When gas prices spiked in 2008, most automakers weren’t prepared to counter with a wide selection of the high-quality, fuel-efficient, reasonably priced cars that consumers craved. Times have changed. When gas prices rose last summer, manufacturers were ready with “value cars” such as the Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus, and Chevy Cruze. As prices at the pump soared in early 2012, drivers have understandably demonstrated strong interest in cars with better mileage, which typically means vehicles that are smaller: In February, small cars accounted for 23% of all vehicles sold, compared to 19% the year before. Automakers have realized small cars can mean big business, and plenty of compacts, subcompacts, and “minis” have hit the market recently or will do so soon. Here are 10 of the hottest little new models.
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