Toyota sold 2.236 million vehicles in 2013, up 7.4% from 2012 and the Japanese automaker’s highest tally since 2008’s 2.217 million, WardsAuto data shows.

In December, Toyota delivered 190,843 units, an increase of 2.2% on a daily basis. December results for all automakers included sales in the first two days of January.

Last month, continued strong sales of the Avalon large sedan and gasoline-engine-only Camry midsize sedan offset declines at all other Toyota-brand car lines. The Yaris subcompact plunged 68.7%, Corolla sales fell 3.7% and Prius liftback and V wagon sales were down 19.7%.

Toyota light trucks rose 6.8% last month, but only a third of the lineup was up over December 2012.

The Highlander, Land Cruiser and Tundra notched December gains, but the RAV4 midsize CUV shone the brightest, with its gas-engine variant up 52.3%.

The RAV4 once again was Toyota’s best-selling light truck in a calendar year, although with a much healthier volume than ever before. Toyota sold 27.0% more RAVs in 2013 than in 2012, delivering 218,249 copies of the CUV, including 1,096 RAV4 EVs.

Also repeating as a best-seller was Toyota’s Camry. Despite a scant 0.9% increase from 2012’s 404,886 deliveries, the midsize sedan held onto the title of the No.1-selling passenger car in the U.S. with its 408,484-unit volume.

Prius sales for 2013 tallied 234,228 units but only the Prius C compact hybrid posted a gain from year-ago, up 17.5%. Sales of the liftback and V wagon fell 4.3% in 2013 and the plug-in hybrid model slipped 5.2%.

Bill Fay, group vice president-Toyota Div., blames the Prius falloff on one less sales day than year-ago, adding the automaker was only 2,400 units shy of 2012’s 236,000-unit total.

“We missed (last year’s number) by probably a day of sales or half a day of sales,” he tells media today during a conference call.

After some lower-volume years, Toyota’s Lexus luxury brand returned to form, selling 273,847 vehicles in 2013, up from 244,166 in 2012 and 198,552 in 2011.

Cars did better than light trucks for Lexus in December, as strong gains were seen for the IS lineup, up 125.5% from year-ago.

A surprise was the CT 200h hybrid, which after months of declines registered a 16.3% increase as Lexus sold down the current generation in anticipation of the new ’15 model.

The 12.9% gain in Lexus’ light-truck lineup could be credited to the LX and GX SUVs, up 42.1% and 35.3%, respectively.

However, the RX 350 CUV remained Lexus’ best-seller for the year, rising 11.4% from 2012 to 92,613 units. The RX 450h racked up an additional 11,307 deliveries in 2013.

The Lexus ES repeated as the luxury brand’s best-selling car, with 72,581 units sold, including 16,562 ES 300h hybrid sedans.

With more months in the red than black, Scion sales predictably declined in 2013, down 7.1% to 68,321.

The December drop of 18.6% was the brand’s ninth monthly falloff in 2013, as all models but the xD, up 1.7%, slipped below year-ago.

The FR-S sports car was the only Scion in positive territory in 2013, up 60.5%. However, its 18,327 deliveries fell shy of the 20,000-unit target.

For 2014, Toyota is pegging U.S. light-vehicle sales at 16.0 million units, below the 16.3 million WardsAuto and other analysts project.

Toyota in the U.S. expects to sell at least 2.3 million units and plans to launch 10 new or significantly updated models this year, including a next-generation Highlander and all-new Lexus RC coupe that is due next fall.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com