For those who can’t afford to buy a new vehicle outright, leasing has always been a reliable option to get behind the wheel of a new car without years of saving. Indeed, more people than ever are choosing to lease over buying, with Experian Automotive announcing that leasing has grown by 12.5 percent, reaching the highest point since data was first tracked in 2006.
Experian’s State of the Automotive Finance Market report reveals that leasing has accounted for a record 27.5 percent of all new vehicles financed, up from 24.4 percent in the first quarter of 2012. Not only is leasing becoming more popular, but the average monthly leasing cost has decreased from $462 in the first quarter of 2012 to $459 in the same period of this year.
“Consumers tend to shop for vehicles based within the limits of their budget, and leasing is often seen as a viable path to a lower monthly payment,” said Melinda Zabritski, senior director of Automotive Credit. “Lenders have seen overall stability come back to the market since the recession, and leasing has gradually returned as a larger part of many lender strategies.”
Since leasing is used as a tool to obtain a vehicle for less than the cost of a loan, or in lieu of paying out a lump sum, one might expect the most popular cars leased to be cheaper, affordable models. Interestingly, many of the most popular leases — based on data by Swapalease.com — show that many premium brands and models are among the most commonly leased vehicles. Here are nine highlights:
1. Audi A4
With an average monthly lease price of $495.54, the cost of the Audi A4 actually came down 11 percent in May since April, when the car cost an average of $556.72. In May of last year, the A4 would have cost $454.26 — 9.1 percent less.
2. BMW X5
At $852.60 per month, the BMW X5 is far and away the most expensive vehicle listed. The X5′s lease actually swelled slightly over the last month, up 0.4 percent from the $848.89 people were paying in April, although it was up 4.6 percent since the same period of 2012.
3. Cadillac CTS
General Motors’ (NYSE:GM) flagship luxury sedan ran the leasing party $468.39 in May, a 5.7-percent gain over April — but a 10.3 percent decline over the $522.39 that it ran in May of 2012.
4. Chevrolet Cruze
One of the most affordable leases in the Swapalease report, the Cruze cost just $214 per month in May, a substantial 22 percent than the $274.21 that it ran in April. Overall, the Cruze has come down 11.8 percent in its monthly cost over the last year.
5. Ford Fusion
The $355.42 that people were paying in May was 2.4 percent more than in April, when the lease for the best-selling Ford (NYSE:F) Fusion cost $347.02. More impressively, it is 33 percent more than the $266.55 that the older generation ran back in May of 2012.
6. Honda Accord
Redesigned models seem to certainly run a premium. The new Honda (NYSE:HMC) Accord costed $386.37 to lease in May, a 39-percent surge over April’s $276.73 monthly stipend, but only 4.3 percent over the same month last year.
7. Nissan Altima
Keeping in trends with the higher-cost of a redesign trend, Nissan’s $343.41 average lease price for the Altima was 11 percent more than the $309.42 charged in April and 2.3 percent more than May of 2012′s asking price of $335.57.
8. Toyota Corolla
Rivaling the Chevy Cruze for price, Toyota (NYSE:TM) dropped the cost of a Corolla from $308.90 in April to $234.05 in May, a decline of 24.4 percent to remain on the same playing field as its compact competition. Oddly, the cost is 6.1 percent over the car’s cost in May of 2012, when it ran $220.49 per month.
9. Volkswagen Jetta
Finally, the Volkswagen Jetta, which cost $316.51 to lease in May, nearly level with the $315.76 that it cost in April. It’s still higher than the $309.55 that it ran for in 2012, but overall, the Jetta has stayed quite consistent in comparison.