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Best Lease Deals On Small And Midsize SUVs For June 2021
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Best Lease Deals On Small And Midsize SUVs For June 2021

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Best lease deals June 2021
2021 Cadillac XT5
The Cadillac XT5 midsize, two-row SUV is one of the best lease deals for June 2020. Cadillac

There are three newcomers on the list of the Top 10 Best Lease Deals for SUVs and Crossovers since last month: The 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport, the 2021 Cadillac XT5 and the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe make the Forbes Wheels June list of great lease deals. 

“We’ve been in conquest mode for quite some time,” said Randy Parker, senior vice president, national sales, for Hyundai Motor America. That is, Hyundai is gaining sales by winning customers away from other brands, and lease deals are an important part of that, he said in a phone interview. 

Market Scan also picked the 2020 and 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric Vehicle among the month’s best lease deals, in addition to the 2020 Santa Fe. Best of all from Hyundai’s point of view, Hyundai’s products often have such strong residual values, its leases don’t routinely require incentive support, Parker said. 

It would be logical if more shoppers turned to leasing, in an era of record-high transaction prices, fueled by high demand and low inventories of new vehicles. That’s because for any given vehicle, leasing pretty much always yields a lower monthly payment than a loan. 

In leasing, the customer in effect borrows the difference between the upfront cost of the vehicle, minus a predetermined estimate of what it will be worth at the end of the lease — that is, the residual value.

In a loan, the customer borrows the entire cost of the vehicle, minus a down payment and the value of a trade-in, if any. 


Best Lease Deals, for EV, Hybrid SUVs/Crossovers


2020 & 2021 Hyundai Kona EV 

Hyundai Kona EV
Hyundai Kona EV. Bloomberg

Average Price:

  • 2020: $42,583.33 average suggested retail; $235.58 average best monthly lease payment (captive) 
  • 2021: $42,783.33, average suggested retail; $302.82 average best monthly lease payment (captive) 

Why We Picked It: 

The Hyundai Kona EV repeats as Market Scan’s No. 1 choice as the Best Lease Deal for all SUVs/Crossovers for June, as it was in May. Average best monthly payments are even a few dollars lower than they were last month. As a reminder, Hyundai is clearing the shelves for the upcoming 2022 model year. The 2022 Kona EV gets new front and rear styling and new features that can be controlled remotely via smartphone, like turning heated seats on or off. The 2022 reaches showrooms starting this month. 

Pros:

  • Estimated range of 258 miles on a full charge, based on Hyundai internal testing
  • Federal tax credit up to $7,500
  • No extra charge for scheduled maintenance for 3 years/36,000 miles, whichever comes first

Cons:

  • Available only in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
  • There’s a visibly different 2022 model in the pipeline, if the latest exterior styling is a top priority.

2021 & 2020 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid 

2021 Kia Niro
Kia Niro. Kia

Average Price:

  • 2021: $34,176.67 average suggested retail; $312.42 average best monthly lease payment (captive)
  • 2020: $34,176.67 average suggested retail; $313.17 average best monthly lease payment (captive)

Why We Picked It: 

The Kia Niro plug-in hybrid also repeats as Market Scan’s No. 2 Best Lease Deal on SUVs/Crossovers. Like a “conventional” hybrid, a plug-in hybrid has both a battery powered electric motor and an onboard gasoline engine. As the name suggests, the battery in the plug-in hybrid can be recharged at home or office by plugging it in. That’s more efficient and cheaper to operate than a conventional hybrid, which recharges exclusively off of the onboard gasoline engine, and to a lesser extent by recovering some energy when the brakes are applied. 

Pros:

  • EPA-rated mileage 48 mpg city/44 mpg highway
  • Eligible for a federal tax credit of $4,543, according to Kia
  • Advanced Driver Assist Systems like Forward Collision Avoidance standard on the base model
  • No range anxiety – it’s got a gasoline engine as well as a 26-mile, electric-only range.

