The new-car market in the United States experienced a gradual recovery in 2010, according JATO Dynamics, a provider of automotive intelligence.

Overall, 1.17 million more new cars and trucks were bought in the U.S. in 2010, than in 2009, with 11.6 million in total sales. This 11.2 percent growth was helped by a significant improvement in domestic brands with Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, GMC and Chrysler experiencing increases, 21.6 percent, 17.4 percent, 14.7 percent, 34 percent, 11.5 percent, respectively.

Toyota appears to have halted the dramatic decline it experienced in 2009 when sales fell by 18.2 percent. While total sales were down by 0.5 percent it managed to retain the number one spot for cars sold in 2010.

Dave Mitchell, head of business intelligence, JATO Dynamics, said: “The gradual economic recovery is good news for the U.S. car industry and although imported brands still dominate as vehicles of choice for small and mid-range cars, domestic brands have seen an increase in sales for both cars and trucks towards the end of 2010.”

The top five models for 2010 were imported brands from Toyota, Honda and Nissan, and the year’s best-selling car was the Toyota Camry, even though its sales fell by 8.1 percent vs. 2009. The sales of the second best-selling car, the Honda Accord, increased by 7.4 percent and ended 2010 with 311,381 units sold. Models from domestic brands such as Ford and Chevrolet have also experienced growth bringing them closer to the top five models, placing the Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu at sixth and seventh position.

Domestic brands still dominate critical SUV and truck sales with brands such as Ford, Chevrolet and Ram all experiencing an increase in sales (for example, the Ram Pickup increased 13.4 percent, Chevrolet Equinox was up 74.1 percent, and the Ford Edge up 34 percent). It wasn’t only domestic manufacturers who had a positive year, with Kia’s Sorento experiencing an impressive increase in sales from 24,460 to 108,985.

While small and mid-range cars are still top sellers, there is a growing appetite for larger vehicles such as SUV’s, trucks and mini-vans. For example, the number one full-size pickup truck is the Ford F-Series and its sales have increased by 27.7 percent, from 413,625 in 2009 to 528,349 in 2010.