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Best Lease Deals On Small And Midsize SUVs For May 2021

Best Lease Deals On Small And Midsize SUVs For May 2021

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Best Lease Deals May 2021
2021 Hyundai Kona Electric, the very best lease deal for May. . Kia

These Best Lease Deals for SUVs and Crossovers are priced to move. Notice there are several 2020 models alongside the 2021s, among this month’s Best Lease Deals, as rated by Market Scan.

That’s surprising for two reasons. One, because there’s a widely reported shortage of new vehicles in almost every product category. Two, because it’s May, and automakers make every effort to sell off last year’s models before Jan. 1. Overnight, it gets harder to sell a 2020 model in 2021, and “overnight” was five months ago. 

Ideally for the automakers, there are only a very few 2020 models left. Several of these Best Lease Deals on leftover models are for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, which as a category are low-volume sellers, about 2% of the U.S. market.

Market Scan monitors pricing data, and rates Best Lease Deals based in part on the ratio between the average best monthly payment vs. the average suggested retail price for a given model. The Market Scan average suggested retail price is an “all-in” amount including taxes and dealer fees, so these Best Lease Deals are likely to be higher than what’s advertised on manufacturer web sites, and also closer what car-shoppers are likely to pay.

For these Best Lease Deals, Market Scan assumes a 36-month lease, for customers with prime-rated credit, specifically with a with a 720 credit score, and with 5% of suggested retail down in the form of cash from the customer. 

Only a handful of these vehicles make our lists of the Best SUVs for 2021, Best Midsize SUVs For 2021, or Best Small SUVs And Crossovers For 2021. But in a world where there are almost no terrible SUVs or crossovers, there’s a lot to be said for affordability. 

Best Lease Deals, for EV, Hybrid SUVs/Crossovers

2020 & 2021 Hyundai Kona EV

2020 Hyundai Kona EV
Hyundai Kona EV: the best lease deal for May 2021, measuring 36 monthly payments versus the suggested average retail price. The 2020 Kona EV is an even better deal than the 2021, if you can find one. For the 2020, the three years of payments equals just 20% of the $42,583.33 average suggested retail price. Hyundai

Average Price:

  • 2020: $42,583.33 avg. suggested retail; $238.33 avg. best monthly lease payment (captive) 
  • 2021: $42,783.33, avg. suggested retail; $311.18 avg. best monthly lease payment (captive) 

Why We Picked It: 

Market Scan rated the 2020 Hyundai Kona EV as the Best Lease Deal for all SUVs/Crossovers for May, not just electric ones, followed closely by the 2021 model, based on really cheap monthly payments, versus suggested retail north of $40,000. Hyundai wants to sell off the old models ASAP, because for the 2022 model year, the 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 in June. Click here for more on the Hyundai Kona EV


  • Estimated range of 258 miles on a full charge, based on Hyundai internal testing
  • Federal tax credit up to $7,500
  • Power is not-bad at 201 horsepower; torque is pretty good at 291 foot-pounds


  • Rear legroom is snug (34.6 inches)
  • Limited cargo capacity for a small crossover
  • EV Kona only offered in some states 

2020 & 2021 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid

2021 kia niro
Kia Niro plug-in hybrid goes 26 miles on battery, then becomes a traditional hybrid and helps the Niro get 48 mpg city, 44 mpg highway. Recharge it at night and there’s another 26 battery-powered miles the next day. Kia

Average Price:

  • 2020: $34,176.67 avg. suggested retail; $328.39 avg. best monthly lease payment (captive) 
  • 2021: $34,176.67 avg. suggested retail; $339.78 avg. best monthly lease payment (captive) 

Why We Picked It: 

The Kia Niro is a plug-in hybrid. What are now considered “conventional” hybrids recharge the battery by running the onboard gasoline engine. A plug-in hybrid does, too, when you’re out for a drive and the battery gets depleted. But in routine operation, a plug-in hybrid gets recharged at home or office by plugging it in, and that’s more efficient and cheaper to operate. Click here to read more on the Kia Niro.


