He also said the quality of the vehicles played a role, attributing the improvement to Fiat’s ownership of Chrysler.
“I’ve been at the store for 12½ years, and I can honestly say this is the best I’ve ever seen the product,” he said. “This is the most aggressive I’ve ever seen the advertising.”
GM saw an 11 percent sales jump, with Chevrolet Silverado pickup sales rising 28 percent for the month. Armao said that pickups are always big sellers in this region, but that the increase at his dealership had been across all models.
Nissan reported a 23 percent sales gain from April 2012. Honda sales rose 7 percent, led by the CR-V small crossover SUV, while Hyundai sales were up 2 percent on strong sales of the Elantra compact. The only laggards were Toyota, with a sales decline of 1 percent, and Volkswagen, with a drop of 10 percent.
Final numbers for the industry will be released Wednesday, and analysts expect the overall sales increase to be about 10 percent from last April. That would make it the best April since 2007.
The upswing came despite high unemployment and mixed data on other economic indicators.
Chrysler Group LLC said it sold 156,698 cars and trucks last month. Sales of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV increased 27 percent. Dodge sales rose 18 percent, with the Dart compact car posting its best month ever with sales of nearly 8,100.
Ford Motor Co. sold 212,584 cars and trucks. The F-series pickup remains the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. Sales totaled 59,000 in April. And sales of the redesigned Escape SUV rose 52 percent.
General Motors Co. reported sales of 237,646 cars and trucks. Even with gas prices on the decline, compact cars remained popular. Sales of the Chevy Cruze rose 21 percent.