If you want the nicest vehicle possible, try leasing instead of buying. Since you’re only financing a portion of the value, the monthly payment shrinks significantly versus if you were to buy the same vehicle. It can be a great way to get a new luxury car or SUV and still sneak under the $300 a month limit you might have.
Just know that while these vehicles do lease for sub-$300 rates, exactly what you pay to lease the following vehicles may vary, depending on your credit and other factors. As always, it’s best to shop around for the best possible deal.
If you’re down with the whole German four-door “coupe” thing, the Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 could be a great fit. You can lease one for $299 per month, making this the most affordable thing with the three-tip star on the front, at least in North America.
It packs a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 208 horsepower on tap. Mated to that is a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that adds some sportiness, plus shift paddles. Tech goodies include Attention Assist, active brake assist, and a rearview camera. The car also features 14-way power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, MB-Tex upholstery, and the ability to start the engine using your phone.
If the idea of a Mercedes-Benz car makes you laugh, the GLA 250 SUV has an MSRP that starts at $33,400. It uses the same engine as the CLA 250 and the same transmission. You do gain a large rear hatch and more cargo space, especially with those rear seats folded down.
Most of the other comfort and convenience features are shared with the CLA 250, making the GLA 250 compelling if you want a taller ride height and something that makes you feel more rugged.
An even more budget-friendly luxury SUV, the Infiniti QX30 has a starting MSRP of $29,950. That’s a nice price, considering you get niceties like a leather-wrapped steering wheel, six audio speakers, Bluetooth streaming audio, satellite radio, and Rearview Monitor.
Press on the accelerator, and the turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine will push a peak 208 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. The 7-speed double-clutch automatic helps keep things feeling smooth and responsive. For this price all-wheel drive isn’t in the cards.
Maybe you were captivated by the reflective Matthew McConaughey commercials or you really like the design, but if the Lincoln brand tickles your fancy, the MKC is a good budget-friendly option for a lease. The bottom-tier trim, called Premiere, can be leased for $273 per month. It uses the turbo 2.0-liter liter engine, which pushes 245 horsepower.
The standard features list is impressive, showing that Lincoln really wants to earn your business. Among them is intelligent access, push-button ignition, cruise control, Lincoln Connect, the MyKey system, LED map lights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote ignition, aluminum cabin trim pieces, and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Sure, you could look at this as a dressed-up last-gen Civic, but the ILX has been a surprisingly solid seller. Maybe it’s because the car can be leased for $199 and promises a trouble-free lease experience? People seem to love the 201-horsepwoer inline four-cylinder engine, 8-speed dual-clutch transmission, and 35 mpg highway fuel economy rating.
Demonstrating this isn’t exactly a Civic, the ILX can come with active sound control, an ELS Studio premium sound system, and LED headlights Acura likes to call “Jewel Eye.” Questionable styling choices aside, the ILX isn’t a bad car for the money. Plus, leasing lets you try out different options, and you might really enjoy the hassle-free experience with this car.
The LaCrosse is surprisingly affordable, with a lease price of $299. Buick calls the LaCrosse “a modern take on timeless elegance.” That’s obviously subjective, but this sedan is certainly nicer than other options you might be considering. Styling isn’t anything too over-the-top, which could be good or bad, depending on your preferences. The car can also come with the standard fare you’d expect with a luxury model: leather, heated seats, heated steering wheel, blind spot monitoring, etc.
As for the performance, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine squeezes out a timid 194 horsepower. Going with the 3.6-liter V-6 could push the monthly lease payment over your budget cap. All-wheel drive is available as well, which is a nice addition, if you can swing it.
Even more affordable is the Buick Encore, which can be leased for $159 per month. This tiny SUV is great if you park in crowded urban areas, have a small garage, etc. Just because it’s small doesn’t mean you don’t get amenities. You can enjoy a heated steering wheel, QuietTuning vehicle insulation, dual-zone climate controls, and a built-in WiFi hotspot.
Since this is an SUV, even though the Encore is small, the cargo area is relatively tall, so you get more cargo space than with a small car. The standard turbo 1.4-liter engine delivers 148 lb.-ft. of torque and 138 horsepower, at least making this vehicle a little peppy and fun to drive daily, without racking up fuel expenses.
If you have the thirst for a larger luxury SUV, Buick offers to lease the Envision for $269 per month. For that price you’re not getting all the bells and whistles, like a hands-free power liftgate, panoramic sunroof, and 19-inch alloy wheels. You do get three rows of seating with a decent amount of space in the third row, plus an okay cargo area behind that. This is a stylish way to move a lot of people, without blowing the budget.