  • 48 mpg city/44 mpg highway, 26 miles on battery 
  • Eligible for a federal tax credit of $4,543
  • ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist Systems) even on the base model


  • Front-drive only
  • Not much cargo space 

2020 & 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

2021 outlander phev 3
2020 and 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrids are among the best lease deals. Mitsubishi

Average Price:

  • 2020: $40,190 avg. suggested retail; $407.66 avg. best monthly lease payment (captive) 
  • 2021: $39,956.67 avg. suggested retail; $410.25 avg. best monthly lease payment (captive) 

Why We Picked It: 

It’s worth a few dollars more per month to get the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-Hybrid vs. the 2020, even though based strictly on the price vs. suggested retail, Market Scan rates the Best Lease Deal on the 2020 model slightly higher. The 2021 model gets a bigger, slightly more powerful, four-cylinder gasoline engine; a bigger, more powerful battery pack for the electric motor; 24 miles of electric-only range, up from 22 miles; plus a bigger federal tax incentive. Driver Assist features like Blind Spot Warning and Lane Change Assist are standard. Click here for details on the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid.


  • All-wheel-drive standard
  • 24 miles of battery range
  • Federal tax incentives: $6,587 for the 2021 model; $5,836 for the 2020


  • So-so driving experience
  • No third row as on non-PHEV Outlander 
  • Small 11.3-gallon gas tank limits driving range to less than 300 miles

Best Lease Deals, for Subcompact SUVs/Crossovers

2021 & 2020 Ford EcoSport 

Ford factory incentive
Ford says the EcoSport is America’s smallest crossover/SUV. It’s also the first Ford made in India and sold in the U.S. Ford

Average Price:

  • 2021: $25,750.71 avg. suggested retail; $239.13 avg. best monthly lease payment (non-captive) 
  • 2020: $25,712.86 avg. suggested retail; $262.87 avg. best monthly lease payment (non-captive) 

Why We Picked It: 

Market Scan rated the Best Lease Deal on the 2021 model year Ford EcoSport a bit higher than the 2020 Ford EcoSport, since the monthly payment works out to be slightly lower, on basically the same average suggested retail price. First introduced to the U.S. market in 2018, the Ford EcoSport is Ford’s first North American import made in India. It’s a rare example of an entry-level model from the domestic brands. That category might not be around much longer as the domestics prefer to sell bigger, more profitable pickups, SUVs and crossovers. Click here to read our review of the Ford EcoSport.


  • Easy parking; at 161 inches, Ford says it’s the smallest crossover sold. 
  • Sync 3 infotainment system works well 
  • Tows 1,400-2,200 pounds


  • Few advanced safety assists other than blind-spot warning
  • Just 28 mpg combined with three-cylinder engine (four-cylinder optional)
  • Leisurely acceleration (10-11 seconds to 60 mph) 

2021 Buick Encore GX  

Buick Encore GX
The Buick Encore GX is 3 inches longer than the Encore. It’s now the best-selling Buick. Buick

Average Price: 

  • $28,195 avg. suggested retail
  • $286.92 avg. best monthly lease payment (captive) 

Why We Picked It: 

The Buick Encore GX became Buick’s best-selling model in the U.S. market soon after it debuted in early 2020. Sizewise, it’s a tweener: three inches longer than the even-smaller Buick Encore, but smaller in turn than the Buick Envision and Enclave crossovers. A Wi-Fi hotspot comes standard along with OnStar (but needs a data plan). This month’s Best Lease Deal on the Buick Encore GX is through parent GM’s captive finance company, GM Financial. The deal helps Buick protect an increase in its slim U.S. market share, to 1.2% through March 31, up from 1% a year ago. Click here to read our review of the Buick Encore GX


  • Strong package of standard safety assists
  • Upscale feel inside 
  • Good space for its size (171 inches)


  • Stronger of the three-cylinder turbo engines is not quick (10 seconds 0-60)
  • Looks sportier than it drives
  • Sticker price is high versus mainstream competitors (but this is a lease where the monthly payment matters)

2021 & 2020 Chevrolet Trax

Get them while they’re here: Analysts wonder whether the Chevrolet Trax will survive the 2021 model year. Meanwhile, there are good deals on both the 2020 and 2021 models. Chevrolet

Average Price:

