General Motors and Chrysler Group turn in solid sales results as the U.S. market recovery gains steam, with GM tallying its best July since pre-recession 2007 and Chrysler reporting seven vehicles set volume records in the month.

Total light-vehicle sales for GM, showing little sign of damage from its highly publicized recall campaigns, reached 256,160 units, up 5.2% from year-ago on a daily rate basis (one more day in 2014). However, the tally fell short of a mid-July WardsAuto forecast of nearly 269,000 units.

Trucks continue to be the big drivers for both Detroit-based automakers, with GM noting deliveries of its CUVs, SUVs, pickups and vans lead the industry, topping the 1 million mark for the year and posting a double-digit gain in July.

“Sales of utility vehicles soared in July, because American families feel better about the economy than they have in a long time, and they are finding an incredible variety of redesigned and all-new models in our showrooms,” Kurt McNeil, vice president-Sales Operations, says in a statement. “Small, compact, medium, large – sales were strong across the board.”

For the month, GM says it delivered 100,122 CUVs and SUVs, marking the best month for those models since August 2007. Pickup sales were relatively flat overall, though GMC Sierra daily sales rose 6.2%, and McNeil says GM expects the sector to be strong in the second half of the year.

The automaker notes its average transaction prices remained in line with June and were up more than $2,000 per unit from July 2013. Incentives rose 0.2 points from June, but GM calculates spending as 11.2% of ATP, said to be the lowest in the industry, according to J.D. Power.

Fleet sales accounted for 23% of the mix in July, down from the automaker’s 26% norm. Inventories totaled 737,731 units, equal to a 75-day supply, compared with 798,532 and 72 days at the end of June.

Among the brands GMC fared best with a healthy 17.5% gain, but Buick’s 3.7% jump gave it its best July since 2006. Chevrolet sales also rose (3.5%), but Cadillac deliveries declined (6.4%).

Chrysler’s volume of 166,955 light vehicles also came just shy of the WardsAuto forecast for the month, but still represents a strong 15.7% jump in its daily rate. Its 13.3% gain through the first seven months has added nearly a point of market share to the automaker’s ledger.

Chrysler models posting their best July volumes ever include the Jeep Wrangler (up 14%) and Compass (4%); Dodge Dart (23%), Challenger (1%) and Journey (10%); and Ram Cargo Van (13%), which will be phased out after the ’16 model year, giving way to new ProMaster City that bows in first-quarter 2015.

Posting its best month was the Fiat 500L, which delivered 1,436 units in its 13th month on the market.

Every Chrysler Group brand except Dodge and Fiat notched gains from year-ago in the month, led once again by Jeep (up 35.5% daily) and Ram (15.9%). Both continued the strong pace they’ve been on all year, with Jeep sales up 44.4% through July and Ram increasing 22.0%.

A nice boost in Town & Country minivan demand, up 35.6% daily, drove a 12.9% spike in Chrysler sales in July, though the brand remains off 10.5% year-to-date. Dodge dropped 1.3% on a disappointing showing from the Durango (down 10.0%), and Fiat sales fell 3.2%.

“Chrysler Group had a solid July as each brand recorded sales gains on our way to a 20% year-over-year increase, our strongest July sales in nine years,” U.S. sales head Reid Bigland says in a release.

dzoia@wardsauto.com