5 Cost-Effective Cars Worth Leasing Now

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PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Owning a new car is one option, but with car leases returning to pre-recession levels, not paying that new-car price certainly has its advantages.

Leases are a less costly way of getting behind the wheel of a new car, but those short-term deals disappeared during the economic downturn. Tightened credit took car buyers out of the lease market while automaker bankruptcies ended lease offers altogether for a time.

Leases are making a comeback, but rising used car values, shrinking used car supply and a changing credit landscape are making them much different than the boom-era leases buyers may remember. Three years and 36,000 miles with a zero-dollar down payment shrank to two years and 20,000 with a down payment similar to the price of a used car during the recovery. Only now are we starting to see 36-month leases and sub-$2,000 down payments again.

The folks at auto lease comparison site Wantalease.com say there are still deals to be had in the newly stabilized auto lease market. The following deals offer buyers some options while providing an alternative to costly financing plans or upfront payments: