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Auto leasing hits all-time high as buyers seek low payments

Leasing a car, which has long been popular in select markets, has now become the primary choice for millions of Americans who want to drive a new vehicle.

New data from Experian Automotive shows the percentage of new vehicles sold through lease programs hit an all-time high in the second quarter.


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During the period, 25.6 percent of all new vehicles sold were financed through leases, according to Experian, which tracks millions of auto loans written every quarter.

Read MoreSubprime trouble? Car buyers struggle with loans

The average monthly payment for those vehicles leased between April and June was $407, with more than 70 percent of those leases stretching out two to three years.

By comparison, the monthly payment for those buying vehicles in the second quarter was $467.

Read MoreAuto buyers set new record, load up longer loans

Who is driving the surge in leasing?

Increasingly, those leasing cars and SUVs for two to four years are those with higher credit scores. In fact, Experian said 43 percent of those who took out a lease in the second quarter in the U.S. had super-prime credit ratings. Super-prime credit scores are those above 740, according to Experian.

Read MoreSome fear auto industry is returning to bad habits

—By CNBC's Phil Lebeau

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com.

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