Well, at my credit union (assuming the rates don't drastically change in the next 3 years) a "new car loan" is considered any loan on a vehicle less than 3 years old. The current rates are 1.79% all the way to 72 months. So if I would have financed up front, my payment would have been approximately $606.21 per month with zero down. This is with a negotiated sale price of $500 below invoice, plus incentives ($2000). And assuming roughly 10% for drive off (taxes, initial registration, etc.). MSRP $41,625. Negotiated sale of $39,194.
Total out of pocket payment for the car in that scenario is $606.21 x 72 = $43,647.12
With the route that I took, same negotiated sale price. Same MSRP. The interest on the lease was essentially 0% at a MF of 0.00002. The residual is 49%, so a little more than half of the sticker price will be paid for through the lease.
Negotiated sale price less incentives ($3500 for the lease), plus fees (first month, sales tax, doc fee, registration, etc.) comes out to an adjusted cap cost of $36,922.46 with zero out of pocket. Monthly payment is $460.21 plus tax of 8.225% in Fresno CA, so $498.06 total payment including tax. I will have to make 35 monthly payments because the first was taken care of with the rebates. 35 x 498.06 = $17,432.10
Residual is $20,396.25. Assuming the rates don't change, and the same 10% for taxes and fees on that loan with zero down, plus the $350 purchase option fee, the new 3 year loan in 2018 will be for $22,785.88. That's a monthly payment of $650.53. For a total cost of 650.53 x 36 = $23,419.08
$17,432.10 + $23,419.08 = $40,851.18 for the Lease for 3, finance for 3.
$43,647.12 - $40,851.18 = $2,795.94 better. So, unless there's something that I did WAYYYY wrong, I think this was the better move. Sorry for the long explanation but hopefully it helps others. And if I'm wrong about something, let me know so I can edit the numbers on here