Chrysler was one of the stars in a challenging month for automakers. Extreme weather was blamed for another lackluster sales month but Chrysler customers helped the company post its 47th month of sales gains and put the Jeep and Ram brands in the top five for most improvement. Since it's technically part of the family now, Maserati delivered the largest advance of any brand with a 426% leap in sales.

Jeep was a powerhouse, with the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee in the top 10% of the 275 light vehicle models with actual sales last month. Only Maserati delivered a larger gain. The Grand Cherokee was No. 6 among all SUV/CUV vehicles while the Cherokee was eighth.

The Ram brand was fifth on the hit parade as the Ram pickup reported the most growth of any full-size pickup.

The outgoing Chrysler 200 was also in the top 10%, ranking 14th among passenger cars in sales volume.

At the other end of the spectrum, Dodge was among the big losers for February, done in by a big drop in car sales. In light trucks, Dodge fared much better as the Durango, Grand Caravan and Journey all surpassed their February 2013 results. The Grand Caravan re-took the minivan crown, not just for the month but for the first two months of 2014. The Chrysler Town & Country came in third.

Trucks accounted for 71% of Chrysler Group sales compared to 62.1% last year. This mirrors a trend in the industry: last month, trucks claimed 51.2% of the total market, three full percentage points more than February 2013. Ford got two-thirds of its sales from trucks.

The Fiat 500, all by itself, outsold the entire MINI line. It also beat the Toyota Yaris, every Scion model and the Chevy Spark.

Chrysler picked up some serious market share going from 11.7% in February 2013 to 13.0% last month as it closed the gap between it and third-ranked Toyota to just 4,418 units.

Looking forward, there are some headwinds including a serious threat to Chrysler's nearly four-year string of improved monthly sales. With the end of production of the current Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger, there will be a gap as dwindling inventory limits sales and two cars are replaced by just one. This will make year-over-year comparisons increasingly unfavorable until the new 200 can pick up the slack. The last reported sales of the Jeep Liberty were in September 2013, so its legacy will also drag down the balance sheet. Of course, with any luck, strong Jeep and Ram sales will cover the losses.

Then there's the Dart. There needs to be some serious soul-searching in Auburn Hills because the smallest Dodge isn't cutting it in the marketplace. A look at the sales of the six vehicles suggested on the Dart Comparison page tells the story. So far this year, the Dart is generating barely half the volume of the Volkswagen Jetta sedan.
Brand & ModelFeb-14Feb-13ChangeCYTD 2014CYTD 2013Change
Toyota Corolla25,29924,9991.2%48,05248,821-1.6%
Honda Civic21,57522,713-5.0%43,39944,594-2.7%
Chevrolet Cruze21,83617,94721.7%38,66432,47119.1%
Hyundai Elantra16,39316,2191.1%31,71928,39311.7%
Ford Focus15,92620,808-23.5%27,92936,969-24.5%
Volkswagen Jetta Sedan10,59710,3981.9%19,05219,487-2.2%
Dodge Dart4,8887,720-36.7%9,93914,874-33.2%
There have been glitches in the Dart's history and there are some known issues, but the Dart is a good car; perhaps some corporate TLC can help it fulfill its promise.

In the February sales standings, the Jeep Grand Cherokee was the big gainer, moving up 17 spots, while the Dart was the big loser, falling 27 places.

Brand & ModelFeb-14Feb-13ChangeCYTD 2014CYTD 2013Change
Ram Pickup & Chassis Cab49+5310+7
Jeep Grand Cherokee2239+172126+5
Chrysler 2002526+12427+3
Jeep Cherokee27N/AN/A260N/A
Jeep Wrangler3331-23332-1
Dodge Grand Caravan4228-143746+9
Chrysler Town & Country4344+14248+6
Dodge Avenger4433-115528-27
Dodge Journey4549+44944-5
Dodge Charger4830-184841-7
Jeep Patriot585805961+2
Dodge Durango6977+87079+9
Dodge Dart7447-276949-20
Chrysler 3007970-98465-19
Jeep Compass8487+38191+10
Dodge Challenger9174-179577-18
Fiat 50010797-1010799-8
Fiat 500L185N/AN/A186N/AN/A
Ram ProMaster198N/AN/A200N/AN/A
Ram Cargo van201203+2208203-5
SRT Viper261276+15261279+18
Manufacturers reported sales for 292 light vehicles in February