Sales of new autos in the United States last year should post their performance since 2007, despite a slight dip in December, according to published reports.

Expectations are 2013 sales will be 8% higher from the year before, totaling 15.6 million vehicles, which would be the best since 16.1 million in 2007.

For 2013, Ford had the greatest sales gain with an 11% increase from 2012, totaling 2.5 million cars, light trucks and SUVs. Chrysler saw a 9% hike, with sales of 1.8 million, while GM sales rose 7% to 2.8 million. Toyota also added 7%, with sales increasing to more than 2.2 million vehicles.

In contrast December sales for Ford, GM, Toyota and Volkswagen were regarded as disappointing while Chrysler saw a 6% increase, its best December in six years. Some believe there were December sales that were pulled into November because of the four-day Thanksgiving weekend and December sales were likely hurt by severe weather in parts of the country.

Analysts are mixed when it comes to expected sales increases for 2014, with some predicting a continuation of a yearly hike of more than a million vehicles, which has happened annually since 2009, while others see it slowing to a still respectable 400,000 increase.

“The auto industry was a consistent bright spot in the economic recovery throughout 2013,” says Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager.  “We expect the economy will continue to gain strength in 2014, with car sales rising to pre-recession levels.”

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