Hottest new small cars for 2012

Last Updated Oct 21, 2011 9:38 AM EDT

Looking for a big trend in the auto industry? You'd better think small.

The web site reports that some of the biggest recent gains in consumer interest have been around new 2012 small-car models from Chevrolet, Hyundai and Fiat -- as well as the redesigned Volkswagen Beetle.

"In the past, small cars didn't fare very well with American shoppers, as many of the available options were considered cheap and lacking in features," says Rick Wainschel, vice president of automotive insights at AutoTrader. "However, the small cars being produced today are exciting, fun to drive and fuel-efficient."

Small cars introduced in 2011, such as the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Cruze, have already been selling well. And Chevrolet has just announced plans for an urban minicar called the Spark(above right) in 2013, which will have both gasoline and all-electric versions.

But here's a closer look at the 2012 small-car models that already are sparking consumer interest.

Next: Chevrolet Sonic

  • Jerry Edgerton On Twitter»

    View all articles by Jerry Edgerton on CBS MoneyWatch»
    Jerry Edgerton, author of Car Shopping Made Easy, has been covering the car beat since Detroit companies dominated the U.S. market. The former car columnist for Money magazine and Washington correspondent for Business Week, Edgerton specializes in finding the best deals on wheels and offering advice on making your car last.