The biggest positive news among volume brands has come from Chrysler, VW and Kia, but GM was essentially flat last month.

Most automakers have now reported their February 2012 sales figures, which paint a generally positive picture for nearly every volume brand. Chrysler, Volkswagen and Kia have the most reason to celebrate, but there is plenty of good news for Ford and Toyota.

The same can't be said for General Motors, where sales seem to have leveled off in response to a particularly strong February 2011.

Both GM and Ford estimate that the seasonally-adjusted annual sales rate - an educated guess as to what the final sales figure will be for the industry as a whole in the United States - has increased to just short of 15 million. That's a very positive number that brings the industry much closer to its pre-recession levels.

February's Numbers

Acura - Up 0.1 percent to 11,258

Audi - Up 10 percent to 8,531

BMW - Up 29 percent to 21,204

Buick - Down 11 percent to 14,023

Cadillac - Down 27 percent to 11,505

Chevrolet - Up 6 percent to 151,197

Chrysler - Up 114 percent to 27,008

Dodge - Up 27 percent to 42,692

Fiat - 3,227

Ford - Up 14 percent to 172,207

GMC - Up 0.1 percent to 32,581

Honda - Up 9 percent to 98,899

Hyundai - Up 18 percent to 51,151

Infiniti - Up 1 percent to 9,239

Jaguar - Up 48 percent to 1,022

Jeep - Up 30 percent to 37,312

Kia - Up 37 percent to 45,038

Land Rover - Up 27 percent to 3,255

Lexus - Up 21 percent to 16,678

Lincoln - Up 16 percent to 6,912

Maserati - Up 20 percent to 191

Mazda - Up 32 percent to 25,651

Mercedes-Benz - Up 17 percent to 18,910

Mitsubishi - Down 31 percent to 4,736

MINI - Up 42 percent to 4,980

Nissan - Up 17 percent to 97,492

Porsche - Up 6 percent to 2,149

Ram - Up 15 percent to 23,282

Smart - Up 59 percent to 769

Subaru - Up 17 percent to 25,374

Suzuki - Up 48 percent to 2,425

Toyota (Includes Scion) - Up 12 percent to 142,745

Volkswagen - Up 42 percent to 30,703

Volvo - Up 10 percent to 5,263

BMW Group - Up 32 percent to 26,184

Chrysler - Up 40 percent to 133,521

Daimler - Up 18 percent to 19,683

Ford Motor Company - Up 14 percent to 179,119

General Motors - Up 1 percent to 209,306

American Honda - Up 8 percent to 110,157

Hyundai Group - Up 26 percent to 96,189

Jaguar Land Rover - Up 32 percent to 4,277

Nissan North America - Up 16 percent to 106,731

Toyota USA - Up 12 percent to 159,423

2011 YTD Numbers

Acura - Up 3 percent to 19,639

Audi - Up 15 percent to 17,885

BMW - Up 16 percent to 37,609

Buick - Down 17 percent to 24,231

Cadillac - Down 28 percent to 20,429

Chevrolet - Up3 percent to 275,061

Chrysler - Up 100 percent to 44,612

Dodge - Up 28 percent to 74,146

Fiat - 5,138

Ford - Up 12 percent to 303,796

GMC - Down 4 percent to 57,547

Honda - Up 9 percent to 173,527

Hyundai - Up 16 percent to 93,845

Infiniti - Down 3 percent to 16,035

Jaguar - Up 23 percent to 2,007

Jeep - Up 34 percent to 69,022

Kia - Up 33 percent to 80,555

Land Rover - Up 34 percent to 6,460

Lexus - Up 8 percent to 28,952

Lincoln - Up 5 percent to 12,033

Maserati - Up 26 percent to 345

Mazda - Up 48 percent to 49,647

Mercedes-Benz - Up 20 percent to 40,140

Mitsubishi - Down 25 percent to 9,447

MINI - Up 33 percent to 8,314

Nissan - Up 15 percent to 170,009

Porsche - Up 6 percent to 4,699

Ram - Up 25 percent to 41,752

Smart - Up 50 percent to 1,265

Subaru - Up 19 percent to 48,181

Suzuki - Down 7 percent to 3,930

Toyota (Includes Scion) - Up 10 percent to 255,011

Volkswagen - Up 45 percent to 58,030

Volvo - Up 7 percent to 9,724

BMW Group - Up 19 percent to 45,923

Chrysler - Up 42 percent to 234,670

Daimler - Up 21 percent to 41,413

Ford Motor Company - Up 11 percent to 315,829

General Motors - Down 2 percent to 377,268

American Honda - Up 9 percent to 193,166

Hyundai Group - Up 23 percent to 174,400

Jaguar Land Rover - Up 31 percent to 8,467

Nissan North America - Up 13 percent to 186,044

Toyota USA - Up 10 percent to 283,963

The Domestics

Chrysler had its best February since 2008, which also marks its 23rd consecutive month of gains. Granted, Chrysler saw some of its worst sales ever about two years ago, but its picture is still fairly bright. Chrysler division was the brightest spot, especially the 300 sedan, which nearly quintupled its February 2011 number. Jeep and Dodge also had pretty solid months overall.

