Chrysler Group’s June car deliveries, up nearly 50% vs. like-2006, held the auto maker to an overall sales decline of 5.05% in what a senior executive calls “a down market.”

Led by a trio of all-new midsize offerings – the ’07 Chrysler Sebring sedan, ’08 Sebring convertible and ’08 Dodge Avenger sedan – Chrysler recorded nearly 55,500 car sales, according to Ward’s data, adjusted for total sales days.

This partially offset an 18% shortfall in light-truck sales, marked by a 7% decline in deliveries of the aging Dodge Ram pickup.

To date this year, Chrysler sales are about flat at just over 1% above 2006 levels. This despite what U.S. Sales Vice President Darryl Jackson terms a “down market.”

But the big picture, Jackson adds, is positive. “From an overall perspective, we’re very well-positioned,” he says.

In particular, the auto maker has a stable of vehicles that can be equipped with economical 4-cyl. engines – a luxury Chrysler did not have last year when gasoline prices spiked.

Take rates for 4-cyl. Sebrings and Avengers are 70% and 75%, respectively – just about what the auto maker expected, Jackson says during a telephone news conference.

Dubbed the “World Engine,” Chrysler’s 4-cyl. mill is the product of a joint venture with Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. The engine is produced by the Global Engine Mfg. Alliance (GEMA) plant in Dundee, MI.

Despite the decline in Ram deliveries, there was an upside for Chrysler’s truck business. Jeep Wrangler sales continued to outstrip demand as sales jumped 85.9%.

“It’s crushing everything,” Jackson says.

Chrysler admits it low-balled its expectations for the redesigned SUV, 55% of which were sold as 4-door models.

“We knew we had a home run; we just didn’t know it was out of the stadium,” a spokesman says.

Meanwhile, Jackson reiterates a promise that Chrysler will continue to make public its sales, even though the company is going private under new owners Cerberus Capital Management LP.

The transaction, which sees the equity firm acquire an 80% stake in Chrysler from Germany-based DaimlerChrysler AG for $7 billion, clears another hurdle today with the European Union approving the deal.

emayne@wardsauto.com