Getty Images

DETROIT (AP) — Americans have been heading to car dealers in droves in recent weeks -- encouraged by a resurgent economy, holiday sales and cheap gasoline.

Among the automakers reporting strong U.S. sales for December -- and for all of 2014 -- today are Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, Nissan, Honda and GM. Nissan and Honda hit record numbers for the year.

Ford faltered, but remained the top-selling brand in the U.S. last year.

Sales are expected to keep growing this year, but at a slower pace than the double-digit increases the country saw in 2011 and 2012. It's good news for buyers, who can expect to see bigger discounts in competitive segments like mid-size cars.

Leading the way in year-to-year sales numbers is Fiat Chrysler, with a 16 percent increase from 2013 to 2014. Sales of the Ram pickup were up 24 percent for the year.

In fact, pickup truck sales rebounded for nearly all automakers through 2014 as small businesses regained confidence and gas prices fell.

At GM, a 19 percent sales gain in December helped drive annual sales up by 5 percent.

Nissan and Honda reported U.S. sales gains in December, helping to push both Japanese automakers to record numbers for 2014.

The figures are signs that car and truck sales finished the year strongly. For all of 2014, analysts are predicting sales of 16.5 million vehicles, up 6 percent from last year and a return to pre-recession levels.

Nissan's sales grew 11 percent for the year to 1.39 million to set an annual record for the company. Nissan brand sales were up 12 percent for the year.

Honda says its sales rose 1 percent for the year to 1.54 million cars and trucks. That was enough to post the second-best results in company history and a record for the Honda brand.