Chrysler, an affiliate of Italy's Fiat SpA, said Tuesday that November sales were 142,275, partly on the strength of its new 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected 135,189. Chrysler said it was the best November since 2007, before the auto industry plunged into a deep recession.
The three Detroit automakers and two of Japan's top three reporting year-to-year increases on Tuesday. Honda was alone among major automakers in reporting flat sales and missing analyst estimates.
General Motors reported a 14 percent jump in November. Ford sales rose 7 percent. Sales rose 10 percent at Toyota and 11 percent at Nissan.
The introduction of the redesigned 2014 Cherokee at Chrysler helped push Jeep brand sales to a record 45,415, up 30 percent. Fiat brand sales, however, dropped 15 percent to 3,075, despite the launch of the new Fiat 500L.
Pickup trucks displayed continued appeal, propelling Ram brand sales to 31,255, up 25 percent. Dodge brand sales rose 4 percent to 41,506, while Chrysler brand sales climbed 12 percent to 21,024.
Chrysler said it expects industry sales in November reached an annual rate of 16.3 million, including about 300,000 medium- and heavy-duty trucks.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had estimated the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate in November, not including the larger trucks, was 15.75 million.
Monthly sales are regarded as an early indicator of the U.S. economy's health. The industry has held up better than the broader economy because of easier access to credit and consumers' need to replace aging vehicles, which now average more than 11 years.
Analysts who closely follow the industry expected November sales rose from 3.6 percent to 6.8 percent as demand returned to "normal" after the 16-day government shutdown hurt October results.
GM and Ford were expected to show gains for November, marked by continued strong end-of-the-year demand for full-size pickup trucks like the Chevrolet Silverado and Ford F-150.
Industry research firm TrueCar.com said average vehicle transaction prices fell slightly in November for the first time in three years as manufacturers continued to clear out supplies of leftover 2013 models with generous incentives averaging more than $2,500 per vehicle.
2014 Jeep Cherokee Facts, from Associated Press:
BASE PRICE: $22,995 for Sport 4X2; $24,995 for Sport 4X4; $24,495 for Latitude 4X2; $26,495 for Latitude 4X4; $27,995 for Limited 4X2; $29,995 for Limited 4X4.
PRICE AS TESTED: $37,030.
TYPE: Front-engine, four-wheel drive, five-passenger, mid-size sport utility vehicle.
ENGINE: 3.2-liter, double overhead cam, Pentastar V-6.
MILEAGE: 19 mpg (city), 27 mpg (highway).
TOP SPEED: NA.
LENGTH: 182 inches.
WHEELBASE: 106.3 inches.
CURB WEIGHT: 4,004 pounds.
BUILT AT: Toledo, Ohio.
OPTIONS: Technology group (includes blind spot and cross traffic detection, forward collision warning and mitigation, lane departure warning) $2,155; luxury group (includes premium, leather-trimmed bucket seats, high-intensity discharge headlights, power liftgate, memory for exterior mirrors and radio) $1,595; upgrade to V-6 $1,495; UConnect with navigation $795.
DESTINATION CHARGE: $995.