DETROIT — U.S. auto sales put in their strongest performance of the year in October as buyers grew more confident in the economy and new models lured them into dealerships.
Every major automaker but Toyota chalked up better results last month. Overall industry sales climbed 13.4 percent to 950,165.
October's seasonally adjusted annual sales rate — which shows what sales would be if they stayed at the same rate all year — was 12.26 million vehicles. That's the best monthly rate since August 2009, when Cash for Clunkers spurred Americans to buy more cars and trucks.
"The trends are positive, and we are going in the right direction," said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends at car pricing tracker TrueCar.com. Sales aren't increasing as fast as the industry would like, he said, but "we are seeing more confidence by consumers to make big-ticket purchases in an uncertain economic environment."
Chrysler, Ford, Honda and Nissan all saw double-digit jumps in sales compared with the previous October. General Motors, which is preparing for an initial stock offering later this month, saw sales rise 3.5 percent.
Toyota, which has been struggling with safety recalls and an aging lineup, saw sales drop 4 percent. Sales of its Camry sedan, which hasn't been updated in three years, fell 14 percent in October. The rival Hyundai Sonata saw sales double.
GM's sales were driven by its sport utility vehicles and wagons, which posted increases of 36 percent for October. Sales of GM's most popular wagons — the Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain and Cadillac SRX — were up 58 percent compared with the previous October. Truck sales also were up.
Ford's sales rose 19 percent. Among the winners was the F-Series pickup, which saw sales rise 24 percent, thanks in part to a monthlong promotion. Sales of the redesigned Edge wagon, which recently went on sale, jumped 24 percent.
Chrysler Group LLC's sales rose 37 percent, partly on the strength of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, which saw sales more than triple. Ram pickup sales rose 41 percent.