Ford's biggest gain came from its Focus, which topped 20,000 sales for the first time in a while. Sales were up 115 percent for the compact car, but that's over an especially weak February 2011. The brand also nearly doubled Mustang sales, while its pickups gained as well. But nearly everything else in its portfolio saw a modest decline.

GM continues to suffer, although the automaker is quick to correctly point out that it had an especially strong start to 2011. The biggest decline came at Cadillac, although that brand is down two products compared to this time last year (DTS and STS). Buick also struggled; its new Verano's 1,688 deliveries couldn't offset the 2,574 Lucernes it sold last year (yes, we realize the Verano did not replace the Lucerne). Chevrolet was the automaker's only bright spot last month.

The Asians

Honda seems to be turning around its mainstream product sales; redesigned Civic and CR-V models had strong months with sales up 36 and 25 percent, respectively. Acura's sales were mostly flat overall, and it sold just 56 ZDXs and 28 RLs.

Hyundai saw its best-ever February, and it says that retail sales were up 29 percent, while overall sales were up 18 percent. Sonata remains its volume player, but nearly every one of its products boasted an improved month.

Kia finished its 18th-consecutive month of record-breaking sales on strong numbers for nearly all of its products. A small decline in Sportage and Sorento demand was offset by more than twice as many Optima deliveries (up to 11,558).

Mazda's financial woes have made the news lately, but things might turn around quickly if it keeps breaking sales records. It posted its best February since 1994 on strong demand for its Mazda3 and Mazda6, which were up 40 and 80 percent, respectively.

Nissan posted its best-ever February on strong demand for a number of its products, but its biggest standout was definitely the Altima. Although a redesigned model will debut in a month at the New York show, Nissan delivered 58 percent more Altimas last month than they did last year. In fact, Nissan's midsizer outsold the Chevrolet Silverado.

Toyota's two divisions are posting a turnaround thanks to their mainstream sedans. At Toyota, demand was up more than 50 percent for Yaris and Avalon, while Camry surged ahead of rivals to become the country's second-best selling vehicle last month. Lexus saw demand increase 560 percent for its redesigned GS, which was its second-best selling passenger car. Trucks and crossovers were down for both divisions, however.

The Europeans

Audi once again broke a monthly record, its 14th consecutive month to do so. Demand was up for Q5, A6 and A3, but down slightly for A4 and A8. Q7 slid nearly 50 percent.

February was BMW's best such month in five years, and its redesigned 3-Series provided the biggest boost (up 66 percent). MINI was an even stronger performer with sales up nearly 50 percent.

Chrysler's Fiat brand had its best month since relaunching here about a year ago.

Jaguar bounced back strongly last month on increased demand for its XF and XK models; XF sales nearly doubled, while XK sales nearly tripled, although volume for both models remains low.

VW had its best February in nearly 40 years, with its Passat boasting its best month in more than a decade. While VW is still a long way off from its goal of selling 800,000 cars annually (combined with Audi), it still had plenty of reason to celelbrate last month. Passat's 8,189 deliveries mark a comical 11,434 percent improvement over last year, when 71 leftover outgoing models were sold.

Leftlane's bottom line

Perhaps the biggest morsel of news to come out of today's sales figures is GM and Ford's estimate that annual sales could hit nearly 15 million if they continue at their current pace. That's still a ways off of the 16.1 million new cars sold five years ago in 2007 and that was down from 17 million just a couple of years before.

The biggest beneficiary so far is Chrysler, which emerged from the doldrums of especially weak sales in 2009, 2010 and early 2011. But look beyond the headlines and you'll see continued steady and increasingly rapid progress from Hyundai, VW and Kia. All three brands are hardly finished with their new product onslaughts and all three are vying to be uttered in the same breath as industry stalwarts like Toyota, General Motors, Ford and even Nissan.