Leasing makes sense if you catch a good sale/lease incentive, and you know you will drive about the allowed amount of miles. If you drive under, then you are ripping your self off, and if you drive way over, you get hosed by the leasing company. I am a big fan of my mom leasing as she hates maintaining and repairing cars. Her Prius has free maintenance for 2 years of her 3 year lease, and I know she in always in a really reliable, safe, and efficient car.
I also think down payments in leases are stupid, unless you are trading in some heap worth a few grand. Why give up a chunk of your savings to rent a car for a few years?
Last month I saw a deal for a new Maxima with nothing down for something like $279 a month. If I didn’t drive 20K a year, I’d be all over that.