Edmunds: Consider leasing when new car prices soar

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This undated photo from Toyota shows the 2021 Prius Prime, a plug-in hybrid with about 25 miles of electric range. (Courtesy of Toyota via AP)

New and used car prices remain high as a global semiconductor chip shortage, combined with increased consumer demand, has caused a shortage of vehicles on dealer lots. The situation is expected to last many months, making it hard on people who are in need of a car today.

“If you can’t find the truck or SUV of your dreams out there but still need to jump into a new vehicle, leasing is a great solution,” said Ivan Drury, Edmunds’ senior manager of insights.

Leasing a car now provides a number of advantages over a traditional financed purchase. To start with, you don’t have to put as much money down. Additionally, the monthly payments are lower compared to those you’d have to make for the same vehicle but with a loan.

“Since leases are usually a much shorter time commitment than buying, this allows you to test the waters on a new brand or vehicle type you hadn’t previously considered,” said Drury. “By the time you come back to the market, the inventory situation will be in a much better place.”

With this in mind, our analysts have combed through transaction data and found these vehicles that provide significant savings when leased rather than financed. The vehicles are listed in order of highest net savings from leasing.

2021 TOYOTA PRIUS PRIME

Edmunds editors say: The Prius Prime has a bigger battery than standard Prius and can be charged at home. It can go about 25 miles using all-electric power. For many people, that’s more than enough for around-town driving. Once the battery is depleted, the Prius’ hybrid powertrain takes over and delivers excellent fuel efficiency.

Buying notes: The Prius Prime is a great way to reduce fuel costs, and the average lease offers an impressive 50% savings off the monthly payment if you were to finance.

Average finance monthly payment: $613

Average lease monthly payment: $306

Savings: $307 per month

2021 RAM 1500

Edmunds editors say: The Ram 1500 offers uncommonly smooth driving manners because of its distinct rear suspension design. You also get an upscale interior highlighted by the optional 12-inch infotainment display. The V6 and V8 engines are both solid choices, but the diesel-powered V6 is also worth considering for its higher fuel efficiency and stout towing capability.

Buying notes: Truck buyers tend to be pretty brand loyal, but if you were considering a full-size pickup, the Ram is worth trying out not only for the savings but also because it’s one of Edmunds’ top-rated.

Average finance monthly payment: $779

Average lease monthly payment: $534

Savings: $245 per month

2021 CHEVROLET BOLT EV

Edmunds editors say: The Chevrolet Bolt is a solid electric vehicle, especially with its 259 miles of range on a full battery charge. It’s an enjoyable EV to drive. The upright hatchback styling doesn’t stand out in a crowd, but the Bolt delivers solid green street cred and low-cost long-range performance.

Buying notes: Chevy had planned a major update of the Bolt this year but was delayed by the pandemic. You’ll see more substantial changes for the 2022 model year. The delay is partly why the deals are so good on the 2021, but just know that you won’t have the latest body style for long.

Average finance monthly payment: $440

Average lease monthly payment: $216

Savings: $224 per month

2021 CHEVROLET TAHOE

Edmunds editors say: People expect comfort, capability and convenience with a large SUV, and the Chevrolet Tahoe delivers. Redesigned for 2021, the Tahoe offers better interior space, increased cargo volume and a smoother ride over a wide variety of surfaces than the previous model. In short, it does a better job at being the family workhorse.

Buying notes: The average monthly payment is pretty high on these large SUVs, but for those who need to seat seven, tow or carry more cargo, opting for a lease in this case can save you 18% on average per month.

Average finance monthly payment: $1,066

Average lease monthly payment: $856

Savings: $210 per month

2021 KIA FORTE

Edmunds editors say: The Forte is a grown-up small sedan that’s a fantastic value considering its many features and long warranty. Other highlights include a comfortable, quiet interior and easy-to-use technology features. However, it lags behind top competitors in driving dynamics, ride quality and rear legroom.

Buying notes: The Forte’s savings might not seem dramatic, but in this price range, every dollar can make a difference.

Average finance monthly payment: $410

Average lease monthly payment: $268

Savings: $142 per month

EDMUNDS SAYS: We don’t typically recommend leasing as a long-term solution for saving money because ultimately it’s more expensive since you never own the vehicle. But the reality is buying a car in today’s unusual climate is a more expensive proposition than it was a few years ago.

This story was provided to The Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds. Ronald Montoya is a senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds. Twitter: @ronald_montoya8.

Related links:

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV review; 2021 Toyota Prius Prime review; 2021 Ram 1500 review; 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe review; 2021 Jeep Wrangler review; 2021 Kia Forte review.

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