Frugal Shopper: The Ten Most Discounted Hybrid Models

March 12, 2010
2010 mercedes benz ml450 hybrid 012

2010 mercedes benz ml450 hybrid 012

If you're considering one of many hybrid models but think that there are no deals to be had on green vehicles, now would be the time to think again—and potentially head out shopping in the near future.

Data from the pricing-intelligence firm TrueCar shows that a lot of hybrid models are selling for well under sticker price. Surprisingly, for instance, dealers are typically lopping ten percent off the 2010 Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid, while the 2010 Nissan Altima Hybrid is getting, on average, more than five grand taken off its $27,500 sticker.

Based on thousands of transactions in January and February of 2010, TrueCar has calculated its most deeply discounted 2010 hybrid models. Please note that these are on a national average and significant regional variations exist in hybrid vehicle demand, then page through for the list, with some comments based on the firsthand experiences of TheCarConnection.com editors.

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2010 Nissan Altima Hybrid

2010 Nissan Altima Hybrid

2010 Nissan Altima Hybrid

MSRP (including destination): $27,500
TrueCar average national discount from MSRP: $5,015
TrueCar percent discount from MSRP: 18
EPA Fuel Economy: 35/33 mpg

The Nissan Altima Hybrid handles well for a frugal hybrid, by all accounts, and is tuned to feel just a little more responsive than the Toyota Camry Hybrid. But many shoppers don't know the Altima Hybrid even exists, and it's been sold in only a handful of states (California plus New England). And now that word is out about Nissan's upcoming LEAF electric vehicle, the most dedicated green-conscious shoppers might be holding out for a year or so.

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2010 Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid

2010 Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid

2010 Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid

MSRP (including destination): $55,875
TrueCar average national discount from MSRP: $5,332
TrueCar percent discount from MSRP: 10
EPA Fuel Economy: 21/24

Any of the normal gasoline versions of the ML have a thirst for premium—even if you go with the basic V-6 ML350, it only gets 15 mpg city, 20 highway with all-wheel drive. But the new ML450 Hybrid combines the gas V-6 with two electric motors and a nickel-cadmium battery pack to provide good acceleration yet return fuel economy figures well into the 20s. They're even still rated to tow 5,000 pounds. Finally, you can't actually buy an ML Hybrid; they're lease-only, but lease prices have already been discounted substantially.

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2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid

2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid

2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid 2WD

MSRP (including destination): $51,670
TrueCar average national discount from MSRP: $4,493
TrueCar percent discount from MSRP: 9
EPA Fuel Economy: 21/22

We've seen GM's hybrid SUVs discounted in newspaper car classifieds and in other dealership ads, and now we can confirm it with numbers: For some reason the Tahoe Hybrid doesn't seem to be selling well without incentives. That's a shame as the well-integrated Two-Mode hybrid system allows more than 20 mpg in normal driving without sacrificing serious towing capability.

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Angular Front Exterior View - 2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid 2WD 4-door

Angular Front Exterior View - 2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid 2WD 4-door

2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid 4WD Platinum

MSRP (including destination): $88,675
TrueCar average national discount from MSRP: $7,432
TrueCar percent discount from MSRP: 8
EPA Fuel Economy: 21/22

By applying the excellent Two-Mode Hybrid system, as used in the 2010 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid and GM's full-size pickups, to the 2010 Cadillac Escalade, GM has created a super-luxury SUV that owners don't have to feel so bad about. With a big 6.0-liter V-8 and an electric motor system, the hybrid system puts out 332 horsepower altogether and allows a 5,800-pound towing capacity. It's a full hybrid, meaning it can creep along at low speed as an electric vehicle. And, as Green Car Reports editor John Voelcker points out in his Bottom Line review of the Escalade Hybrid, the upgrade to the Hybrid model isn't even all that pricey.

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2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited

MSRP (including destination): $42,020
TrueCar average national discount from MSRP: $3,520
TrueCar percent discount from MSRP: 8
EPA Fuel Economy: 27/25

Toyota has offered a Hybrid version of its mid-size Highlander crossover for many years, and it's a great choice for families. The hybrid powertrain provides decent acceleration, but the rest of the driving experience is a little uninvolved, with a soft suspension and numb electric steering. It's relatively unusual to score such a good deal on the Highlander Hybrid, so we suspect it's a matter of recall-related incentives and dealers a little more willing to make a deal as of late.

