This will be Chevrolet's best year ever. Imagine that.

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Chevrolet is having its best year ever. Does that surprise you? It did me.

Every 6.6 seconds, someone somewhere in the world buys a Chevrolet car or truck.

That's why a record 4.3 million will be sold this year, including about 1.6 million here in the United States.

That's a pretty good way to celebrate the brand's 100th anniversary.

When I was a kid, most families were divided into one of three camps: General Motors, Ford or Mopar (Chrysler). You were one or the other, and defection from one to another was tantamount to switching political parties.

More than one schoolyard fight erupted from a my-dad's-Chevy-can-beat-up-your-dad's-Ford taunt. Loyalties were passionate and unshakable.

It was a simpler time when the domestic car manufacturers controlled most of the American market.

Mine was a GM family.

My father was the prototypical GM customer who purchased his way up through the brands beginning with Chevrolets, then Oldsmobiles and, finally, a Cadillac -- just like founder Billy Durant intended when he gathered the brands that comprised General Motors.

I somewhat continued the tradition, buying a couple of Pontiacs and even a Cadillac in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

As a closet GM fan, I am pleased with its trajectory since its flood of disappointing products late in the 1990s, and its subsequent bankruptcy and government bailout.

I just returned home from a ride and drive of the redesigned 2012 Chevrolet Malibu in Austin, Texas. It knocked me out.

Chevrolet pulled out all the stops to create a truly world-class sedan.

The styling, fit and finish, and attention to detail put Malibu squarely in the heart of the midsize sedan hunt that cars like Toyota Camry and Honda Accord have dominated for decades.

I was astounded by its quiet cabin -- Lexus quiet, by the way -- and its long list of standard features.

In its MalibuEco trim, it delivers 25 m.p.g city and 37 m.p.g. highway. All of this for a starting price well under $26,000.

Malibu, though, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Cruze topped the sales chart in the compact segment for much of 2011 with nearly 202,000 of them sold through October.

It's no wonder Chevrolet sales are up 14% in the United States this year. The products are competitive again, and buyers are starting to realize that.

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