Toyota (IW 1000/5) led the pack with double digit gains Monday as an improving economic outlook and demand for replacement vehicles following the devastating Hurricane Sandy boosted U.S. auto sales in November.

Toyota sales were up 17% at 161,695 vehicles. 

Rivals Chrysler, Ford (IW 500/6) and GM (IW 500/4) managed to post their best Novembers in years with more modest but still solid growth.

Ford posted its best November since 2005, as sales rose 6% to 177,673 vehicles. The results were driven by strong demand for its small cars, which posted their best November in 12 years.

Chrysler's sales grew by 14% to 122,565 vehicles for the best November performance since 2007. It has now posted 32 consecutive months of sales gains and its sales are up 22% for the year to date.

GM sales rose by a modest 3% to 186,505 vehicles but it remains the automaker's best November performance since 2007. The largest U.S. automaker said one reason it fell behind is because its competitors have a larger presence in the East Coast and were able to reap more gains from the post-hurricane recovery efforts.

GM forecast that the industry would perform well in 2012, but expressed concern for 2013 results.

"Exactly how much growth we can expect next year will depend in part on how Congress and the president resolve the fiscal cliff issue," GM sales chief Kurt McNeil said in a statement.

"Consumers hate uncertainty, so an agreement on ways to reduce long-term federal budget deficits could remove an impediment to growth."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012