Every loan vs lease option needs to be analyzed on it's own costs. I've bought and leased cars based on expected cost of ownership.
Agree 100%. Below is how it works out too.
Was quite shocked at MKC quality, looks, and esp as a racer the way it drove thru the twisties on par with my X5's ! Was ready to buy a 2017 Reserve ~47000 (my deal would have been ~42000) when I saw a loaded 2015 MKC (identical car) on lot with 17500 on odometer. Why pay $42000 when I can walk out door for $29200+ tax ( btw much less due to trade in associated with the deal-> forgot to throw that into my pricing so take another grand off your deal) with a 3 yr note at 2.34% =$496.30/month. So except for the Ecoboost badge on mine v a 2017, 99.99% of the public thinks your car and mine are identical yet even with your numbers, I'm at or ahead of you, can do what I want to vehicle and as a bonus, will have an asset at trade in time which if I keep it for 5-7yrs may be only $5000, but if I drive it for 3yrs and put 50K on it, will be far closer to 10K in my pocket. while you are at ZERO.
I think your overall point stands but then you bought a 2yr old vehicle with 17k on the clock vs a new car with zero on the clock. Yes, buy vs lease, buying used and keeping forever is always better than buying new. However, one of the big advantages of leasing is driving the most current vehicles during the best years/miles of it's life. aka no sloppy seconds.
As a side note, you can do whatever you want to the the car you own but you're not really that limited on a lease either so long as you restore the vehicle to the original turn-in condition and don't do anything to permanently void the warranty that remains. Not sure what you were looking to do the car but just clarifying that leasing doesn't preclude you for modifying the vehicle.
Otherwise you lease it if you can't afford the extra upfront costs to achieve ownership that first time, which, in turn, allows you to climb the ladder with vehicles by always having a trade in to use as your downpayment.
There's far more to why one would lease vs buy than up-front costs. Even there, upfront costs and day-forward costs associated with a lease are often LESS than on buys. Clearly on your deal you put money down in the form of trade equity. On a lease, that's a bad financial move as the idea of leasing it to keep your equity/cash in YOUR Pocket not in the vehicle or in the accounts of the financing company.
In your case at $29,200 for 36 months at 2.34% the rate was fine. However with Zero down the payment would have been around $840mo (I didn't include tax on your sale either) but don't need to in order to show the point. Now to get down to $496mo you obviously used trade equity and/or cash to get the payment down do that amount. Simple math shows it was about $12,000. Not sure if you wanted to do that but for me, I would much rather have that $12k in MY Back Account or investment making me money vs in my car which is simply a depreciating asset. My point is if you can't afford the $840mo payment without the money down then you're buying too expensive of vehicle. Not direct at you mind you, just a point that I'm making.
Even if you finance 50K everytime you get a new vehicle, every time you have a 10-20K trade in, you can buy that much more vehicle and have no negative effects on your ownership costs, or if you have reached that self-determined pinnacle, your ownership costs go down by 10-20K each vehicle.
Putting equity down to reduce a payment, especially in today's economy, isn't a good move. You can do far better financially taking $10-20k in equity and investing it. You'll far out-earn the cost of interest on the car loan.
We can continue the discussion using our $49k NEW 2018 lease vs your buy since we already know those numbers. You bought used, put a lot of money down and even if you pay the vehicle off after 3 yrs and own it, you can still calculate a monthly cost of ownership. Let's see what that looks like by ffwd to the end of my lease and the month you make your last payment and now OWN it.
I just spend 36 months in a $49k vehicle paying more or less $500mo with ZERO down and am now moving out into a new Lincoln. In fairness I can actually do that in 33 months as the terms of our Lease allow me to move out 3 months early with ZERO payments remaining if I lease another Lincoln. Really makes no difference as my cost-to-drive is still only $500 mo.
Your cost to drive per month however is far more as you have to factor in the $12k you put down. Doing that your cost to drive for 36 months is still that $830mo. That's 36 x your $496mo payment plus the $12k down divided out over 36 months. Now you do have the advantage of having "equity" in the vehicle you now own. Congrats in a sense but condolences in another. I'll let you plug in a number of what a now 5yr old MKC is worth but my guess is it's somewhere in the $10-12k range. Sounds good as you have hopefully recouped your down payment equity but it's sitting in a vehicle that you can only access when you sell or trade it and hasn't earned anything for you since you used it day-one.
Now look at what I have been doing....I'm paying the same $500mo but saving the $330mo difference. I won't even factor in the earnings of that money, thus after 36 months of saving I too have "equity" in the amount of $330x36= $11,800 only in my case it's not tied up in a depreciating asset exposed to damage and harm and is not a variable amount at the mercy of what a dealer will give me for it or what it might sell for. I've also been earning that money since month one.
I trust the above is easy enough to follow.
The big difference however is that I drove a NEW car with 6 miles on it and our car stickered for $49k and was only missing the THX System whereas yours wasn't likely nearly as feature rich and was used with 17k on the ODO. In order for you to really realize a bigger benefit you'll have to stay in your now 5yr old likely 60k miles SUV for several more years. Nothing wrong with that mind you but the cost delta in terms of savings isn't worth it to me or my wife.
Financing yeilds higher payments up-front for the sake of acruing equity in the vehicle whereas leasing costs less up-front allowing the driver to save the difference in buy vs lease payments in their own bank account or investment. Leasing allows that accrual of said equity from day one too vs on a buy many people are upside down on a car until about 42 months into a 60 month financing plan. Sure that can be mitigated with money down at the point of sale, but I've already proven that doing so isn't the best move.
Leasing a fully loaded NEW $49k MK-C with ZERO Down is still more cost effective than buying a 2yr old one with less features for $29k even if you put $12k down.