DETROIT — The Chevrolet Cruze is due to hit showrooms by the end of this month, and General Motors Co. is confident it will make waves in the small-car market — so confident, in fact, the OEM is urging Chevrolet dealers to keep a 2011 Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla on their lots for comparison test drives.

Lesley Hettinger, a GM spokesperson, is helping to lead the Cruze’s launch. She said that, despite several headlines to the contrary, the manufacturer will not require its dealers to stock competitors’ vehicles.

“We are encouraging, but not demanding, that dealers have the competing cars on hand,” Hettinger told F&I and Showroom. “We believe the Cruze is going to redefine the small-car category with its amenities, fuel economy and segment-leading safety features.”

The Cruze replaces the smaller Chevrolet Cobalt, which held a 7.3 percent share of U.S. small-car sales as of July. In 2009, the segment represented 17.4 percent of U.S. auto sales, a number that could grow to 18.6 percent by 2014, according to