While the auto industry in general offers an average incentive of more than $1,000 off the sticker price of any new vehicle, many buyers somehow assume this doesn't apply to hybrids.

Oh, but it does.

You can get money off pretty much any hybrid out there at the moment, since gasoline prices are far from the heights they reached in 2008. Back then, you'd pay list price and more--if you were lucky enough to find a dealer who wasn't outright gouging.

2010 mercedes benz ml450 hybrid 005

2010 mercedes benz ml450 hybrid 005

2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid

2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid

2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid

2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid

2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid

2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid

The 2010 Toyota Prius

The 2010 Toyota Prius

Top 10 hybrid discounts

Using actual pricing data provided by our partner TrueCar on thousands of January and February sales, our colleague Bengt Halvorson ran down the 10 most deeply discounted hybrids of all those available in the U.S. market.

(NOTE: TrueCar's data is averaged across the U.S., and significant differences in hybrid demand exist between, say, California and Kansas.)

2010 Altima Hybrid: the "invisible hybrid"

By far the most discounted hybrid is the 2010 Nissan Altima Hybrid, which sells for a remarkable 18 percent less ($5,015) than its sticker price of $27,500.  It's the invisible hybrid, since Nissan offers it only in a handful of Northeastern and Pacific states.

Only the badges identify it as a hybrid, and Nissan has done virtually no advertising for the car, which uses a version of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system. Instead, Nissan has turned all its green marketing muscle toward its upcoming 2011 Nissan Leaf electric car.

2010 Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid

Following that comes the new and pricey 2010 Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid, which is only offered for lease. The first hybrid crossover from the three-pointed star goes into contract at 10 percent less ($5,332) than its list price of $55,875.

The ML450 uses the Two-Mode Hybrid system jointly developed by General Motors, Daimler, Chrysler, and BMW. But the German makers have pulled out of the project, and developing their own future hybrids. The ML450 Hybrid may end up a technological orphan.

Big hybrid SUVs, plain and fancy

Third and fourth most discounted are a pair of GM Two-Mode Hybrid sport utility vehicles, using the same system as the Mercedes-Benz but in bigger, beefier, body-on-frame classic trucks.

The 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid goes for 9 percent ($4,493) off its base price of $51,670, and its fancier 2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid counterpart transacts at 8 percent off ($7,432) off the $88,675 price for the highest-end model, the 4WD Escalade Platinum Edition.

The envelopes, please

Here's the rest of the list:

Fifth: 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, $3,520 discount (8 percent) off base price of $42,020

Sixth: 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid,  $2,120 (8 percent) off base price of $26,900

Seventh: 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid, $2,375 (7 percent) off base price of $33,095

Eighth: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, $2,133 (7 percent) off base price of $28,675

Ninth: 2010 Honda Insight (EX model with Navigation), $1,729 (7 percent) off base price of $23,810

Tenth: 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid (with Navigation), $1,642 (6 percent) off base price of $26,510

And what of the quintessential, definitive hybrid car, the all-new, 50-mpg 2010 Toyota Prius? If you want the most popular model, known as the Prius III trim level, you'll get a mere 5 percent (or $1,323) off its $24,550 list price.

[The Car Connection]