Honda Civic’s February sales followed the same upward trend as U.S. gasoline prices.

The Civic accounted for a hefty 27,087 deliveries, up 18.8% on a daily sales-rate rate basis from January.

The Civic seemed to be the primary beneficiary of an apparent swing toward small cars as average pump prices set a new record high for the month – $3.74, according to the American Automobile Assn.

But healthier inventories also might have influenced buyer behavior. Honda and Toyota pipelines now are returning to normal levels after their manufacturing networks were slammed by the earthquake and tsunami that ripped Japan last March.

Honda later was hit by historic floods that disrupted its supply chain in Thailand.

The Civic’s February sales total was its highest since March 2011, and the car’s best monthly result since the new generation went on sale late last spring, according to WardsAuto data.

The Ford Focus finished second to the Civic with 23,350 deliveries, a gain of 55.7% from January’s 14,400.

The Toyota Corolla, the small-car segment runner-up in January sales, fell to No.3 with an 18.2% hike in February deliveries, compared with prior-month. However, its tally slipped 13.4% from like-2011.

The Chevorlet Cruze claimed the fourth spot with 20,427 sales, a 30.3% surge from January.

The Hyundai Elantra finished fifth with 13,820 deliveries, up from 12,289 prior-month.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com