Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. sold 0.4% fewer cars and light trucks in 2010 than in 2009, totaling 1.76 million units.

Monthly deliveries for the auto maker continued to slump, compared with competitors, as December sales slid 2.0% on a daily selling rate basis from like-2009, Ward’s data shows. And while the Camry claims the title of top-selling passenger car in the U.S. for a ninth consecutive year, the marque’s lineup saw its lowest annual sales since 1994, Ward’s data shows.

“We’re coming off what was arguably the most challenging time in our 53-year history,” Don Esmond, senior vice president-automotive operations for TMSUSA, tells journalists in a conference call, referring to Toyota’s widely publicized recalls in early 2010.

“The common perception is Toyota has been reeling this year as a result of those recalls, but the final results include some accomplishments any company would be happy to report,” Esmond says, citing the Camry’s market leadership as well as Toyota’s No.1 retail brand status for 2010 and relatively small 8% fleet mix.

While sales of the Camry Hybrid took the worst hit in 2010, down 36.3% to 14,587 units, the non-hybrid Camry also lost volume, trailing like-2009 by 6.2% and closing out the year with 313,217 deliveries.

In 1994, the Camry, then a challenger to established midsize passenger cars such as the best-selling Ford Taurus, sold 321,979 units.

Toyota officials blame the Camry’s poor 2010 sales on its age, especially in light of newer competitors such as the Hyundai Sonata. The current-generation Camry went on sale in early 2006.

Toyota’s second-best-selling model, the Corolla compact sedan also took a hit in 2010, down 7.0%. The Matrix and Corolla posted Toyota’s biggest declines in December, with deliveries tumbling 55.1% and 31.6%, respectively.

Overall, 2010 was a year of falling passenger-car sales and rising light-truck demand for Toyota. The only Toyota cars in positive territory were the restyled Avalon large sedan, up 5.4%, and the Prius hybrid hatchback, with a 0.9% uptick. The subcompact Yaris continued to underwhelm, with sales trailing year-ago by 37.1%.

Toyota light-truck sales rose 12.0% for the year, 11.7% in December, alone, Ward’s data shows. As usual, Toyota’s biggest seller in the segment was the RAV4 cross/utility vehicle, which tallied 170,877 units, a 14.6% increase from 2009.

The Sienna minivan, redone for ’10, missed the 100,000-unit mark for the year by roughly 1,700 units, with 98,337 sold. However, that was a 17.0% increase from 2009.

The Tundra fullsize pickup truck also missed the 100,000-unit mark, by nearly 7,000 units. But, as with the Sienna, Tundra sales also posted a 2010 increase, up 17.5%.

The Scion brand 2010’s tally of 45,678 units was down 21.2% from 2009 and more than 100,000 units off the 156,485 sold in 2005. However, the next-generation tC sport coupe, launched in October, saw December sales soar 57.9%, for an 8.8% rise in total Scion deliveries for the month.

Lexus claims leadership in the luxury segment for an 11th straight year, up 6.9% to 229,329 as it beats competitor BMW AG, without sales of the Mini brand, by 9,000 units, Ward's data shows.

Lexus’ 2010 results mirrored Toyota’s by passenger cars taking a backseat to light trucks. Lexus car sales were nearly flat in 2010, up 0.3%. Most of the vehicles losing significant volume were hybrids. The Lexus ES and IS midsize sedans also were weak, with the ES up 0.3% and the IS down 10.4%.

The RX CUV remains Lexus’ best-selling model, with 80,678 RX 350s and 15,119 RX 450h hybrids delivered in 2010.

For 2010, Toyota is calling for the seasonally adjusted annual rate to come in at 11.5 million units. The auto maker sees slow and steady growth in 2011, with a predicted SAAR of 12.5 million units.

Toyota forecasts the 2012 SAAR to reach 13.7 million units, citing Generation Y’s full representation in the marketplace as a key reason, as well as the advanced age of many cars on the road.

Toyota’s 2011 will be busier than the relatively sleepy 2010 with more debuts scheduled, such as the Lexus CT 200h, Scion iQ and the expansion of the Prius lineup.

Details of the latter will be revealed next week during Toyota’s press conference at the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com