Special to the Salem News
Boosted by rising gasoline prices, sales of the Chevrolet Cruze compact car surged past the 20,000 mark in February for the first time since August, according to General Motors Co.'s report Thursday.
The Lordstown-built small car posted 20,427 sales, snapping a string of five months below the 21,807 recorded in August.
GM's small-car lineup of the Cruze, Chevrolet Sonic and Volt, along with the new Buick Verano, saw sales rise 43 percent in the month over the same month in 2011, pacing GM's overall 1.1 percent sales gain to 209,306 cars and trucks versus a strong year-ago month, the company said.
"The Cruze continues to be a more and more important part of our portfolio," GM Vice President of sales Don Johnson said in a conference call with analysts and reporters.
The car continues to win plaudits, the latest coming from U.S. News & World Report magazine, which named it a best compact car of the year for the money.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earlier make it a top safety pick.
With gasoline prices nearing $4 a gallon, the Cruze ranked 13th overall and fifth among small cars in February sales.
The Honda Civic was the best-selling small car, fifth overall, in February at 27,087, followed by the Ford Focus, seventh overall, at 23,350; the Toyota Corolla/Matrix, ninth overall, at 22,148 and the Toyota Prius/Prius v, 12th overall, at 20,589.
Lordstown built 26,092 Cruzes in February, its best month since 26,717 in October, GM reported.