American automakers have never been fond of small cars, products that seldom, if ever, yielded serious profits. Sure, there’ve been a couple valiant efforts, from General Motors a list that notably includes the controversial Chevrolet Vega, but often, Detroit’s offerings have been little more than reluctant afterthoughts.
That’s reflected in the sales and market share charts which have long been dominated by Japanese imports such as the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. But could the compact car segment by ripe for a revolution? As a well-regarded media analyst recently suggested, we may soon see a time when the best small cars on the market come from Detroit.
While we’ll have to wait a bit to get behind the wheel of the U.S. version of Ford’s next-generation Focus, we did have some extended driving time in the new 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. And what we experienced supports the idea that this new Chevy offering could displace its Japanese rivals as the benchmark to beat. (See Driving the Chevrolet Cruze – Mixing it up between the mid-size and compact segments.)