Thanks for all the info! I've leased a handful of times but it's always been with the manufacturer's leasing subsidiary and there never was (or I never found a way) to negotiate with them. Very sterile relationship. There never seemed to be a person or even an office to talk to except an operator in a call center who at best could read payoff information from their "screen." You know what I mean.You're correct in how the payments are calculated. There's some benefit to dealers/banks in early termination when the cars depreciation is less than predicted. They also get to move a new vehicle in the process.
You can negotiate the buyout. Anything is negotiable. However the bank can obviously stick to the terms originally in place. I bought out a couple of leases. Mostly because I couldn't dedicate the time to hunt for a replacement, but in some instances I just didn't see anything I wanted to replace the current vehicle with. I still own one - the 350Z in my garage. If memory serves me, the buyout was north of 22k. I waited until two months before termination and offered them 19. They balked. As time approached, they got back to me with a counter. I stuck to my offer and they eventually accepted. Did the same with an F-150 I had leased as a work vehicle. As the term neared completion, I got a call from the leasing agent to see what my plans were. We reached a mutually agreed upon price. I was happy because I didn't have to take time away from work to look for a replacement. Had a Tahoe I loved - the Tony Soprano version ;P and didn't want to part with it just yet so I purchased it at lease end for the stated terms. I eventually stopped leasing because I realized I like to keep my vehicles beyond what would make sense as a lease in terms of interest payments. Now I just pay cash so there's no interest payment at all.