Vehicle sales in Canada rose 5.7% year on year in 2012 to 1.68m, the second highest tally on record, lifted by demand for European imports and well priced Korean models.

Ford was the top-selling automaker in the country for the third consecutive year while Chrysler, which was third in 2011, overtook General Motors for second.

Analysts expect sales to continue to increase this year, nearing - or even exceeding - the record 1.7m set in 2002, due to remaining pent-up demand.

Ford sold 276,068 vehicles in Canada during 2012, just 90 more than in 2011, including over 100,000 F-Series which remained the best-selling vehicle line for the third year in a row.

Chrysler's sales rose 6% to 243,845, its best retail result since 2000, while General Motors slipped 6.6% to 226,825.

Although Detroit’s Big Three maintained their long-held lead in Canada, their share dipped to 44.5% from 47.2% in 2011 as sales of imported vehicles grew.

Toyota Canada said its sales rose 18.4% to 192,058 last year while combined Honda and Acura sales jumped 21% to 148,712. Honda's Civic retained its position as Canada's top-selling passenger car for a 15th year.

Hyundai and Kia both set new sales records in 2012 as did several European brands including BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Mini.