A $200/month new-car payment is an exciting number. Regrettably, to get it, even on a $20,000 car, would typically require 72 payments (according to Autoblog's payment calculator), even with a down payment of $7,000. Plus there's tax, title and license fees. With six years of payments on one side of the argument, and three-year lease under $200/month on the other, what would you do?

We'd look at the 2017 Honda Accord LX, offered — at least in some regions — at $189/month. That requires $1,995 out of pocket plus, of course, those taxes, titles and fees, along with a very good credit score. State sales tax is typically around 6 percent (think $1,300 on the LX), while fees would be a few hundred more. Figure paying about $3,500 total out of pocket. You'll have the option of buying the Accord — what is now your Accord — for $13,000 at the end of the 36-month lease.

The lease allows just 12,000 miles per year. But if you keep the car at the end of the 36 months, you won't have to worry about a mileage penalty.

Conversely, if electing to purchase, assume you can buy that $24,000 LX for $21,500. That gives you an on-the-road price of around $23,000. To get to our $200/month target, you'd need $10,000 up front, while committing to 72 monthly payments.

The best thing about the $189 lease on a Honda Accord is, of course, the Honda Accord. Its quality design, precision build and established reliability will give you many years of service, long after the lease ends.

The lease details:

Closed end lease for 2017 Accord Sedan CVT LX (CR2F3HEW) available from July 6, 2017 through September 5, 2017, to well-qualified lessees approved by Honda Financial Services. Not all lessees will qualify. Higher lease rates apply for lessees with lower credit ratings. MSRP $24,130.00 (includes destination, excludes tax, license, title, registration, documentation fees, options, insurance and the like). Actual net capitalized cost $19,150.55. Net capitalized cost includes $595 acquisition fee. Dealer contribution may vary and could affect actual lease payment.

Total monthly payments $6,804.00. Option to purchase at lease end $13,030.20. Must take new retail delivery on vehicle from dealer stock by September 5, 2017. Lessee responsible for maintenance, excessive wear/tear and 15¢/mile over 12,000 miles/year for vehicles with MSRP less than $30,000, and 20¢/mile over 12,000 miles/year for vehicles with MSRP of $30,000 or more. See your Honda dealer for complete details.

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