Soaring U.S. gasoline prices did not discourage Ford customers from buying light trucks in February.

Sales of Ford pickups and utility vehicles jumped 9.4%, compared with like-2011, rivaling the auto maker’s 11.6% gain in car deliveries, according to WardsAuto data. Ford’s total light-vehicle sales surged 10%.

As expected, the auto maker recorded a milestone delivery total for its Focus C-car, which gets a peak combined city/highway fuel-economy rating of 33 mpg (7.1 L/100 km). But new high-efficiency engines kept consumers interested in light trucks.

“They’re not being forced into something” by high pump prices, Ken Czubay, Ford vice president- U.S. marketing, says today during a conference call.

The national average per-gallon price of regular-grade gas finished the month at $3.74, up 10.3%  year-over-year, according to the American Automobile Assn. But February’s average, $3.55, shattered the record for the month, $3.17, set last year.

Ford’s EcoBoost technology, which combines fuel-thrifty direct injection with performance-enhancing turbocharging, appears to have captured the imaginations of consumers in February. In F-Series fullsize pickups, EcoBoost powered 43% of the lineup’s retail-market deliveries last month.

New for ’12 in the Edge midsize cross/utility vehicle and the Explorer midsize SUV, EcoBoost penetration was 18% and 12%, respectively, Ford says.

For the F-Series, the technology comes in a 365-hp 3.5L V-6 with a peak combined fuel-economy rating of 18 mpg (13.1 L/100 km). Total F-Series sales surged 22.8% in February, compared with like-2011.

For the Edge and Explorer, EcoBoost is available in a 240-hp 2.0L I-4. Peak combined fuel-economy ratings are 24 mpg (9.8 L/100 km) for the Edge and 23 mpg (10.2 L/100 km) for the Explorer.

To meet rising demand for EcoBoost, Ford last week announced it would triple production of engines equipped with the technology.

February sales for the two utility vehicles were unspectacular. Edge deliveries were flat compared with like-2011, while Explorer’s 10,440-unit total tracked 3.8% ahead of prior-year. But the Explorer was the fastest-moving vehicle on dealer lots last month, Czubay says.

Against the backdrop of rising gas prices, the new-for-’12 Focus did not disappoint. Its 23,350 February sales represented the highest monthly tally since May 2008, excluding August 2009, when results were skewed by the U.S. government’s Cash-For-Clunkers market-stimulus rebates.

Mustang sales soared 90.9%, compared with like-2011. “The weather helped it,” Czubay says, referring to the mild winter that has greeted much of the U.S. this year.

Deliveries of the Ford Fiesta B-car plunged 15.5%, but the auto maker blames a weak year-over-year comparison and cannibalization by the Focus.

Lincoln showed signs of life with sales jumps of 2.2% and 9.4% in the car and truck segments, respectively.

Through 2012, Ford deliveries were tracking 11.6% ahead of like-2011.

emayne@wardsauto.com