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2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid

2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid

2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid

MSRP (including destination): $26,900
TrueCar average national discount from MSRP: $2,120
TrueCar percent discount from MSRP: 8
EPA Fuel Economy: 33/34

Just like the standard Toyota Camry, the Camry Hybrid is rather bland. But it feels like a much more substantial car than the Prius and is more settled on the highway. If you simply seek a slightly more refined, comfortable alternative to the Prius, it's in many respects a much better deal than the Lexus HS 250h

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2010 Ford Escape Hybrid

2010 Ford Escape Hybrid

2010 Ford Escape Hybrid Limited

MSRP (including destination): $33,095
TrueCar average national discount from MSRP: $2,375
TrueCar percent discount from MSRP: 7
EPA Fuel Economy: 34/31 (front-wheel drive)

Last year, the Ford Escape Hybrid got a smoother 2.5-liter engine to go along with its already quite responsive and well-coordinated hybrid system, which can run on electric power only up to 40 mph in some situations. Here at TheCarConnection.com we joke that the Escape Hybrid is the "baby kisser"—a favorite of campaigning politicians due to its high mileage and made-in-America pedigree.

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2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

MSRP (including destination): $28,675
TrueCar average national discount from MSRP: $2,133
TrueCar percent discount from MSRP: 7
EPA Fuel Economy: 41/36

Ford's Hybrid version of the Fusion is all-new for 2010, yet it's already selling at a significant discount. Seize the moment; in the opinion of TheCarConnection.com's editors, the 2010 Fusion Hybrid has one of the smoothest, most responsive hybrid systems today. It's also comfortable inside, with much-improved interior quality, and the Hybrid comes with an excellent in-dash display that helps monitor your mileage. Perhaps most important is that the Fusion wins in the numbers: With an EPA city rating of 41 mpg, the 2010 Fusion Hybrid tops both the Camry and Altima Hybrids by a very significant margin.

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2010 Honda Insight

2010 Honda Insight

2010 Honda Insight EX/Navi

MSRP (including destination): $23,810
TrueCar average national discount from MSRP: $1,729
TrueCar percent discount from MSRP: 7
EPA Fuel Economy: 40/43

The 2010 Honda Insight didn't get off to quite the right start, with some reviewers criticizing a number of aspects related to its performance. We think the Insight performs about right for its purpose, but the lack of backseat space is a little disappointing; so is its fuel economy, only if you hold it up next to the Prius' 51-mpg city figure. The Insight starts at a lower price than the Prius, but the top Insight EX is solidly into Prius territory—probably why the discounts to apply.

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Angular Front Exterior View - 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid 4-door Sedan L4 CVT

Angular Front Exterior View - 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid 4-door Sedan L4 CVT

2010 Honda Civic Hybrid

MSRP (including destination): $26,510 (w/ Nav)
TrueCar average national discount from MSRP: $1,642
TrueCar percent discount from MSRP: 6
EPA Fuel Economy: 40/45

The Civic isn't exactly fresh anymore, and it's slightly upstaged at dealerships by the new Insight, which might help explain it's being discounted. The Civic Hybrid uses essentially the same Integrated Motor Assist mild-hybrid system as the Insight, and it handles better, some think. All that, and it somehow manages slightly better highway fuel economy. Discounts on Hondas—and Civics in particular—are rare, so get one now if you're so inclined.

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2010 Toyota Prius

2010 Toyota Prius

2010 Toyota Prius III

MSRP (including destination): $24,550
TrueCar average national discount from MSRP: $1,323
TrueCar percent discount from MSRP: 5
EPA Fuel Economy: 51/48

Toyota's hybrid flagship is all-new for 2010, yet dealerships are already discounting mid-range models by more than $1,000 on average. Should we take this as a sign of trouble, or just Toyota making sure, with incentives, that dealerships keep moving vehicles during its recall-related troubled times?

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