The improved fuel economy of full-size pickup trucks, like Ford's F-Series, have pushed trucks to the top of the lists of new vehicle buyers recently.

It’s been one of the nation’s most popular models in recent years – in fact, topping the charts for two years running in the critical California market – but you might not know it from the April sales charts. The Toyota Prius just barely managed to make it into the Top 20 for the month.

And Prius wasn’t the only sign of a shift in the U.S. automotive marketplace, as shoppers seem to respond to relatively stable fuel prices by putting more attention on trucks – especially full-size pickups – and crossovers.

But don’t feel sorry for Toyota. The maker managed to plant three of its models among April’s 10 best-sellers, the original Prius hatchback making it four out of 20, according to an analysis of the month’s sales by tracking firm Autodata.

Large trucks have been gaining momentum for more than a year now, showing momentum even when fuel prices hit an all-time peak in many parts of the country during early 2013. A reviving economy has played a major role, truck buyers today largely looking for work vehicles, rather than the gas-guzzling playthings of the Urban Cowboy era.

The top selling vehicles in April were:

  1. Ford F-Series pickup
  2. Chevrolet Silverado pickup
  3. Toyota Camry sedan
  4. Ram pickup
  5. Honda Accord sedan and coupe
  6. Toyota Corolla compact
  7. Honda CR-V crossover
  8. Honda Civic sedan
  9. Ford Fusion sedan
  10. Nissan Altima sedan
  11. Ford Escape crossover
  12. Chevrolet Cruze
  13. Hyundai Sonata sedan
  14. Chevrolet Equinox crossover
  15. Hyundai Elantra sedan
  16. Chevrolet Malibu sedan
  17. Ford Focus sedan
  18. Honda RAV4 crossover
  19. Ford Explorer crossover
  20. Toyota Prius hybrid hatchback

It has helped, of course, that newer powertrain technologies have produced significant improvements in fuel economy. Ford, for example, now sells more V-6-powered F-150s than it does V-8 models, and the maker has intimated it will deliver even bigger mileage gains when it launches the aluminum-bodied remake of the F-150 for 2015.

The current model was well and away the nation’s best-selling vehicle in April, good news for a Ford that saw an overall decline of 1% in April sales. In fact, the maker noted that demand for both the F-Series and for the Ford Explorer SUV reached their highest levels in nearly a decade last month. Explorer came in 19th on the April sales chart. Ford also landed the ninth-ranked Fusion, and the 11th-ranked Escape.

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Its Focus model was in the 17th sales slot, but that was a slide from recent months, and it reflected a sharp 15.9% dip in year-over-year sales for the compact model.

The Prius suffered an even sharper, 18.5% decline in April. Hybrids, in general, have been losing momentum as consumers shift focus away from fuel prices and finding mileage-misers.

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That said, Toyota’s recently redesigned compact model, the Corolla, came in at sixth, but the bigger Camry – and Honda’s midsize Accord – were well ahead. Only three compact passenger cars, a group that included the Hyundai Elantra, made it into Autodata’s Top 20 last month.

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Meanwhile, the F-Series was followed closely by two other full-size pickups, the second-ranked Chevrolet Silverado and the fourth-ranked Ram.

The rest of the monthly top-seller list was largely dominated by midsize sedans, and a mix of midsize and compact crossovers.

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