Best Leased Car Brands

best car lease brandsCar leasing has become popular again with automotive consumers after the near-meltdown in 2009 when the car industry, and the economy, was suffering through the worst of a worldwide recession. Nationally, leasing accounts for about 25% of car sales across all brands, and it’s growing as consumers continue to look for affordable ways to drive new cars. In fact, leasing is growing faster than sales.

As stated, the average rate at which cars are leased, not purchased, is about 25%. However, that rate is much higher for car brands and car companies that are “lease-friendly.” The average rate is dragged down by brands that aren’t as interested in leasing or who don’t have good leasing programs.

Generally speaking, American car companies such as Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors were the hardest hit during the recession and practically stopped leasing altogether. As a result, they’ve been the ones who have been slow to return. On the other hand, Japanese and European brands continued to lease and are now the strongest in lease financing. Leasing rates are highest with luxury brands, in the 50%-70% range.

We have listed the top car leasing brands below. The rankings are based on a combination of “lease-friendliness,” the number of leases on the most models, and the value of the leases — how good the lease deals they offer. A company that has a good leasing program and that offers excellent lease incentives on most of its vehicles ranks high in our list. Other companies who are not as interesting in leasing and don’t often offer good lease incentives are low on our list, or are not on the list at all.

Here’s our list of best car lease brands:

1. BMW – Month after month BMW offers some of the best lease deals in the business, on about 50 different models and styles (“trim levels”). The deals are consistently rated Excellent to Outstanding by Furthermore, the company offers free scheduled maintenance for 4 years or 50,000 miles.

2. Mercedes – Although not quite as consistent as BMW and not as many models and styles are offered at great lease rates, Mercedes is still one of the best lease companies. The deals are nearly always rated Excellent to Outstanding, which makes them well worth considering if you are in the market for a fine luxury automobile. Even their normal, non-promotional leases are generally good deals because lease-end residual values are very high for Mercedes vehicles. 

3. Honda – Honda doesn’t offer special leases on every model or every style but their incentive leases are always rated Good to Excellent.  They are the industry leader in offering leases that require no down payment — or with a down payment but lower payment. It’s nice to have a choice. However the company’s non-incentive leases are always very good because of high lease-end residuals and low money factors (lease rate). Honda would probably have more aggressive deals if they had to. But they don’t — Hondas sell themselves.

4. Acura - Being a Honda brand, Acura’s lease deals are very similar, with limited coverage of models and styles, and $0 due-at-signing offers.

5. Volkswagen – Volkswagen, having a good lease program, is serious about leasing and consistently offers great deals on nearly its entire model line. With low finance rates and high residual values, even most normal Volkswagen leases are good deals.

6. Volvo – Volvo also has a good lease program that typically offers attractive sign-and-drive deals on its entire product line. Most of the deals are rated Outstanding by Normal leases are not quite as good due to only-average residual values.

7. Hyundai – Hyundai regularly, but not always, offers good lease deals on its entire model line, many with $0 due at signing (no down payment, no security deposit, no first month’s payment). Many of the leases have monthly payments less than $200.

8. Ford – Ford has just recently gotten back to serious leasing after the recent recession. The company is currently (at the time of this writing) offering a limited number of good sign-and-drive leases ($0 due at signing) on a few models and styles. Normal leases aren’t especially good deals due to relatively low lease-end residual values.

9. Toyota – Although Toyota vehicles have high lease-end residual values and normal non-promotional leases are usually very good, the company’s incentive lease program is a mixed-bag and not consistent. This is partially due to the fact that it has five major distributors in the U.S. and each has its own financial arm that calls the shots on leases and incentives. There might be a great deal in Texas that is not available in Florida. Regardless, the company has never been especially aggressive with incentives — because they don’t have to be. Toyota vehicles have a great reputation and sell themselves. The Toyota Camry has been the best-selling car in America for years.

10. Nissan – Nissan’s leasing program is not always consistent. Promotional incentive leases vary from month to month, model to model. They frequently offer a few $0 down deals that are well worth considering. Normal non-promotional leases are average to good.

11. General Motors – General Motors brands (Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, GMC) are also making a comeback from the recession with a few good lease deals on selected models and styles. Buick, in particular, is offering (at the time of this writing) a number of 24-month lease incentive deals. The deals are rated Outstanding by The current Buick deals come with 2 years free maintenance, 2 years of satellite radio, and 2 years of OnStar. Chevrolet has a number of excellent leases, some with no cash due at signing ($0 down payment, $0 security deposit, and $0 first month’s payment). Cadillac often, but not always, offers a couple of attractive incentive lease deals, sometimes with $0 due at signing.

12. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles( Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat) has made the poorest progress in making a leasing comeback. It doesn’t have a mature leasing program now but says that it plans to be more aggressive in coming months. Normal leases are not especially good deals due to low residual values.


We’ve discussed those car companies that offer the best special lease deals. However, when these deals are offered, they are limited to customers who are low-risk and have good credit scores. The details are usually spelled out in the “fine print” of the ads or commercials that describe the deals. If you think you may be interested in a lease from one of the above mentioned companies, it’s a good idea to know your most recent credit score before you make your dealer visit. It’s easy enough. If you don’t know your current FICO credit score and rating, you should. What’s your FICO score? Find out now when you check your credit report for $1 at!


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