Fiat Chrysler Automobiles eked out a 1.1% U.S. sales gain in May, compared to a year earlier, as strong sales of vans, pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles offset steep declines in car sales.

Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds.com had projected Fiat Chrysler sales declines of 2.1% and less than 0.1%, respectively, while TrueCar projected an increase of 1.2%. U.S. auto sales remain at near-record high levels.

Discounts helped pave the way to the increase, according to TrueCar, which said Fiat Chrysler incentives rose 19.8% in May, compared to the same period a year ago. The industry average increase was 7.1%.

Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep brand continued its strong momentum with a sales increase of 14% to 90,545 units. The brand’s new compact crossover, the Renegade, flourished with sales of 10,868 units in its first full year on the market.

The Ram brand was flat, selling 43,613 units, including strong increases for the brand’s vans. The Ram pickup truck — Fiat Chrysler’s most popular vehicle — fell 3% to 38,333.

The company’s car-heavy brands continued to slump as low gasoline prices sent customers flocking to bigger vehicles. The Dodge brand fell 5% to 42,837 vehicles, while the Chrysler brand fell 19% to 24,276 and Fiat declined 19% to 3,137.

In one encouraging sign for the Chrysler brand, the company said the new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan is showing promising signs in its early days on the showroom floor. The company sold 2,495 units of the Pacifica in May, up from 487 in its first month on sale in April.

After a strong start to the year, industry analysts projected declines for most major manufacturers in May, compared to the same month a year ago, which had two more selling days.

“Notwithstanding a challenging calendar, we managed to muscle our way to our strongest May sales in over 10 years,” said Reid Bigland, senior vice president of sales for Fiat Chrysler in North America, in a statement.

Edmunds.com projected a 5.8% industry decline, while Kelley Blue Book foresaw a 6.2% decrease and TrueCar predicted a 4% fall.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.