My philosophy USED to be finance a car with conventional financing, at the end of the loan, at least you have something to show for it other than a smaller bank account, I’ve never seen the point to leasing for a consumer, you’re basically doing a long term rental.
bear in mind, i was financing cars in the late '80s and through the '90s, and the inexpensive cars i could afford were, well, basically crap, poor quality, poorly made, clearly loss leaders built to hit a budget and nothing more, overall American car QC back then was crap.
the biggest change to my philosophy came in '07 when i financed a used VW Mk5 Rabbit 2 door 5MT, used, but in great shape, i got 140K of reliable service out of that car, and it was fun, i could understand why people would pay more for a better car.
then another shift in philosophy, i was able to purchase a '11 Honda Element for $11K cash sale, and the floodgates opened!, cash sale for a reliable car was the way to go, cars nowadays are good quality, so you can get a decent vehicle if you’re willing to buy a little older vehicle with life left in it, unfortunately, the Element gave it’s life protecting me from a car crash and was totaled out
so, i needed another replacement vehicle, and i WASN’T going to get back under car payments ever again, the Rabbit was the end of an era, the end of me financing a depreciating asset.
with some strategic shopping, i was able to find a certified preowned vehicle that gets 36-46 MPG, has a 2 year unlimited and 4/120 powertrain/emissions warranty, has 140HP/236 Ft-LB of torque, and is FUN to drive, and has the potential to last for 400,000+ miles, as long as New England road salt doesn’t eat away at the chassis, and all for a miserly $9,000, under my price cap of $11k
a 2012 VW Golf TDI, yes it’s an 8 year old car, but it still feels as solid as the day it rolled off the assembly line, and the TDIs have a well deserved reputation for reliability, for that price, i can deal with it not being brand new, as it still drives like new, and i don’t have any bloody car payments hanging over my head.
even if i had $30K to spend on a car, i’d have bought this car, and invested the rest in something that gains monetary value.
for my purposes, cars now are so good, there’s really no reliability advantage in new cars, plus, i hate all the stupid nannyware the US government is mandating on new cars, an older, simpler car is more appealing to me.