It’s a truism in the auto industry that there’s always a deal to be had, certainly for customers with good credit – even in a popular segment like pickup trucks, and even in today’s environment of a computer-chip shortage and a shortage of new trucks.
Case in point, one of this month’s Best Lease Deals for Pickup Trucks is a lease offer on the 2021 Ford Ranger, for an all-in price of $367 per month, from a non-captive finance company. That’s not bad, for a midsize truck with an average suggested retail price of $33,063, according to Market Scan.
Notice, just about all of this month’s Best Lease Deals for Pickup Trucks identified by Market Scan are from non-captive finance companies, or companies not owned or controlled by automakers. That’s because automakers have cut back on their usual incentives for lease deals via their captive finance companies, due to the ongoing shortage of new trucks.
Absent big factory incentives, that makes non-captive lenders like Ally Financial more competitive. “The most aggressive offers I’ve got are from Ally Bank,” said Ford dealer Rick Ricart, president of Ricart Automotive Group, Groveport, Ohio, outside Columbus.
Market Scan doesn’t name the lenders in its list of Best Lease Deals, but it does say if they’re captive or non-captive. Ally Bank is one of a limited number of non-captives that offer leasing.
Ally confirmed separately to Forbes Wheels that it has several lease offers presently on the market, including offers on the Ford Ranger, the Chevy Silverado, the Chevy Colorado, the Toyota Tacoma, the Toyota Tundra, and the Jeep Gladiator. “As an independent auto finance provider, Ally works with dealers from all brands,” said Erin Klepaski, senior vice president of Auto Finance, Ally.
It’s not surprising the factories have cut lease incentives, since new-vehicle inventory is “thin, to extremely thin,” Ricart said.
The dealership group has just a 19-day supply of new Fords, and only an 11-day supply of new Hyundais, he said in a recent phone interview. Besides Ford and Hyundai, the group has new-car franchises for Genesis, Kia, Mitsubishi, and Nissan.
Just like it sounds, days-supply is an estimate of how long unsold inventory will last, at the present sales rate. A 60-day supply is a traditional benchmark, but dealerships have been getting by on much lower inventories ever since the COVID-19 pandemic landed last year. Nevertheless, even with low inventories, it’s still a competitive market.
Best Lease Deals, for Pickups
1. 2021 Toyota Tacoma
- $35,835.61 average suggested retail
- $315.49 average best monthly lease payment (non-captive)
Why We Picked It:
The Toyota Tacoma outsells its nearest competitor, the Ford Ranger, by more than 2-to-1, according to Motor Intelligence. Separately, Market Scan rated the Best Lease Deal for Pickups on the 2020 Toyota Tacoma lower than the 2021 model, but still in the Top 10: average suggested retail, $35,365; best average monthly lease payment, $381.40. That’s a higher payment than the 2021, for a truck with a slightly lower sticker price. Click here to read our overview of the Toyota Tacoma.
- A best-seller. U.S. sales for the Toyota Tacoma were 104,699 in the first half of 2021, up 33% vs. a year ago.
- New special editions: the blacked-out 2021 Toyota Tacoma Nightshade, and the 2021 Toyota Tacoma Trail special edition.
- Maintenance. No extra charge for ToyotaCare scheduled maintenance, 2 years/25,000 miles.
- Rear seats are cramped.
- Base engine, a 3.0-liter, four-cylinder, isn’t especially powerful, at 159 hp and 180 ft-lbs. of torque, and it’s scarcely more fuel-efficient than the optional V-6.
2. 2021 Toyota Tundra 4WD
- $46,178.64 average suggested retail
- $467.11 average best monthly lease payment (non-captive)
Why We Picked It:
Even though the 4WD version of the 2021 Toyota Tundra has more utility and a substantially higher sticker price than the 2WD version, the monthly payment for the 4WD is not much higher than the 2WD. Market Scan rated the Best Lease Deal on the 2021 Toyota Tundra 2WD lower than the 4WD, but still in the Top 10: average suggested retail, $41,722.22; best average monthly lease payment, $454.10. Click here to read our review of the Toyota Tundra.
- Optional trim and equipment packages, Nightshade or Trail, can customize your Toyota Tundra depending on how you plan to use it.
- Analysts expect a redesigned Toyota Tundra later this year for the 2022 model year, so now could be a good time to get a better deal on the old model.
- No extra charge for ToyotaCare scheduled maintenance, 2 years/25,000 miles.
- The exterior styling and the interior features will look a little dated when the redesigned model comes out.
