Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: July 2014

Today's sales figures continue to pave the road for a strong 2014. As the sales year steams into its second half, we've seen new optimism from analysts and automakers that expect total new-car sales this year to land close to where they were in the heyday years of the early 2000s.

Related: Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: June 2014

With the largest seven automakers reporting numbers so far today, industry sales increased 9 percent over July 2013. Honda was the odd one out (down 3.9 percent), but Hyundai-Kia, Toyota and recall-beset GM reported single-digit sales gains, while Chrysler, Ford, Nissan and Toyota reported double-digit gains. All of that is compared against a pretty good month a year ago for the industry, too.

Thanks to big gains from the Sentra and Versa, Nissan sales gained 11.4 percent. Small-car sales overall were mixed: Shoppers had more interest in the Ford Focus (up 5.7 percent) but not the recall-besieged Chevrolet Cruze (down 17.8 percent), the Honda Civic (down 7.3 percent) or the Hyundai Elantra (down 7.9 percent).

Popular SUVs, meanwhile, had a more consistent trend. Ford's Escape and Explorer both had double-digit sales gains, while the Toyota RAV4 gained 37.1 percent to land among the top 10 monthly sellers for the first time since March 2010. Chrysler's Jeep division, meanwhile, had a banner month. Shoppers drove Wrangler sales up 13.8 percent to the nameplate's best July ever. And it looks like the new Cherokee should have no trouble breaking 100,000 sales — or 150,000, even — in its first full year on the market. With 95,259 sales through July, Jeep's new smaller SUV is the brand's third best-seller by fewer than 10,000 units.

SUV popularity helped propel GM sales up 9.4 percent, continuing months of sales gains despite the automaker's unprecedented recalls in 2014. In a company statement, sales chief Kurt McNeil attributed the popularity to "American families feel[ing] better about the economy than they have in a long time."

Indeed, consumer confidence soared to a nearly seven-year high in July; through the first seven months of 2014, it's averaged higher than any single month in 2013, despite a few other softening economic indicators of late. Meanwhile, new-car prices continue to ebb. The average new car sold for $32,301 in early July, according to CNW Research. That's actually down 1.1 percent ($375) versus July 2013.

Here are July 2013's top 10 best-selling cars: photo by Evan Sears

Toyota RAV4 Nissan Dodge Toyota Ford F150 Honda Ford Chevrolet Best Sellers General Motors Industry Top 10s

Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price.  Email Kelsey