  • 2021: $24,045 avg. suggested retail; $247.13 avg. best monthly lease payment (captive) 
  • 2020: $25,788.33 avg. suggested retail; $268.71 avg. best monthly lease payment (captive) 

Why We Picked It: 

The Chevy Trax is affordable, and apparently less scarce than a lot of other new vehicles nowadays, considering Chevrolet is still offering Best Lease Deals on leftover 2020 models, as well as 2021s. 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. Market Scan rates the deal on the 2021 model a little better than the 2020. Click here to read our review of the Chevrolet Trax


  • Roomy (in front)
  • Good features set for its price
  • All-wheel drive is available 


  • Aging design dates to 2015 
  • Could use more standard safety equipment 
  • Center stack display just 7 inches diagonal 

Best Lease Deals, for Midsize SUVs/Crossovers

2020 Ford Edge

Ford Edge
With sales down this year, the 2020 Ford Edge is getting marketing support dollars from Ford. This is the Edge ST-Line targeting performance enthusiasts. Ford

Average Price:

  • $38,267.78 avg. suggested retail
  • $385.99 avg. best monthly lease payment (captive) 

Why We Picked It: 

According to press reports, some analysts speculate the Ford Edge might not be replaced when the current model’s lifecycle runs out in 2023. 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. (Advertised specials on a loan include $3,000 cash back and $3,000 trade-in allowance; offers may vary by region.) Click here to read our review of the Ford Edge.


  • Good interior space for a midsize SUV 
  • Good driver assists on all trim lines vai Ford Co=Pilot360 
  • Excellent infotainment 


  • Interior looks dated 
  • Underwhelming ST performance trim 
  • Outshined by competitors and other Ford SUVs 

2021 Chevrolet Traverse

Chevrolet Traverse
The Chevrolet Traverse is as long, and roomy, as midsize SUVs can be. A facelifted 2022 model arrives this summer, thus tempting discounts on the 2021s Bill Howard

Average Price:

  • $41,459.71 avg. suggested retail
  • $434.69 avg. best monthly lease payment (non-captive) 

Why We Picked It: 

Chevrolet has already announced the Chevy Traverse gets a facelift in the third quarter of 2021, for the 2022 model year, with new front and rear styling, and more standard safety features on all trim levels. That makes it time to offer discounts on the 2021 model, so consumers are less tempted to wait for the new one. (On loans, Chevrolet is advertising 10% off suggested retail on most models.) It seems to be working. Traverse sales were up 26% in the first quarter vs. a year ago. Click here to read our review of the Chevrolet Traverse.


  • Good space for passengers (including row three) and cargo
  • Idiot-proof infotainment, standard Wi-Fi 
  • Tows 5,000 pounds with trailer package 


  • Want the safest Traverse? Add $20K to the price 
  • Kia, Hyundai SUVs outshine the Traverse
  • 204-inch length makes it hard to park 

Best Lease Deal, for Luxury Compact SUVs/Crossover

2020 Infiniti QX50

2020 Infiniti QX50 luxury SUVs under 50K
With additional safety assists made standard on the 2021s, Infiniti has attractive lease deals on leftover 2020s. Infiniti

Average Price:

  • $46,895 avg. suggested retail
  • $480.65 avg. best monthly lease payment (captive)

Why We Picked It: 

Infiniti may have decided that while they last, the 2020 Infiniti QX50 needed an extra marketing push in the form of a Best Lease Deal. For the 2021 model year, the brand made standard on several QX50 grade levels features that were optional for 2020, like heated front seats, Intelligent Cruise Control, Distance Control Assist, Blind Spot Intervention, and Lane Departure Prevention. Nevertheless, Infiniti points out that last year’s model received a 2020 Consumer Guide Automotive Best Buy Award. Click here to read our review of the Infiniti QX50.