- It might be challenging to find the Toyota Tundra you want. According to press reports, the Toyota Tundra is in short supply due to the computer-chip shortage. U.S. sales were 7,152 in June, down 18.4% vs. a year ago, Motor Intelligence said.
3. 2020 & 2021 Chevrolet Colorado
Average Price (2020 model):
- $33,405.53 average suggested retail
- $348.15 average best monthly lease payment (non-captive)
Why We Picked It:
The Chevy Colorado and the GMC Canyon are both mid-size pickups from GM. Market Scan also rated the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado separately among its Top 10 Best Lease Deals for Pickups, only a couple of slots behind the 2020 model. The 2021 is $34,206.11 average suggested retail; best average monthly lease payment at $360.73 (captive). That’s logical, since it’s a slightly higher monthly payment for a slightly higher sticker price. Considering the 2021 Chevy Colorado got a facelift and updated features the 2020 lacks it’s probably worth spending a little more to get the 2021. Click here to read our review of the Chevrolet Colorado.
- The 2021 facelift includes a new grille and front-end exterior styling.
- Can trailer up to 7,700 lbs., which is a lot for a mid-size truck.
- Top-of-the-line ZR2 models share some styling and equipment with the Chevy Colorado ZR2 off-highway racing program, like a lifted body, special shock absorbers and skid plates.
- The 7,700-lb. maximum trailering is only with the optional 2.8-liter turbodiesel engine. That’s twice as much torque as the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder.
- All versions get a rear vision camera, but upgraded high-definition view is optional on the less-expensive versions. Ditto for certain driver-assistance features.
4. 2021 GMC Sierra 3500 HD
- $50,520 average suggested retail
- $537.64 average best monthly lease payment (non-captive)
Why We Picked It
The GMC Sierra 3500 HD, for Heavy Duty, is the big brother of the GMC Sierra 1500. Market Scan rated several versions of the GMC Sierra among its Top 25 Best Lease Deals for Pickups, but not among the Top 10. Those include the (relatively) light-duty 2021 GMC Sierra 1500: $46,832.04 average suggested retail; best average monthly lease payment, $518.45 (non-captive). Click here to read our review of the GMC Sierra.
- It’s a hot seller. According to Motor Intelligence, including all variants, GMC Sierra sales were 106,833 in the first half of 2021, up 29.6% vs. a year ago.
- More than half of GMC Sierra HD buyers choose the top-of-the line Denali version, according to GMC, which considers Denali to be a premium brand.
- The most over-the-top version, with double rear wheels and a special hitch mounted over the rear axle, can tow up to 36,000 lbs.
- Pricey, with options. Starting price for the Denali version is $65,500, not counting destination charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and any additional optional equipment.
- Nevertheless, some driver-assistance features aren’t standard on less-expensive versions.
5. 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
- $44,711.67 average suggested retail
- $477.23 average best monthly lease payment (non-captive)
Why We Picked It:
The 2021 Chevy Silverado is in a race this year with the Ram Pickup to see whether either one can hope to catch up with the perennial No. 1-seller in the U.S. market, the Ford F-Series pickup. Thanks to the computer chip shortage, it’s no longer a given that Ford owns the No. 1 spot. In the first half, the Ram Pickup overtook the Chevy Silverado as No. 2. In addition to the 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500 listed here, Market Scan also listed other variants among its Top 25. Click here to read our review of the Chevrolet Silverado.
- To protect its market share and bragging rights, it’s not unlikely Chevrolet might offer additional lease deals on the Chevy Silverado. Market Scan lists a factory-sponsored lease deal on the 2022 Chevy Silverado 3500 HD among its Top 25 Best Lease Deals on pickups: average suggested retail $60,945; best avg monthly lease payment, $748.91.
- New options include features designed to facilitate towing, like improved rear-facing camera views and a warning if a “jackknife” situation is imminent while backing.
- For 2021, some convenience and safety features, which were optional or unavailable on less-expensive models, are made standard.
- The Multi-Flex tailgate is optional, at $595 by itself or it can be ordered as part of a package of options, according to chevy.com.
- It’s pricey at almost $45,000 average suggested retail, but that’s how people order them.
6. 2021 GMC Canyon
- $37,666.43 average suggested retail
- $407.17 average best monthly lease payment (captive)
Why We Picked It:
This offer from captive finance company GM Financial appears to be another exception that proves the rule about this month’s Best Lease Deals coming mostly from non-captives. Like its sibling, the Chevy Colorado, the 2021 GMC Canyon got a facelift, with new front-end styling, plus upgrades in keeping with GMC’s more upscale brand image vis-à-vis Chevrolet, including extra chrome in the exterior design. Click here to read our review of the GMC Canyon.
