Truck sales were up sharply in April over the year before. Who came out on top? Let me put it this way, if you bought a Ford F-Series you have plenty of company. A GMC Canyon? Not so much. Read on to see which models fall in between and why this is happening.

As reported in the WSJ Live video at the bottom of this page, there has been a rebound in demand for the kind of heavy-duty vehicles used by contractors. Pickup truck sales are an economic indicator and the economy is getting better. Last year the auto companies sold 1.6 million pickups; this year they expect to sell 1.8 million.

The average truck is 11 years old so the industry is on the verge of a big replacement cycle. The timing is good for the auto companies, as there are a number of new and upgraded trucks hitting or about to hit the market. Chrysler recently redesigned the Dodge Ram, Ford refreshed the F-150, and GM is about to introduce a new Silverado.

Stiffer federal fuel economy standards and the rising price of gas and diesel have put fuel economy front and center. To that end, GM is going to 6- and 8-cylinder engines that use half that number on the highway. Chrysler is putting 8 speed transmissions in some of their Rams. And Ford is pushing hard on their EcoBoost engine, the 6-cylinder turbocharged model that powers 40% of the trucks they sell.

The sales data in the chart on this page pulled from a story in Motor Trend's Truck Trend. As you can see, the Big Three dominate pickup truck sales, which is probably the only segment of the auto industry that they do. Toyota and Nissan have been trying to make inroads but are not having much success.