Cons:

  • Electric-only range is just 26 miles. The gasoline engine kicks in under heavy acceleration, or when the battery charge is low. Obviously, it’s not a zero-emission vehicle, if that’s your priority.
  • Recharges using regular household electricity. That’s easier and cheaper than having a 240-volt home recharging station installed, but it’s slower. It requires about 6 hours to fully recharge a depleted battery, according to recharging station manufacturer ChargePoint.

2021 Buick Encore GX

2021 Buick Encore
Buick Encore GX. Bill Howard

Average Price: 

  • $28,195 average suggested retail
  • $272.25 average best monthly lease payment (captive) 

Why We Picked It: 

The Buick Encore GX is Buick’s best-selling model in the U.S. market. It debuted in early 2020. It’s bigger by 3 inches than the really small Buick Encore (with no “GX”), but smaller in turn than the Buick Envision and Enclave crossovers. This month’s Best Lease Deals on the Buick Encore GX are about $15 cheaper per month than last month’s offer, or about $500 cheaper over the life of a 36-month lease. Click here to read our review of the Buick Encore GX. 

Pros:

  • Space is limited, but the front passenger seat folds flat, and the second row folds flat or 60-40, for the occasional (relatively) bulky item. 
  • Infotainment with standard, 8-in. color touch screen
  • Wi-Fi hotspot 

Cons:

  • It’s small. In an earlier ad campaign, Buick showed a valet parking guy looking all over for a car that looks like a Buick, when the actual Buick was right in front of him. That could describe the Buick Encore GX, too.
  • The Wi-Fi hot spot requires optional data plan.

2021 & 2020 Chevrolet Trax 

Chevrolet Trax
Chevrolet Trax. Chevrolet

Average Price:

  • 2021: $24,045 average suggested retail; $232.42 average best monthly lease payment (captive) 
  • 2020: $25,788.33 average suggested retail; $254 average best monthly lease payment (captive) 

Why We Picked It

Similar to the Buick Encore GX, this month’s Best Lease Deals on the Chevy Trax, another General Motors product, are about $15 cheaper per month than last month’s offer, or about $500 cheaper over the life of a 36-month lease. Trax sales fell 40% year to date through March 31 vs. a year ago, GM said. Some analysts question whether the Trax will be around after the 2021 model year. Click here to read our review of the Chevrolet Trax; it is essentially unchanged from 2020. 

Pros:

  • Comfortable interior in front.
  • Infotainment system with 7-inch touchscreen is standard.
  • It’s really small, the same platform as the Buick Encore.

Cons: 

  • Not much room in back.
  • It’s really small, the same platform as the Buick Encore.

2020 Ford Edge 

Ford Edge
Ford Edge. Bill Howard

Average Price:

  • $38,267.78 average suggested retail
  • $382.08 average best monthly lease payment (captive) 

Why We Picked It:

Some analysts speculate the Ford Edge might not be replaced when the current model’s lifecycle runs out, in 2023, according to press reports. Meanwhile, the company reported Ford Edge sales were down 25% year to date through March 31, vs. a year ago. Those are good reasons why the leftover 2020 Ford Edge might need some marketing support in the form of a Best Lease Deal, from Ford’s captive finance company, Ford Credit. Click here to read our review of the Ford Edge. The 2020 and 2021 are similar.

Pros:

  • Lots of connected features, such as a Wi-Fi hot spot.
  • Driver-assist includes Ford Co-Pilot360, a set of five standard features like Blind Spot Information System, Lane-Keeping Assist and more.
  • The (pricier) 2020 Ford Edge ST gets a 335-hp, turbo V-6.

Cons:

  • Some connected-car features require an optional subscription to FordPass Connect.
  • The 2020 model has the previous version of the Ford Sync 3 user interface, while the 2021 model gets Sync 4A, with a bigger, more legible screen in the center stack.

