Sorry Civic, There’s a New Compact in Town

2012 Honda Civic

How long has it been since the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic haven’t occupied the top two spots on the list of best selling compact cars in the United States?

I don’t know for sure. But I’ve been alive for 34 years, and I can’t remember a small car seriously challenging either iconic nameplate. The Hyundai Elantra, Nissan Sentra, Volkswagen Jetta and a few others have sold reasonably well, but never enough to knock the Civic and Corolla off the top of the mountain.

Certainly no American car has ever come close. But that was before a series of unfortunate events for one company contributed to the sudden rise of what could be a new American king of the mountain.

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August Auto Sales Show Shifting Supremacy

Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Remember when Toyota and Honda were the darlings of the auto industry? When their reputations were flawless, their vehicles were rock-solid and their sales numbers consistently ranked at the top of monthly lists?

I remember those days, too. They were, like, six months ago.

Today the automotive landscape looks much different. The once laughable American Big 3 have seen huge gains. Toyota and Honda have fallen off their thrones, and Hyundai Group just might be poised to take the top spot.

Is this a brief interruption in the regularly scheduled domination of the Japanese, or have the tables shifted to allow the U.S. and Korean automakers some time at the top?

Time will tell. For now Chrysler (aka the FIAT Group), General Motors and Ford reported increased sales of 23 percent, 16 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Honda sales are down 6 percent, and Toyota’s fell by 8 percent. While Chrysler/FIAT may appear to be a big winner, Hyundai became the king of the first 8 months of 2011 by racking up an additional 29 percent in sales compared to the same time period last year.

Keep reading for a comparison of other automakers and to see which are thriving and which are hurting.

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