Consumers are still paying a premium in the showrooms on new technologies. Some relief, such as tax rebates, are available from the feds, although these incentives have tightened in recent years. For example, where the Toyota Prius hybrid once saw a tax rebate, no incentive is offered now that the model has achieved “mainstream” status. And the automaker has not knocked much off the sticker since, either.

So it’s important to weigh the benefits of emissions reduction, fuel economy improvement, and the amount time you expect to keep the vehicle against the price tag. Many early adopters of green cars, for example, were encouraged by rising gas prices. That is, the higher sticker price seemed a better value if fuel efficiency meant saving on gas. On the other hand, some hybrids come at a premium for only a marginal fuel efficiency — that is, an traditional car may actually get better mileage for a better price. In short, it pays to do your homework.