  • Variable compression engine helps QX50 gets 29 mpg (28 with AWD)
  • Class-leading interior space, Infiniti says 
  • Strong standard safety technologies 


  • Dual touchscreen infotainment has a learning curve
  • Engine sounds noisy at times 
  • Power lag from continuously variable transmission (CVT)

Best Lease Deal, for Large SUV/Crossover

2021 Toyota Highlander

2021 Toyota Highlander
The Toyota Highlander is a well-regarded midsize SUV, it’s selling well … and still Toyota is underwriting attractive lease deals. Toyota

Average Price:

  • $43,754 avg. suggested retail
  • $458.17 avg. best monthly lease payment (non-captive) 

Why We Picked It: 

The 2021 Toyota Highlander was also among the Best Lease Deals for SUVs/Crossovers last month, and this month’s offer is $25 cheaper on the monthly payment. It’s a good deal, on a popular model. The XSE grade has specially calibrated power steering and a tuned suspension to combat the Highlander’s disconnected driving feel. Highlander had its best-ever U.S. sales in the month of March, and its first-quarter sales were up 33%. Click here to read our review of the Toyota Highlander.


  • Quiet, comfortable people hauler
  • Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ package of driver and safety assists
  • New-look, big-grille Toyota exterior (some like it)


  • Confusing center stack buttons, on-screen controls
  • Cramped third row, smallish cargo area
  • New-look, big-grille Toyota exterior (some don’t like it) 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is it better to lease or buy?

A lease means you get a new car every two or three years. The same payment delivers more car for the money than buying, but you never own the car, so it’s like a long-term rental. Buying a car means you own it once the payments are finished. People find they get more car (bigger, or a higher trim line) through a lease.

What’s a captive versus non-captive lease? 

A captive finance company is the one owned or controlled by the automaker. The opposite is a bank or finance company independent of the automaker. According to Market Scan, captive finance companies dominate leasing because they get incentive money from the automakers. Independent lenders offer fewer leases, but they compete by picking and choosing to offer leases where they see an advantage, such as a model or a brand with high resale values.

These are the best lease deals? They’re all higher than what’s advertised by automakers and dealers.

They’re higher because we’re showing real-world numbers, not teaser amounts used in advertising. The numbers here reflect what the typical lessee (the person who leases the car) pays each month. They’re based on the average suggested retail price for that model, including higher trim levels as opposed to a stripped-down base model, plus dealer fees, taxes, registration fees, etc. These are what’s called all-in numbers. 

Can I get a lease payment as good as the ones here?

These are the best (lowest) monthly payments available for the average configuration for these 10 vehicles and a lessee with a good credit rating. It gives you an idea of where to start negotiations. It helps to comparison-shop a couple of dealers. Odds are the automaker’s advertised lease on marketing material will be lower because it doesn’t include popular options, plus all the fees and taxes. 

When Is the best time of month to lease? 

Whether it’s a lease or outright sale, in the last several days of the month, the sales reps, the dealerships, and auto company executives want to move more cars to earn rewards or bonuses. The end of each quarter brings a little more pressure to move cars and the end of the year brings even more. 

A vehicle in the last year of its six- to seven-year model life often has a better deal than a vehicle in its first or second year. Automakers want to move end-of-model-life cars off dealer lots before all-new models arrive.  

What’s the difference between an SUV and a crossover? 

Traditionally, SUV has been a vehicle built like a truck, meaning a body bolted onto a ladder-like steel frame, often referred to as body-on-frame. Crossover has meant a vehicle that’s welded all in one piece, or a unibody. By that definition, most of what people now call SUVs are actually crossovers, with some exceptions, like the body-on-frame Toyota 4Runner.

Crossovers also tend to be smaller subcompact or compact vehicles such as the Hyundai Kona, Lexus UX or the Toyota RAV4, the best-selling non-pickup in the U.S. SUVs are big vehicles such as the Chevrolet Suburban, Lincoln Navigator, or Cadillac Escalade, built with body on frame. (Full-size SUVs from non-U.S. automakers are often unibody.) In the middle are midsize vehicles such as the Toyota Highlander or Honda Passport, mostly unibody. One more distinction is that a vehicle called a crossover is expected to ride like a passenger car; a vehicle called an SUV wants to be seen as rugged. These distinctions may matter more within the auto industry.

So: SUV can be used for any size vehicle. Crossover refers more to small and midsize vehicles. Terms such as crossover utility vehicle (CUV) and sports activity vehicle are mostly automakers saying, “We’re different.” 


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