Fiat Chrysler Automobiles posted an 8% U.S. sales gain in March, compared to a year earlier, as strong growth for crossovers and trucks offset declines in car sales.

The automaker sold 213,187 units in March. That included a 15% gain for the Jeep brand to 82,337, an 11% increase for the Dodge brand to 51,149 and an 11% increase for the Ram brand to 49,990.

Those brands benefited most from the industry-wide surge into bigger vehicles amid low gasoline prices that are dampening interest in small cars.

The car-focused Chrysler brand fell 13% to 26,236 units, while the Fiat car brand fell 24% to 3,422 as its long-running slump deepened. The company also sold 53 units of the Alfa 4C in the U.S.

Fiat Chrysler missed Kelley Blue Book expectations of 14% and Edmunds.com analyst expectations of 13%.

“Strong Jeep and Ram brand sales gave us a fast start to the important spring selling season and extended our year-over-year monthly sales gains to six full years,” said Reid Bigland, senior vice president of sales for FCA North America, in a statement. “As consumers continue to shift their buying preference towards utility vehicles and trucks, they are walking directly into the FCA wheelhouse.”

The company is getting a boost from the record-high rate of industry sales as well as heavy incentives. Fiat Chrysler spent an average of $3,887 per vehicle on discounts in March, up 13.7% from a year earlier, according to TrueCar. That was the second-largest amount of any mainstream automaker for the month, trailing only General Motors at $3,943.

The industry average was $3,005.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.