Car buyers came out of hibernation in April with U.S. sales up by more than eight per cent and Canada seeing a more modest four per cent increase. 

Canadians bought 178,886 vehicles in April compared with 171,889 a year earlier, despite high gas prices and continued high unemployment.

Chrysler Canada saw a six per cent increase in its vehicle sales to 27,212, but Ford led the pack with 27,342 vehicles sold.

Ford said its April sales were down two per cent from a year ago at 27,342 vehicles. Consumers were seeking out fuel economy as cars sales climbed four per cent to 7,428, while truck sales slipped to 19,914.

At Chrysler Canada, strong truck and Jeep sales led to “the best April sales on record in the last quarter of a century," according to Dave Buckingham, Chrysler Canada’s chief operating officer.

General Motors, which has been tarnished by its massive recall, posted a 1.5 per cent overall increase to 25,435 vehicles sold in Canada for April, up from 25,071 a year ago.

Honda Canada reported combined sales of its Honda and Acura divisions totalled 15,667, up two per cent from 15,343 a year ago.

In the U.S., auto sales may total sales grew to just under 1.4 million cars and trucks, up about eight per cent from a year ago, according to Autodata Corp. That marks the best April since 2005 and most analysts believe the bonanza will continue.

Nissan led the way with an 18.3 per cent increase over a year ago, with sales of the redesigned Rogue small SUV up almost 27 per cent. Chrysler posted a 14 per cent gain, boosted by a big jump in sales of Jeep SUVs. Both companies reported record April sales. Toyota sales grew by 13 per cent, led by a double-digit gain in truck sales.

General Motors posted a seven per cent gain, led by the Buick Encore small SUV and the Chevy Silverado pickup truck.

But Ford sales fell by one per cent, though sales of its popular F-Series pickup, the bestselling vehicle in the U.S., rose 7.4 per cent. Sales at Volkswagen dropped by 8.4 per cent.

U.S. consumers bought 15.6 million new cars and trucks in 2013 and the industry had expected to surpass that in 2014. But a cold January and February saw auto sales fall by three per cent. March started slowly, but finished with a flourish.

"Sales momentum from March rolled into April, pushing the industry to its best back-to-back monthly sales pace since fall of 2007," Toyota vice-president Bill Fay said in a statement.

With files from Canadian Press