This SUV can be outfitted with all-wheel drive, unlike most minivans. The naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is decent but upgrading to the turbocharged 2.0-liter boosts performance to 252 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. It helps that this vehicle drives like something much smaller, so you don’t get the sensation of driving a small bus everywhere.
While the Buick Regal GS is a great car, the fact starting MSRP is $39,070 might push it past your budget. But, the Regal Sportback starts at $24,990, making it a solid deal. While you’re getting a luxury car, this Regal Sportback is first and foremost something fun to drive. It features the same turbo 2.0-liter engine as other Buicks on this list, plus you can get all-wheel drive. That combines with the 5-link rear suspension for good handling, but without punishing your passengers through a harsh ride quality.
Of course, you can get all kinds of advanced and luxurious features on this car, too. LED headlights have an auto-leveling tech, so your beams aren’t pointing into oncoming drivers’ faces, but instead illuminate the road ahead. A wireless charging compartment means you don’t need to plug your phone in. Of course, the rear liftback means you can load all kinds of large items into the car, so getting that SUV might not be necessary after all.
Audi A3 Sedan
At just $31,950, the starting MSRP for the Audi A3 Sedan might look like a solid deal, especially if you really want those four rings on your grille. If you want to spend more, you can get this car with the Audi virtual cockpit, which uses a 12.3-inch digital instrument screen that’s customizable. The infotainment screen pops out of the dash, something not everyone likes. At least the leather upholstery, 12-way power adjustable front seats, and other luxuries are really nice.
The standard turbo 2.0-liter engine produces a mighty 221 lb.-ft. of torque and 186 horsepower. If you add quattro all-wheel drive, performance boosts to 220 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque for a 5.8-second 0-60 time.
Lexus IS 300
Getting a Lexus isn’t usually a cheap endeavor, but if you choose the IS 300 with rear-wheel drive, you can lease it for $299 per month. That gives you a turbocharged inline-four with 2.0-liters of displacement and 241 horsepower. While you’re not going to smoke any Mustang GTs with that, the car’s still fun to drive in the city, especially on winding roads.
On the open road, you’ll find the IS 300 to be a comfortable cruiser. While many of the luxuries available in the IS lineup aren’t included, you can get a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated/ventilated front seats, and a power rear sunshade.
Lexus ES 350
If you want a bigger Lexus, the ES 350 starts at $38,950. It’s definitely more buttoned-down than the IS, with front-wheel drive, more conservative styling, and not quite such a raucous persona. But, this luxury midsize sedan does pack a 3.5-liter V-6 with 268 horsepower, so it’s no pushover.
You can also option yours up with some nice touches, like a panorama glass roof, power-adjustable steering wheel, a Mark Levinson surround sound system with 15 speakers, the digital navigation concierge service called Lexus Enform Destination Assist, and a driver’s-seat power cushion extender. Your passengers will also appreciate the loads of backseat legroom, making your car the one everyone will want to take for a fun night.
Lexus NX 300
Some people just want an SUV, and that’s fine. If you like Lexus, the NX 300 is a solid deal at a starting MSRP of $35,985. If you add all-wheel drive, that increases to $37,385. Under the hood, this vehicle packs the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which is tuned to 235 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque.
Buying a luxury vehicle means amenities, and the NX 300 delivers with standard and optional features like a 10.3-inch infotainment screen with 3D navigation, mobile WiFi, Siri Eyes Free, a fuel guide system, power-folding rear seats, heated steering wheel, and a hands-free power liftgate. If you want a small luxury SUV, this one is impressive.
You’ll need stellar credit and a good interest rate for the BMW i3 to slide in under the $300 a month mark, but the $44,450 starting MSRP might be reduced through the many promotions dealers and BMW keep running on this all-electric car. Thanks to the Tesla Model 3, Chevy Bolt, and Nissan Leaf, the i3 needs to fight for every last bit of market share, and that’s great for you.
Yes, the i3 looks weird, but if you can get past that or even like weird, it’s surprisingly a fun car to drive. Without the range extender, it can go about 114 miles on a charge, which is great for running around the city. The extender boosts that to 180 miles. If you care about the environment, it’s great to know the i3 is made in an emissions-free factory, with different portions of the interior made from sustainable eucalyptus.
Everyone tries to copy or beat the venerable 3 Series, and for good reason. The car is comfortable, yet you can have a genuinely good time when behind the wheel. It’s true the newer generations are heavier and larger, but it’s still a great car, if you’re so inclined. Starting MSRP for the 320i is $34,900. That outfits the sedan with the turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s pretty spunky, plus an 8-speed automatic transmission.
You also get the SensaTec upholstery, a 9-speaker sound system with HD radio, radar cruise control, automatic climate control, ambient lighting, and other goodies. Admittedly, it’s a stripped-down 3 Series, but the neighbors will surely be impressed.