However, that's not to say that there weren't a number of bright spots, especially from Chrysler and Toyota, both of which saw significant increases across their lines.
Ford and Chevrolet had the highest overall volume last month, but Toyota and all of Chrysler's brands gained quite a bit of market share.
Acura - Up 5 percent to 12,175
Audi - Up 15 percent to 11,521
BMW - Up 12 percent to 21,062
Buick - Down 16 percent to 15,446
Cadillac - Down 25 percent to 9,851
Chevrolet - Down 8 percent to 155,487
Chrysler - Up 56 percent to 31,879
Dodge - Up 2 percent to 45,248
Fiat - Up 436 percent to 3,849
Ford - Down 5 percent to 174,042
GMC - Up 5 percent to 32,603
Honda - Down 3 percent to 109,837
Hyundai - Up 1 percent to 62,264
Infiniti - Up 5 percent to 7,129
Jaguar - Down 14 percent to 1,073
Jeep - Up 19 percent to 38,684
Kia - Up 1 percent to 47,550
Land Rover - Up 10 percent to 3,292
Lexus - Down 0.1 percent to 17,551
Lincoln - Down 13 percent to 6,308
Maserati - Up 1 percent to 232
Mazda - Up 4 percent to 21,506
Mercedes-Benz - Up 24 percent to 22,336
Mitsubishi - Down 35 percent to 5,280
MINI - Down 11 percent to 5,731
Nissan - Down 1 percent to 64,200
Porsche - Up 8 percent to 3,437
Ram - Up 12 percent to 21,505
Smart - Up 64 percent to 764
Subaru - Up 6 percent to 26,310
Suzuki - Down 17 percent to 1,774
Toyota (Includes Scion) - Up 13 percent to 160,493
Volkswagen - Up 32 percent to 37,525
Volvo - Down 24 percent to 4,848
BMW Group - Up 6 percent to 26,793
Chrysler - Up 20 percent to 141,165
Daimler - Up 31 percent to 25,066
Ford Motor Company - Down 5 percent to 180,350
General Motors - Down 8 percent to 213,387
American Honda - Down 2 percent to 122,012
Hyundai Group - Up 1 percent to 109,814
Jaguar Land Rover - Up 3 percent to 4,365
Nissan North America - Down 0.3 percent to 71,329
Toyota USA - Up 12 percent to 178,044
2012 YTD Numbers
Acura - Up 1 percent to 42,980
Audi - Up 16 percent to 40,991
BMW - Up 16 percent to 82,611
Buick - Down 16 percent to 52,782
Cadillac - Down 24 percent to 40,817
Chevrolet - Up 3 percent to 603,621
Chrysler - Up 76 percent to 111,217
Dodge - Up 17 percent to 171,470
Fiat - Up 920 percent to 12,699
Ford - Up 5 percent to 692,453
GMC - Up 2 percent to 124,487
Honda - Up 3 percent to 399,197
Hyundai - Up 11 percent to 225,837
Infiniti - Down 4 percent to 33,349
Jaguar - Up 17 percent to 4,401
Jeep - Up 30 percent to 152,830
Kia - Up 22 percent to 185,610
Land Rover - Up 24 percent to 13,951
Lexus - Up 3 percent to 66,647
Lincoln - Down 0.4 percent to 27,144
Maserati - Up 19 percent to 834
Mazda - Up 22 percent to 103,529
Mercedes-Benz - Up 18 percent to 83,849
Mitsubishi - Down 23 percent to 21,887
MINI - Up 6 percent to 19,911
Nissan - Up 12 percent to 322,287
Porsche - Up 4 percent to 10,596
Ram - Up 17 percent to 91,000
Smart - Up 46 percent to 3,028
Subaru - Up 16 percent to 106,878
Suzuki - Down 6 percent to 8,335
Toyota (Includes Scion) - Up 13 percent to 598,681
Volkswagen - Up 38 percent to 131,898
Volvo - Down 3 percent to 21,265
BMW Group - Up 14 percent to 102,522
Chrysler - Up 33 percent to 539,216
Daimler - Up 22 percent to 91,972
Ford Motor Company - Up 5 percent to 719,597
General Motors - Down 0.4 percent to 821,707
American Honda - Up 3 percent to 442,177
Hyundai Group - Up 16 percent to 411,447
Jaguar Land Rover - Up 22 percent to 18,352
Nissan North America - Up 10 percent to 393,690
Toyota USA - Up 12 percent to 665,328
Chrysler was by far Detroit's strongest automaker last month, with its best April since 2008 and its 25th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases. Jeep's Wrangler and Dodge's Challenger had their best April ever, while the Dodge Avenger broke an all-time record.
