For the first time ever, trucks outsold cars in the United States last year. Based on figures released Jan. 6 by the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), light trucks, including pickups, sport utility vehicles and minivans, outsold passenger cars by 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent - or slightly more than 276,000 vehicles. The top-selling vehicle in the county was a truck - the Ford F-series pickup. The second and third best sellers were also trucks, the Chevrolet Silverado pickup and the Ford Explorer, respectively. Other trucks on the top 10 list include the Dodge Ram pickup, seventh; and the Ford Ranger pickup, in ninth place. Paul Taylor, chief economist with NADA, said trucks have become so much like cars that their roles are interchangeable. "A lot of people buy pickups even though they only need to carry things in the back occasionally," he said. "The downside of that is that your friends call when they want to move." Taylor said the introduction of smaller SUVs, starting in 1997, has given truck sales a big boost. He said they are what people in the industry call "crossover utility vehicles or CUVs and they are extremely hot at this time." These are small versions of the sport utility vehicle which are built on a car platform. The category includes such vehicles as the Toyota RAV4, the Lexus RX300, and the Ford Escape. SUV sales, including CUVs, have risen constantly since 1989 and accounted for about 23 percent of the light vehicle market last year, according to Taylor.