Pre-pandemic my strategy was -
Try to lease hack (ended up with 2 BMW 328XIs about 300 a month, 0 down)
If leasing doesn't work for either shit deals (pandemic) or you can't drive less than 15k a year, then look for used at a similar monthly payment to what you otherwise would have leased, but I often stretch the payment because leasing is much cheaper usually.
Buying out a lease is typically bad because they overcharge you compared to what it will end up on their lot as, but right now the world is on fire and buying it out is often super cheap compared to lot rates.
Putting money down on a lease is a scam, doesn't add any value, Putting down on a finance is bueno due to reducing interest on the principal but isn't really super important unless you have a trade in or something.
Yeah yearly income is a decent tool, but like the finance on a 35k car is gonna be like 650-700 a month with 0% interest which would be super hard if you only made 35k a year. So I'd still go for a cheaper car. Most people here financing a 40k car probably make at least doubt that to feel comfortable IMO.