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5 Best-Selling Small Cars in May

Tickers in this article: F GM TM HMC

DETROIT ( TheStreet) -- This time, when fuel prices rose dramatically and demand rose for compact cars, Detroit automakers were ready.

In May, for the first time in five years, GM(GM) made the best-selling compact car in the U.S., as its Chevrolet Cruze sold 22,711 units. The Ford(F) Focus was second, at 22,303 units.

Chevy Cruze
Chevrolet Cruze sales soared in May.

Of course, production woes in Japan put a temporary ceiling on the Honda(HMC) and Toyota(TM) production. But it is clear that the success of the Cruze and the Focus reflects not only a temporary setback for rivals, but also gains for Detroit in the areas of competitive worker compensation and commitment to better small cars.

Compact cars represented 16% of U.S. sales in May, up 19% year-to-date.

Read on for the top five small cars in the U.S. in May.

No. 5: Toyota Corolla

The fifth best-selling compact was the Toyota Corolla, long a segment leader.

Corolla sales fell 31.7% in May to 16,895.

Toyota's biggest loser was the Prius. Its sales lost a whopping 47%, even more than the Corolla, because production of the car, which is made in Japan, fell off after the earthquake and tsunami.

Year-to-date through May 31, Corolla sales were down 0.6% to 117,875.

No. 4: Honda Civic

In May, sales of the Honda Civic fell 30.2 to 18,341, although year-to-date Civic sales were up 2.8% to 110,086.

Overall, Honda's U.S. sales fell 16% in May to 81,773, even though the sales of the newly redesigned Odyssey minivan gained 5.5% to 9,428, while Honda Fit sales rose 46.3% to 5,921. Despite the decline, Civic was still the leading Honda product.

No. 3: Hyundai Elantra

Built in Montgomery, Ala., the Elantra was redesigned late in 2010.

May sales rose 104% to 20,006. Year-to-date sales totaled 83,309.

"With high gas prices continuing to alter consumer behavior, car buyers are increasingly looking at Hyundai's fuel-efficient line-up, with the all-new Accent, Elantra sedan, and Sonata Hybrid all delivering 40 miles per gallon, standard," said Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai executive vice president of national sales, in a prepared statement.

No. 2: Ford Focus

The No. 2 top-selling compact in May was the Ford Focus.

Focus May sales rose 31.7% to 22,303. Year-to-date sales total 76,639, up 2.7%.

For Ford, May was the best small car month since May 2008. The Fiesta and Focus combined for 29,423, up 74% from a year earlier. Focus sales rose 32% to 22,303.

Sales of the mid-sized Ford Fusion, Ford's best-selling car, rose 10% to 24,666. Eighty percent of Fusion buyers chose a four-cylinder engine, up from 50% five years ago.

No 1: Chevy Cruze

The Cruze's May sales totaled 22,711. Year-ago- sales of predecessor Cobalt totaled 16,173. Year-to-date Cruze sales total 98,076, making Cruze the third best-selling U.S. compact.