Auto sales shaping up as best in years

The nation's automakers are reporting some strong March sales, with the help of increased demand for small cars.

It appears to be the best monthly performance in almost four years for the industry.

GM says its U.S. sales rose 12 percent last month, on solid demand for cars and small crossovers that get 30 miles a gallon or better on the highway.

Chrysler's sales jumped 34 percent, as buyers went for Fiat small cars and Chrysler sedans

Sales at Ford rose 5 percent, with the Focus small car selling much better than a year ago.

Americans who couldn't handle a new car payment during the economic downturn are back on the market -- at a time when gas is above $4 in parts of the country.

The buyers are leaning toward new fuel-efficient compacts like the Chevrolet Cruze and sub-compacts like the Honda Fit to save money.

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