The Ford Fusion midsize sedan is closing in on its best sales year since the car was launched in the U.S. in 2005 as a ’06 model.

Fusion deliveries in November climbed 11.7% on a daily-selling basis to a total of 18,919 units, according to WardsAuto data.

Deliveries in the first 11 months hit 216,047 units, making it likely the Fusion will sell more than 230,000 in 2011. The previous high was 219,219 set last year.

The Fusion’s share of the Lower Middle segment, as defined by WardsAuto, was 43.1% through October, good for first place in the segment.

Along with the Ford Explorer SUV and F-Series pickup, the Fusion played a critical role in lifting the auto maker’s November sales 9.1% to 164,304 units.

Explorer deliveries for the month soared 204.7% to 12,888 units, while F-Series demand climbed 21.0% to 45,603.

Despite those gains, November was a relatively quiet month for Ford, with other key nameplates posting declines. Among them, the Focus C-car saw sales drop 13.5% to 11,745 units.

“The Focus decline is all fleet driven,” Erich Merkle, Ford’s top U.S. sales analyst, says in a conference call with analysts and journalists. “Retail sales are up consistently from year-ago, and we have no heavy incentive offerings on (the) Focus.”

Other models with poor showings in November included the Fiesta and Mustang, down 1.8% and 9.4%, respectively.

However, the Escape small cross/over utility remained one of Ford’s strongest products, with 20,692 sales, marking a 40.2% year-over-year increase and a record month for the CUV, Ford says.

Merkle says small utilities such as the Escape are the driving force behind the resurgence in the U.S. market, and he expects that trend to continue into 2012.

He also says Ford’s uneven results in November were due to a seasonal lull in fleet demand.

The auto maker’s retail sales surged 20% in the month, but fleet deliveries slid 2%. Within the fleet decline, daily-rental tumbled 32%.

“This provided us with a retail mix of 72% of total sales,” Merkle says. “The strength in retail sales has pushed our retail share 3-month average over 15%, its highest in five years.”

bpope@wardsauto.com