Perhaps most notable at Chrysler was that the Chrysler 200 became the automaker's second-best seller (at 13,343 units) behind the Ram full-size pickups.
While Ford was off overall last month, the Blue Oval's Edge and Fusion had their best-ever Aprils. Still, sales slid 44 percent for the Fiesta, 20 percent for the Escape and 27 percent for the Lincoln MKZ.
The picture wasn't that much different at General Motors, where most divisions saw declines. GM says that the "timing of rental customer deliveries"ť saw its fleet sales drop 25 percent last month. By comparison, its retail sales were "essentially equal"ť to April 2011. Individually, GM saw mixed results; Buick and Cadillac were generally weak, while trucks, crossovers and SUVs were mostly strong.
Although Honda's recent moves have been panned by many critics, the automaker seems to be making a modest sales comeback; three of its models (Accord, Civic, CR-V) cracked the overall top 10 (to come tomorrow). Civic Hybrid sales were up 612 percent, while the automaker hit an April sales record for its new CR-V. Meanwhile, Acura's redesigned RDX saw sales up 65 percent compared to the outgoing model, while the Accord sedan had a particularly strong month.
Mazda hasn't had a lot of good news lately, but the automaker says that last month was its best since 2008. The automaker's big hit was its new CX-5 crossover, which saw 3,521 deliveries in its second full month on the market.
Nissan's sales were all over the place, but perhaps the biggest news was that its Infiniti division saw a 5 percent gain thanks only to the new JX large crossover. The JX's 2,079 deliveries were offset by more than 19 percent declines for all Infinitis other than the QX56 (down 6 percent). Nissan, meanwhile, had a weak month for its typically strong-selling Altima (dealer inventories are likely low since a new model is due out soon).
Toyota's larger Prius line (which now includes the Prius v and Prius c) had its best-ever April, as sales were up nearly across the board for the Japanese automaker. Interestingly, Toyota's smallest car - its new Scion iQ - outsold its largest SUV - the Toyota Sequoia, 962 to 882 units.
Are the Koreans plateauing? Both Hyundai and Kia posted modest 1 percent gains last month, due in part, the automakers say, to limited production capacity. Regardless, both broke April records.
Audi had its 16th consecutive best-ever month on big gains for its A6 (up 137 percent), although its highest-volume model, the A4, was off 7 percent.
BMW's two brands posted mixed results, although the automaker was pretty happy with a 21 percent gain (to just over 9,000 cars) for its redesigned 3-Series. Arch rival Mercedes-Benz had its best-ever April, topping BMW by about 1,000 units, a staggering 104 of which were $190,000-plus SLS AMGs.
VW had its best April in more than 40 years - when its biggest news was the arrival of the Super Beetle. Fueling its growth was the Passat, which broke 10,000 units for the second time. VW is still a ways off from its goal of 800,000 units annually by 2018 (including Audi), but it is making steady progress.
Leftlane's bottom line
Because of the way the calendar fell this year, April's numbers required a little more sorting through than most months. But there's no hiding the fact that Chrysler is on a roll and Toyota seems to be rebounding - at the expense of Ford, General Motors and Honda.
With a couple of extra selling days, May will likely be an especially strong month for a few automakers. In addition, production cuts and inventory shortages caused by the tsunami in Japan were first felt in May of 2011, so we could see some especially big-on-paper gains from Japan's automakers. Stay tuned.