- Updated exterior styling and interior features
- New-for-2021 AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition, adds front and mid skid plates and deletes the front air dam, which produces higher and safer ground clearance entering and leaving steeply angled slopes.
- Optional, top-of-the-line, luxurious Denali trim level.
- Pricier than the Chevy Colorado; average suggested retail higher by $3,460, or about $1,380 in total monthly payments over 36 months, according to Market Scan.
- Despite the higher price, some convenience and driver-assist features are unavailable or optional on cheaper versions.
7. 2021 Ford Ranger
- $33,062.50 average suggested retail;
- $367.05 average best monthly lease payment (non-captive)
Why We Picked It:
Ford dropped the Ranger in 2011, and reintroduced it in 2019. “We’re real pleased Ford re-entered that space. When the Ranger was discontinued, there were a lot of angry customers. We sold a lot of used ones for the first couple of years,” said Ford dealer Rick Ricart, president of Ricart Automotive Group, Groveport, Ohio, outside Columbus. Click here to read our review of the Ford Ranger.
- New(ish) styling, latest redesign was for 2019.
- Off-road options. The optional Tremor off-road package for 2021 includes bigger wheels and all-terrain tires, underbody skid plates, and a modified, heavy-duty off-road suspension.
- Driver-assist technologies, like Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert and Trailer Coverage, Automatic Emergency Braking
- Off-highway cred is lacking, where the Toyota Tacoma excels, according to some reviewers. Ford addresses this with the optional Tremor package for 2021.
- “Cheap plastic” comes up in reviews of the interior, although some reviewers also give the interior good marks for comfort.
8. 2021 Jeep Gladiator
- $43,883.81 average suggested retail
- $491.76 average best monthly lease payment (non-captive)
Why We Picked It:
Until the Gladiator debuted for the 2020 model year, the Jeep brand hadn’t offered a pickup since 1993. Features like removable doors and a windshield that folds flat are aimed mostly at low-speed, off-highway driving. For 2021, Jeep added a diesel engine option, something that’s good for low-speed rock-climbing, because diesel engines have more torque than similar-size gasoline engines. Click here to read our review of the Jeep Gladiator.
- Curb appeal. The Jeep Gladiator is distinctive, and somehow appears bigger than it actually is. U.S. sales were up 40.1% in the first half of 2021, to 48,784, Motor Intelligence said.
- Jeep offers a variety of special editions, like the Gladiator 80th Anniversary Edition and the Gladiator Willys.
- For 2021, full-time four-wheel drive is available (but not standard) on all models.
- While it’s unmistakable for anything but a Jeep, from the front it sure looks like another Jeep, the four-door Jeep Wrangler.
- It’s pricey considering it really isn’t as big as some full-size pickup competitors. Even with a Best Lease Deal, the best average monthly payment is higher than some competitors with similar price tags.
9. 2021 Honda Ridgeline
- $41,750 average suggested retail
- $494.48 average best monthly lease payment (non-captive)
Why We Picked It:
The 2021 Honda Ridgeline gets a facelift, with squarer, truck-ier exterior styling, giving it a more imposing appearance. The previous Honda Ridgeline came across like a raised, extra-large car or SUV, and not so much like a pickup truck. U.S. sales in the first half were up 68%, to 24,370, according to Motor Intelligence. Click here to see our review of the Honda Ridgeline.
- Interior space. Reviewers give the 2021 Honda Ridgeline high marks for interior room and practical stowage space.
- Exterior space. There’s a lockable “in-bed trunk” in the pickup bed.
- There’s only one engine option but it’s a good one, a 3.5-liter V-6, with a nine-speed automatic transmission.
- Maximum towing capacity is 5,000 lbs., lower than some competitors.
- No diesel or other engine upgrade available.
10. 2021 Nissan Frontier
- $32,094.55 average suggested retail
- $378.10 (non-captive)
Why We Picked It:
Sales of the Nissan Frontier more than doubled in June, to 4,931, and were up 38.4% to 26,392 in the first half, vs. the respective periods a year ago, the company said. At least some of that gain could be because inventory is in short supply for domestic rivals like the Ford Ranger and the Chevrolet Colorado.
