effective lease costs. No one likes finding out they could have gotten more for less, so here's a look at some examples.

Offers are for 2017 model year vehicles in Southern California unless noted otherwise.

GMC Terrain: Brawny But Expensive

GMC Terrain

At $199 for 24 months, the Terrain SLE-1 sounds like a great deal given its MSRP of $28,225. However, it has an amount due at signing of $4,629. As a result, its effective lease cost is $392.

At that price, you could lease a $38,000 Acura RDX and save $1 per month. Or, you could take home a brand-new Nissan Murano S for as much as $61 less per month.

Model Name Effective Cost Difference Per Month MSRP Pmt/Due at Signing/Term
Nissan Murano S FWD $331 -$61 $31,100 $259/$2,599/36
Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 4x4 $349 -$43 $32,290 $252/$3,499/36
Chevrolet Traverse LT FWD $361 -$31 $34,995 $269/$3,309/36
Chevrolet Equinox LT 2WD (2018) $370 -$22 $27,645 $229/$3,379/24
Acura RDX V6 AWD (2017) $391 -$1 $38,145 $299/$3,299/36

Ford Fiesta: Cheap But Spendy

Ford Fiesta

On the surface, the Fiesta SE Hatchback seems pretty affordable at $189 for 36 months with $1,939 at signing. After all, the car's MSRP is only $17,160. But with an effective cost of $243, this is actually one of the worst deals available.

For the exact same amount, you could actually lease a Honda Civic 1.5T Hatchback. If you were hoping to save money on gas, you could also lease a nearly $25,000 C-Max Hybrid for $18 less. Or, if you're on a tighter budget, the Nissan Sentra ranks as one of the cheapest leases on any car.

Model Name Effective Cost Difference Per Month MSRP Pmt/Due at Signing/Term
Nissan Sentra SV $205 -$38 $20,065 $149/$1,999/36
Ford C-Max Hybrid SE $225 -$18 $24,995 $169/$1,999/36
Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium $239 -$4 $22,585 $239/$0/36
Hyundai Sonata SE $240 -$3 $22,585 $179/$2,199/36
Honda Civic 1.5T EX Hatchback $243 Same $21,375 $179/$2,299/36

Chevy Cruze: Pricier Than Some SUVs

Chevrolet Cruze

Although we've seen some incredible leases on the Cruze in the past, recent offers have been rather awful. At $179 for 24 months, the Cruze LT Sedan certainly sounds cheap, but it has an amount due at signing of $2,449.

Because of the short lease term, it ends up with an effective cost of $281. You could lease a nearly $28,000 Kia Sorento for about the same amount of money. Or, you could pick a $26,000 Honda Accord Sport for $5 less.

Model Name Effective Cost Difference Per Month MSRP Pmt/Due at Signing/Term
Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Blue $275 -$6 $26,074 $219/$1,999/36
Toyota RAV4 LE $275 -$6 $26,074 $219/$1,999/36
Subaru Outback 2.5i Standard $277 -$4 $26,520 $229/$1,729/36
Honda Accord Sport $276 -$5 $26,190 $209/$2,399/36
Kia Sorento LX $281 Same $27,795 $209/$2,599/36

See the effective cost of every lease by segment »

, 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

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