Sales of crossovers and SUVs have overwhelmed the market. But while trunks are an endangered species, there are still compelling sedans in the marketplace. The question here, and it's a question C/D just decided to ask for the sake of this piece, is what's the better lease deal right now: sedans or crossovers?
Manufacturers usually divide up sedan and crossover offerings into three segments: small, not-small, and bigger-than-that. So, generally, the companies that build both sedans and crossovers have vehicles that sit in parallel market segments. Here, we let them fight it out. Camry vs. RAV4; Accord vs. CR-V; Charger vs. Durango; you get the idea. We chose some of the best and then decided which we'd rather have, sedan or crossover.
Our regular reminder: There's no substitute for the hard work of research when it comes to getting the best deal. Whether you want a sedan or a crossover, this should be the beginning of that research.
Remember to Negotiate
The cost of a lease is rather straightforward. You (the lessee) pay for the depreciation of the vehicle over the lease term and the cost of the money the lessor is using to purchase the vehicle, plus additional items such as security deposits, acquisition fees, disposition charges, and anything else the creative accountants can come up with. Basically, you pay some of the capital costs and fees up front in the form of your initial payment, and then a monthly charge that varies with expense and depreciation.
Every element of a lease is negotiable. Purchase price, money factor (interest rate), and rarely, but sometimes, depreciation and all those additional charges that get tacked on in the normal course of business. Always shop for the money first, don't negotiate on the basis of monthly payments, and never be afraid to ask for a little more Splenda to sweeten the deal.
1. Acura TLX vs. RDX
Acura's TLX is a sedan that's easy to overlook. It's not a dominating performance machine, but it's an easygoing everyday driving companion. And Acura offers some keen lease deals on the TLX. One of the best is a $279 per month, 36-month lease on a front-drive, 206-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder TLX equipped with the eight-speed dual-clutch paddle-shifted transmission. It requires only $2499 at signing and includes 10,000 miles per year of use. That's a total cost of $12,264 for the entire lease. Acura also offers a $389 per month lease, also after $2499 at signing, on the TLX equipped with the V-6, nine-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive. Both deals require you to be coming out of a qualified competitive lease.
Meanwhile, there's the RDX crossover, which can be leased for as little as $379 per month after $2999 at signing. That includes the standard 272-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, but not all-wheel drive. The terms are otherwise identical to the TLX's. Do the math, and that's $16,264 total cost for an RDX lease. That's okay-ish.
Lease Battle Winner: TLX Sedan
2. Cadillac CT6 vs. XT6
The worst thing about the CT6 sedan and XT6 crossover is their dopey names. Get beyond that and they are nice-looking, slick-driving machines. And the standard powerplant in both is GM's 3.6-liter V-6. It's rated at 335 horsepower in the CT6 and 310 hp in the XT6. While the CT6 is standard with all-wheel drive, the XT6 starts with front drive and offers all-wheel drive as an option.
From a sheer driving-enjoyment standpoint, the CT6 blows away the XT6. And the CT6 is vastly better-looking. Caddy's featured lease on the CT6 goes off at $569 per month for a long 39 months after an initial $4939 and includes 32,500 miles of use. The XT6 offer is for $499 per month for 36 months after $3589 at signing and it goes for 30,000 miles of use. That's a total of $27,156 for the three-month-longer CT6 lease and $21,649 for the XT6. It's a squeaker here because the nicer CT6 is more expensive, but we're comparing Cadillacs to Cadillacs, so . . .
Lease Battle Winner: CT6 Sedan
3. Dodge Charger vs. Durango
Both the Charger sedan and the Durango crossover are ancient products that will apparently live forever. Old-school machinery has its charms. Dodge offers both vehicles in various regional lease deals. The subject here will be leases offered in both Southern California and Chicago. Both the Charger and Durango in this case are powered by FCA's 292-hp 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 backed by an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Charger GT with rear-wheel drive goes off at $389 per month on a 42-month lease that includes a generous 42,000 miles of use. It takes $3949 at signing. The rear-drive Durango SXT Plus is cheaper at $299 per month after $3849 at signing on a 36-month, 36,000-mile lease. So that's 49 cents per mile for the Durango and 48 cents per mile for the Charger. Do you really want to keep a Charger around for 42 months?
Lease Battle Winner: Durango Crossover
4. Honda Accord vs. CR-V
For decades, the Accord was Honda's best-selling vehicle. But now the CR-V crossover is Honda's bestie. Go figure. However, while the Accord has been on C/D's 10Best list a record 33 times, the CR-V has earned a spot only . . . wait . . . never. But it did hit our Five Best Trucks list twice. Still, it's 33 vs. 2.
Honda will lease an Accord LX for $249 per month on a 36-month, 36,000-mile lease after $2499 at signing. Meanwhile, it offers the CR-V LX with all-wheel drive for $279 per month on 36-month/36,000-mile lease after $3099 at signing. So the Accord is $1650 cheaper over the length of the lease. And it's the better vehicle.
Lease Battle Winner: Accord Sedan
5. Mazda 6 vs. CX-5
Mazda will lease either a 6 sedan or a CX-5 crossover for $239 per month on a 36-month/36,000-mile lease. Both are the Sport trim with front-wheel drive. But it takes $2999 to start the CX-5's lease and only $2499 to start up the 6's.
As good as the Mazda 6 is, and it really is good, the CX-5 is one of the very best-driving small SUVs around. So good, in fact, that it has once again made C/D's 10Best list this year.
Lease Battle Winner: CX-5 Crossover
6. Toyota Camry vs. RAV4
Except for the domestic-brand full-size pickup trucks, no vehicle sells better in the United States than Toyota's RAV4 crossover. And no sedan sells better than the Camry. And both are powered, in four-cylinder form, by the same 2.4-liter engine.
Toyota's lease deals vary greatly by region. With that in mind, this is a short story, so let's look at the very best offers on 2020 models. In Southern California, a Camry LE can be leased at $249 per month after $1999 at signing for 36 months and 36,000 miles. Meanwhile, in Chicago the RAV4 can be had for $239 per month on a 36-month/36,000-mile lease after $2699 at signing with a $350 disposition fee at the end of the lease. That same lease on the RAV4 can be had for $319 per month with no money at signing. The Camry is truly a bargain at that lease rate—so move to L.A. and get it.