2020 Nissan Rogue Sport

2021 Nissan Rogue Sport
Nissan Rogue Sport. Nissan

Average Price:

  • $27,250 average suggested retail
  • $273.48 average best monthly lease payment (non-captive) 

Why We Picked It:

The Nissan Rogue Sport got new front and rear styling for the 2020 model year, plus safety and driver-assistance features as standard equipment that were previously standard only on the more expensive versions. The Nissan Rogue Sport is basically a smaller, more affordable version of the Nissan Rogue, with which it shares a platform. The 2020 Rogue Sport is visually more distinct from the larger Rogue, compared with earlier versions. The Nissan Rogue Sport originally debuted in 2017. Click here to read our overview of the Nissan Rogue Sport. 

Pros:

  • Improved safety features, like automatic emergency braking
  • New front styling includes taller, wider, V-shaped grille Nissan calls “V-motion.”
  • More distinct from the Nissan Rogue model

Cons: 

  • Size. Noticeably smaller (12 inches shorter) than the Nissan Rogue 
  • Reviewers complain acceleration is slow, despite the “Sport” name. 

2021 Cadillac XT5 

2021 Cadillac XT5
Cadillac XT5. Cadillac

Average Price:

  • $49,930 average suggested retail
  • $503.99 average best monthly lease payment (captive) 

Why We Picked It

The Cadillac XT5 is the brand’s second-best-selling vehicle in the U.S. market through the first quarter, behind the hulking Cadillac Escalade. The Cadillac XT5 was first launched in 2016, as a more car-like, crossover alternative to the Escalade. For the 2020 model year, the Cadillac XT5 got an oversize grille and a big Cadillac badge, part of an auto industry trend in branding. Click here to read our overview of the Cadillac XT5. 

Pros:

  • New standard features for 2021 include wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, and Amazon Alexa functionality.
  • New driver-assistance features, including (optional) night vision 
  • Stately ride. What Cadillac calls its “signature ride isolation.”

Cons: 

  • Pricey, with options; starting base price is $44,990 including destination and excluding taxes and fees, but Market Scan says the all-in, average suggested retail is more like $50,000.
  • Base engine is a 235-hp turbo four-cylinder; optional upgrade is a 310-hp V-6.

2020 Infiniti QX50 

2020 Infiniti QX50
Infiniti QX50. Infiniti
  • $46,895 average suggested retail
  • $480.66 average best monthly lease payment (captive)

Why We Picked It: 

The 2020 Infiniti QX50 is last year’s model, but Infiniti points out it received a 2020 Consumer Guide Automotive Best Buy Award. The 2020 Infiniti QX50 may need an extra marketing push, in light of improvements to the 2021 model, including more standard features, like heated front seats, Intelligent Cruise Control, Distance Control Assist, Blind Spot Intervention, and Lane Departure Prevention. Click here to read our review of the Infiniti QX50.

Pros:

  • The latest-generation Infiniti InTouch infotainment system, first introduced for the 2020 model year.
  • Turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 268 hp but still gets a not-bad, EPA-rated 29 mpg on the highway, with front-drive; 28 mpg with AWD.
  • Interior space is “class-leading,” according to Infiniti. The rear seat is adjustable, which helps.

Cons:

  • Only the expensive versions get features like heated front seats and Intelligent Cruise Control standard – a drawback Infiniti corrected for the 2021 model.
  •  Some reviewers don’t like the Infiniti QX50’s continuously variable transmission, which can get noisy at high speeds. The belt-driven CVT is a setup that’s shared with many other Nissan and Infiniti models. 

2020 Ford EcoSport 

Ford factory incentive
Ford EcoSport. Ford

Average Price:

  • $25,712.86 average suggested retail
  • $266.95 (non-captive)

Why We Picked It: 

Entry-level models from the domestic brands are getting hard to find, since they are concentrating on bigger, more profitable trucks. Meanwhile, readers may want to know captive finance company Ford Credit is offering a 24-month lease on the 2021 Ford EcoSport model at $199 per month, with $3,419 due at signing, also including a $4,000 cash incentive for qualified customers. That offer was slated to expire July 7. Unlike the Market Scan price, taxes, title and license fees are extra. Click here to read our review of the Ford EcoSport.

