A Tale of Two Leases: Upgrading May Cost More Than You Think
Consider more than your monthly payments when leasing a car.
Web2Carz Senior Writer
Published: October 15th, 2012
Gas and insurance are two major factors that one must consider.
stute car buyers know that some cars share platforms with more luxurious models—this is often the case with Toyota and its Lexus luxury line, as well as with Honda/Acura and Nissan/Infiniti. New-car shoppers who intend to lease might decide that it's worth the extra money to go for the more-expensive model, but is it over the long run, when maintenance costs are figured in?
We started with a loaded 2012 Toyota Camry XLE V-6 (our $2,500 option package had a navigation system, a premium audio system, Toyota's Entune infotainment suite, and a blind-spot alert system). We compared that to a base 2013 Lexus ES350, which is virtually identical mechanically to the Camry. For simplicity's sake, we didn’t add any option packages to the Lexus.
We used each brand's "build your own" feature online and a Chicago-area ZIP code to price out each car, and followed up with calls to a local Toyota and Lexus dealer.
The Camry can be leased for $33,410 (including the $795 destination fee) and that took us to a $537 monthly payment over 36 months with a 15,000-mile per year limit when leasing. $1,187 would be due at signing, including a $650 destination fee.
For the Lexus, the car cost $36,995 without options. It would cost $593 a month for a 36-month lease and a 15,000-mile yearly limit to lease the base ES with $510 down and a $700 acquisition fee at signing. $1,803 would be due at lease signing.
When we inquired about maintenance costs, we found that for the Camry, an oil change cost $44.95 plus tax (prices will vary based on location) and a tire rotation costs $22.95. For the Lexus, a 5,000-mile service, which includes both the oil change and tire rotation, the cost is $100. It's important to note that both cars use synthetic oil, which costs more than non-synthetic oil, and that semi-major services, like those performed at the 15,000-mile and 30,000-mile marks, will cost more, although it's worth noting that Toyota is offering ToyotaCare, a complimentary maintenance program, for the first two years or 25,000 miles. The first main service (5,000 miles) is complimentary for the Lexus.
Gas and insurance are the two other major factors that one must consider. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Camry gets 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, while the ES gets 21/31. The EPA claims that it will cost $2,300 per year in gas to operate the Camry and $2,400 for the Lexus. Even though both cars get similar mileage numbers (the Camry's 25 mpg combined does the Lexus one better), the Lexus has a gas tank that's 0.4 gallons bigger. That adds $1 to each fillup, likely explaining the discrepancy in the numbers.
Insurance is a bigger difference. Using Esurance.com (the numbers will vary depending on a number of factors, such as driving record), we found that the Camry would cost $130.11 a month to insure while the Lexus would cost $152.94 a month. That means a $273.96 difference over 12 months.
Adding it all up, including what's due at lease signing, the Camry will cost $32,714.06 over the term of the 36-month lease while the Lexus will run you $36,656.84. That's a $3,942.78 difference over three years for a difference in monthly payments (not even factoring in the $31 difference in down payment) of $56.
Whether it's worth the nearly $4,000 extra over three years is a call that you, the buyer, would have to make. The Lexus will offer nicer materials and a more-premium dealership experience. Whether that's worth the cost of a really nice vacation is up to you.Related Vehicles: 2013 lexus es 350 | 2012 toyota camry