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Sep 202012
 September 20, 2012  Posted by  Cars, Money
2012 Ford Focus. (06/08/2011)

It’s often less expensive to lease a car than to buy it outright.  As dealers clear the showroom floor of 2012 models to make way for the 2013 models, there are great leasing deals for less than $200 a month, thanks to interest rates that are near zero.

Here are four fuel-efficient small cars with monthly costs that won’t break your budget to lease or to fill up at the gas station.  The prices have been worked out by KBB, which is one of my go-to sources for automotive pricing.

Of course, prices vary by location, specific dealer and the amount of your down payment.  But these numbers will help you negotiate the best deal.

Ford Focus SE Sedan:MSRP of $18,295, 24-month lease at $159 a month.  As I wrote on ecoXplorer, the 2012 Ford Focus seats five, gets 40 mpg highway and 28 city, and has a fun, sporty driving feel thanks to a peppy 2.0 liter 160 horsepower engine.  Equally important, it has a top safety rating both in North America and in Europe, where it is one of the best selling models and a star in the Ford garage.

Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sedan: MSRP of $18,245, a 42-month lease at $169.  This is a great family-size sedan, with smooth, sporty handling thanks to a 2.0 liter 170 horsepower engine.  The EPA rates the 2012 Subaru Impreza as 25 mpg city and 34 highway. Plus the legendary Subaru four-wheel drive system is built in, making this an all-season, all-weather winner.

Hyundai Elantra GLS Sedan: MSRP of $18,370, 46-month lease at $179 a month.  The 2012 Hyundai Elantra is a stand-out for head-turning looks similar to its big sister Sonata, with roominess, and a 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine that’s larger and more powerful than most vehicles in this size and price range.

Nissan Versa S Hatchback: MSRP of $15,450 and 39-month lease at $189 a month.  While the Versa sedan is the least expensive car in North America, my choice would be the larger, more versatile 2012 Nissan Versa Hatchback, with a 1.8 litter, 122 horsepower engine, and fuel economy up to 34 mpg combined city and highway, depending on whether you choose manual or automatic transmission.

You also are likely to find $200 a month or less lease deals on these other family-friendly 2012 models priced under $20,000 I wrote about recently in the Money section of Living on the Cheap.

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Evelyn Kanter

Evelyn Kanter is an award-winning journalist who has been reporting on good deals and warning about bad ones, for longer than she cares to admit publicly. A native and lifelong New Yorker, she was the first consumer reporter for CBS News and for WABC TV “Eyewitness News” and helped launch the “Sales and Bargains” column in New York Magazine. Evelyn is the author or editor of more than a dozen travel guidebooks and apps, including Peaceful Places New York City, and owns and operates NYC On The Cheap and EcoXplorer. A long-time tree-hugger, Evelyn also writes about green travel, green cars and saving the green in your wallet for national and regional publications, including a column syndicated by Motor Matters and for, AAA magazines and airline inflights.

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