Ford Motor’s U.S. sales ticked upward by 4% in April, compared to the same period a year earlier, as rising discounts and bigger vehicles gave dealers a boost. analysts had projected growth of 4%, while Kelley Blue Book had projected growth of 6%.

The automaker recorded 3% growth for its namesake Ford brand and 20% growth for the Lincoln luxury brand. Overall the company sold 231,316 vehicles.

The average Ford discount per vehicle rose by 24% in April, compared to a year earlier, to $3,423, according to TrueCar. That was the industry’s second-highest increase and outpaced the industry average of 13% growth to an average of $3,021.

On a positive note, though, average transaction prices rose $1,500 over a year ago, according to Ford.

“We saw strong consumer demand in April, especially for pickups,” said Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, in a statement. “F-Series has moved past the quarter million sales mark year to date – the strongest start for F-Series in a decade, while Ford brand SUVs are having their best year ever.”

Sales of crossovers and sport-utility vehicles remained strong with growth of 8%, while trucks and vans also maintained momentum with growth of 15%.

But sales of cars drifted down 12% as consumers flock to bigger vehicles amid low gasoline prices.

The subcompact Fiesta, for example, fell 25% to 4,462 vehicles. The Focus compact fell 12% to 15,983, and the Fusion mid-size sedan fell 17% to 20,730.

But the Explorer SUV rose 22% to 20,283, making it the automaker’s third most popular vehicle in April. A year earlier, it was No. 5.

Lincoln’s rise was an encouraging sign for Ford. The brand’s MKC, MKX, MKT and Navigator all posted double-digit increases.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.