Do Most Americans Lease Their Cars?

Last updated: April 29, 2024

With the rise of car leasing in recent years, many wonder if it has become the preferred way for Americans to acquire vehicles. This guide will explore the current trends and statistics surrounding car leasing in the US, helping you understand its prevalence and popularity.

The Reality

While car leasing has become increasingly popular, it is not the dominant way Americans acquire vehicles. In fact, the majority of Americans still purchase cars outright. Statistics reveal:

  • 2022: Approximately 20% - 21% of new cars in the US were leased.
  • 2017: This number was significantly higher at 34%.
  • 2023 (projected): The leasing rate is expected to remain stable at around 20%.

This data indicates that despite its growth, car leasing remains a minority choice compared to traditional car ownership.

Reasons for Leasing Popularity

Several factors contribute to the rising popularity of leasing:

  • Lower upfront costs: Compared to buying a car, leasing requires less money upfront, attracting those seeking to avoid large down payments.
  • Predictable monthly payments: Leasing offers consistent monthly payments, making budgeting easier.
  • Access to new cars: Leasers can drive the latest models every few years, enjoying new technology and features.
  • Flexibility: Shorter lease terms offer greater flexibility compared to long-term car loans, adapting to changing needs.

Reasons for Continued Ownership Preference

Despite the benefits of leasing, many Americans still prefer to own their cars for various reasons:

  • Long-term cost-effectiveness: While monthly payments are lower, leasing can be more expensive in the long run as you don't build equity in the vehicle.
  • Unlimited mileage: Owning a car allows for unlimited driving without exceeding mileage limits and incurring additional fees.
  • Customization: Owners have more freedom to customize their cars without restrictions from leasing companies.
  • Building equity: Owning a car allows you to build equity over time, increasing its value and offering a potential financial asset.

The Takeaway

While leasing has gained significant traction in recent years, it remains the choice of a minority in the US. Whether you choose to lease or purchase a car depends on your individual needs, financial situation, and driving habits. Carefully consider the benefits and drawbacks of each option before making a decision.