By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, June 3 (Reuters) - Canadian auto sales rose 5.3 percent in May, marking a slowdown from April, but far outpacing the lackluster 2.4 percent year-to-date growth, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc.
Across Canada, 185,040 vehicles were sold last month, just shy of the record set in May 2007 when 185,471 cars and trucks were sold, according to the independent auto analyst who compiles auto sales data.
Ford Motor Co was Canada's top auto seller as brisk demand for new trucks more than offset a decline in car sales.
Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors rounded out the top three sellers in Canada, with all three Detroit automakers performing better than the prior year. Toyota Motor Corp was not far behind, notching its best monthly Canadian sales since August 2008.
Ford said Canadian sales rose 0.5 percent last month compared to a year earlier, as total vehicle sales hit 32,490 in May, up from 32,338 last year.
Truck sales climbed 4.6 percent to 23,537 vehicles, while car sales fell 8.9 percent to 8,953 vehicles.
So far this year, Ford said its Canadian vehicle sales are up 5.7 percent over the same period in 2012. Truck sales are up 7.3 percent and car sales are 1.2 percent higher year-to-date.
Chrysler said its Canadian vehicle sales rose nearly 12 percent in May from a year ago, bolstered by record sales for key models and a jump in car sales.
Chrysler Canada, which said May sales ranked as one of its top 10 best months ever, sold 29,249 cars and trucks, up from 26,218 during the same period in 2012.
Car sales rose 24.3 percent to 7,033 vehicles, with its Dodge Avenger setting record sales. The Dodge Dart also had its best month since it launched less than a year ago.
Truck sales grew 8.1 percent to 22,216 vehicles, buoyed by record sales of its Ram truck and the Chrysler Town & Country minivan.
Year to date, total sales at Chrysler Canada have climbed 6 percent, with car sales up 16.2 percent and truck sales up 3.7 percent.
General Motors Co said Canadian sales rose 1.6 percent to 23,654 vehicles. Truck sales were up a modest 0.5 percent to 15,419, while car sales rose 3.6 percent to 8,235.
So far this year, GM Canada's total vehicle sales have climbed 2.6 percent. Truck sales gained 2.8 percent while car sales were up 2.1 percent.
Toyota Canada sales rose 12.3 percent from a year ago. The Japanese automaker sold 22,250 vehicles, with truck sales up 14.2 percent to 8,550, a record for May. Passenger car sales rose 9.2 percent to 11,533 units.
Honda Motor Corp's Canadian sales jumped 22 percent over the prior year.
In the U.S. market, Detroit's Big Three automakers dominated strong sales for pickup trucks, which boosted May U.S. auto sales after a disappointing April.
Total U.S. auto sales were on track to beat forecasts of a 6 percent rise from last year, to about 15.1 million vehicles on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate.