I feared the Cruze would suffer from the apparent prejudice against domestically produced small cars but its sales prove me to be a pessimist…

Our neighbours to the south may still be suspicious of smaller vehicles, but they are more than welcome on driveways north of the border.

In the top 20 best sellers, 15 are compact or sub-compacts and the remaining five are by no means gas-guzzlers.

The Honda Civic is the perennial top seller, and according to the latest figures available, the Hyundai Elantra and the Toyota Corolla follow it. The Chevrolet Cruze – currently with a starting sticker price of a few bucks more than $15,200 – sits in a solid fourth place and it’s a ray of light for General Motors.

It recorded a five percent year-over-year sales increase in the first quarter reports. Its 2014 March sales were a fraction under 50 percent better than last year. In fact, it’s the brand’s bestseller with worldwide sales in excess of two million since its launch.

Much has been written about the Ford revival and its excellent world car products – most of which fall into the small car category. GM does have competing products in what’s become a crowded market. The sub-compact Sonic is in the top 20 but nothing has caught fire in the way the Cruze has.

It first surfaced here in late 2010 as a globally developed and designed compact four-door sedan and five-door hatchback, replacing the outgoing Cobalt. When I drove one of the early editions, I was impressed with its design and performance, which matched any rival. It’s a car for a small family starting out or singles with a daily commute on their hands. However, I feared the Cruze would suffer from the apparent prejudice against domestically produced small cars but its sales prove me to be a pessimist!

It may be a young’un but it’s already undergone some significant changes and engine improvements. Perhaps most significant among them was the introduction of a clean diesel version (pictured here) with a sticker price of around $26,000. It’s not inexpensive but Canadians like the 4.2 L/100 km highway fuel consumption offered by the 2-litre, turbocharged diesel powerplant.

The base Cruze LS is also easy on your gas budget. Its standard 6-speed manual transmission, coupled with a 1.4-litre powerplant, promises a highway fuel consumption rating of 5.4 L/100 km – the auto tranny makes that 5.6 L/100 km. The Cruze Eco’s 1.4L turbocharged ECOTEC engine, generates 138 horses and sips 4.6 L/100 km on the highway.

It looks good today but in 2015, the Cruze gets a significant visual refresh with an updated grille and body shape that will give it more than a passing resemblance to its larger sibling Malibu. We’re told it will get significant tech changes, including an infotainment system with a driver alert text system that can be read through smart phones and over Bluetooth, plus additional USB ports, and a 4G LTE connection enabling it to function as a WiFi hot spot. The Chevrolet AppShop will allow owners to download all available apps directly to the vehicle, offering access to vehicle data, music, news, weather and travel information. No prices yet.

Worth a serious look by import car fans.

Contact: keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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