More great lease deals as model year ends

2012 Ford Focus Ford Motor Co.

(MoneyWatch) For car shoppers looking for low monthly payments, promotional lease deals are unusually affordable as the 2012 model year ends.

With dealers already selling many 2013 models, manufacturers are focusing their efforts to clear out remaining 2012s on such lease deals. That results from unusual economic conditions, say analysts at Kelley Blue Book. Interest rates remain historically low and used-car values are especially high. That means that the manufacturers can combine the low rates with high residual values -- what they expect to get in reselling the cars after leases end -- in order to offer low payments.

Leasing is not for everyone. And, to be sure, year-end promotions mean some good deals for buyers as well. But, says Kelley analyst Alec Gutierrez, "New car shoppers more interested in low monthly payments in the short term rather than long-term vehicle ownership will find some great lease deals."

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Gutierrez notes that for buyers interested in high-MPG compacts and subcompacts, leases often sport payments of under $200 a month. Here is a rundown of some of his top deals on 2012 models.

  • Ford Focus SE sedan, redesigned for 2012 and rated at 26 MPG in city driving and 36 on the highway, is leasing for $159 a month for two years with $2,378 due at signing.
  • Hyundai Accent, with a 2012 redesign in the swooping Hyundai style, is rated at 30 MPG city, 40 highway. The lease is $169 a month for three years with a $1,699 down payment.
  • Subaru Impreza has a somewhat lower rating of 26 MPG city, 34 highway because it has standard all-wheel drive like all Subarus. But if you live in a climate where you need winter traction, the lease is $169 a month for 42 months with $1,969 down.
  • Hyundai Elantra, Hyundai's compact model, shares the signature Hyundai style and is rated at 29 MPG city, 40 highway. The lease is for $179 a month for three years with $1,999 down at signing.

If you are considering one of these leases, remember the quoted payments do not include sales tax and some other fees. But even with those added in, the payments will still be the lowest available in several years.

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    Jerry Edgerton, author of Car Shopping Made Easy, has been covering the car beat since Detroit companies dominated the U.S. market. The former car columnist for Money magazine and Washington correspondent for Business Week, Edgerton specializes in finding the best deals on wheels and offering advice on making your car last.

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