Pros:

  • Affordable. Starting price is as low as $21,640, including $1,245 destination charge.
  • Access is good for a small car, with four doors and a rear liftgate.
  • The other upside of its small size is, it could be handy for tight parking spaces.

Cons:

  • Ford says it’s the smallest crossover SUV on the market.
  • Considering it’s so small, EPA-estimated gas mileage is just OK, at 28 mpg city/highway combined, with a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder turbo, or 25 mpg combined, with a  naturally aspirated, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. 

2020 Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai Santa Fe
Hyundai Santa Fe. Hyundai

Average Price:

  • $33,810.38 average suggested retail
  • $355.38 (captive)

Why We Picked It: 

The Hyundai Santa Fe is perennially one of Hyundai’s best sellers in the United States, along with the Hyundai Tucson and the Hyundai Elantra. Standard safety features are impressive for the money, such as forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist. The 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe may not be around much longer before it’s sold out.

Pros:

  • Safety. For example, Hyundai was an early mover on a feature that warns the driver to check the back seat, to make sure they don’t leave a child behind.
  • Practicality. Fairly roomy interior, for passengers and cargo.
  • Terrific warranty, like other Hyundais: standard limited warranty 5 years/60,000 miles; powertrain 10 years/100,000 miles.

Cons:

  • Going, going, almost gone: Hyundai is close to selling out of its leftover 2020 models.
  • The optional engine upgrade, a more-powerful, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbo, is pretty pricey, an increase of $6,850.

Methodology

Market Scan Information Systems Inc., Camarillo, Calif., identifies Best Lease Deals based on constantly scanning actual offers in the market, and comparing the best average monthly lease payment it can find, vs. an average suggested retail price for that model. Market Scan’s monthly payment is all-inclusive, including options, taxes and dealer fees. Therefore, it may not be as low as special lease deals advertised on dealer and manufacturer web sites, which typically don’t include taxes or fees, and may be for a stripped-down model that lacks popular options. All of those factors would serve to raise the real-world monthly payment.

Market Scan also assumes: a 36-month lease term; a customer cash contribution of 5% of suggested retail; and a prime-rated credit score of 720.


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How much cheaper is a lease vs. a loan? 

In the first quarter, the latest quarter for which detailed statistics are available, the average monthly lease payment was $108 lower than the average loan payment — which was a hefty $577, according to Experian Automotive. That’s $3,888 cheaper, over a typical, 36-month lease. 

What’s the downside of leasing? 

The customer never builds up equity in the vehicle. So, at the end of the lease, there’s nothing to trade in towards the purchase or lease of the next vehicle. The monthly average lease payment is lower than the average monthly loan payment. But unlike a loan, a lease never gets paid off. Therefore, the customer never owns the vehicle, unless they exercise the option to buy it at lease end, at the residual value specified in the lease contract.

Isn’t it always the best deal to walk away at the end of a lease?

Historically, that’s probably correct, but maybe not today. Today, used-car values are soaring right along with new-car values. Therefore, many lease-end vehicles are worth a lot more than lenders expected, when they set the residual values in stone three years ago. It’s worth checking online shopping sites to see how much your vehicle is selling for, in your market, and comparing that with the residual value in your lease contract. You might be able to buy it for less than its present value. 

Aren’t leases just for luxury cars? 

Not at all. It’s true that leasing represents the lion’s share of retail volume for most luxury brands: more than 60% for Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo, according to Experian Automotive. That makes sense, since those customers face high sticker prices, they prefer having a car that’s no more than 3 years old, and they can afford to always have a car payment. But in terms of raw volume, mass-market brands account for the biggest number of leased cars and trucks. Leases account for just 28% of Toyota’s U.S. volume, but that represents around 12% of all leased vehicles, vs. less than 4% for Mercedes-Benz, Experian said.

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