Nissan Frontier is unchanged from the 2020 model, which got an all-new, 310-hp V-6 engine and nine-speed automatic transmission. The current Nissan Frontier is about to be phased out, so it’s a good time to get a good deal on the old model. A redesigned Nissan Frontier for the 2022 model year is expected to go on sale this summer. The redesigned model gets the same V-6 engine, so the 2021 model on sale now already gets one of the key features of the new version. Click here to read our overview of the Nissan Frontier.
- Engine and transmission. As noted, the 2021 model already has the most important powertrain components from the new model coming this summer.
- Reliability. The existing Nissan Frontier was the top-rated midsize pickup in the 2021 J,D, Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability study, based on results for 3-year-old models from 2018. The 3-year time frame reflects the length of the average lease.
- Ruggedness. The Nissan Frontier sits on a ladder-like steel frame, and has maximum towing capacity of 6,720 lbs.
- Based on photos from Nissan, the redesigned 2022 Nissan Frontier gets much more imposing, squared-off exterior styling. The 2021 model looks curvy and SUV-like in comparison.
- On the inside, the 2022 model gets a much bigger (optional) touchscreen, with features like Apply CarPlay and Android auto, so if that’s a priority it might be worth it to wait.
Methodology: Pickup Truck Lease Deals
Market Scan Information Systems Inc., Camarillo, Calif., identifies Best Lease Deals based on constantly scanning actual offers in the market, and comparing the best average monthly lease payment it can find, vs. an average suggested retail price for that model. Market Scan’s monthly payment is all-inclusive, including options, taxes and dealer fees. Therefore, it may not be as low as special lease deals advertised on dealer and manufacturer web sites, which typically don’t include taxes or fees, and may be for a stripped-down model that lacks popular options. All of those factors would serve to raise the real-world monthly payment. Market Scan also assumes: a 36-month lease term; a customer cash contribution of 5% of suggested retail; and a prime-rated credit score of 720 (10 points higher than average). Deals may vary by region, and are subject to change without notice.
FAQs: Pickup Truck Leasing
Who the heck would lease a pickup truck?
Pickup truck buyers have a reputation for preferring to own their trucks, rather than lease them. That’s partly personal preference. Many truck owners want to keep their truck as long as possible after it’s paid off, and extract the most use out of it. It’s also practical. Customers who drive a lot of miles every year, or who use their trucks on the job and suffer a lot of dings and dents, can rack up big end-of-lease fees for extra miles and “excess” wear and tear. But there are plenty of suburban truck owners, who don’t put on a lot of miles, and who don’t beat up their trucks, who are perfectly suited for leases, says Ford dealer Rick Ricart, president of Ricart Automotive Group, Groveport, Ohio, outside Columbus. He estimates about 30% of his Ford F-150 customers lease their trucks.
What’s a “low-mileage” lease?
One way to lower the monthly payment is to lower the number of miles allowed in the contract. Lower mileage at lease-end makes the vehicle more attractive to the next owner or lessee. And in leasing, the customer only has to finance the difference between the up-front cost and the residual value, the estimated value of the vehicle at lease end. A higher residual value means the customer has to borrow less.
How low is “low?”
Mileage allowances on a lease usually average at least 10,000 miles annually, or often, a more realistic 12,000 miles per year. Some low-mileage leases are as low as 8,000 miles a year.
The Department of Transportation says the average American drives 13,500 miles per year. Men drive more than women. The gender gap widens as drivers age; women over 65 drive less than 5,000 miles a year, half what men over 65 drive. Drivers in more rural states, led by Wyoming, Georgia, Oklahoma and New Mexico drive the most, 18,000-21,000 miles a year. Generally, drivers in high-population density states drive comparatively fewer miles.
What’s the down side of a low-mileage pickup lease?
A low-mileage lease would be highly unusual for a pickup. But it’s worth checking whether your mileage allowance is adequate, say, at 10,000 miles per year. Excess-mileage fees can really pile up. Fees can be as high as 25 cents per mile. At 60 mph, one mile per minute, imagine how fast the fees would accumulate. If you know from experience you drive fewer than 10,000 miles a year, and the allowance is 10,000 miles a year, that’s a check mark in favor of leasing. Here’s another way to put it: super-high-end luxury cars are commonly leased on low-mileage leases, but that makes sense, since they’re commonly driven only on the weekends or special occasions.
How can I protect myself if I lease?
In case it needs to be said: Read your lease contract before signing. Lease contracts specify how many miles a customer can put on a vehicle during the term of the lease, usually 36 months. In addition, many states require lease advertising to include a mileage disclosure. Disclosures are supposed to be legible and “prominent.” But the disclosures can’t help you if you don’t read them and don’t pay attention.