In the lead up to 2010’s  year end, sales of the major luxury marques in the U.S. were for the first time in years nearly neck and neck.

As recently as October 2010, in fact, Mercedes-Benz was the overall sales leader in the luxury vehicle market, thanks mostly to a surge in sales of its E-Class sedan.

In the end, however, perennial leader Lexus managed to come out on top, selling some 229,329 vehicles overall in 2010. This represented a 6.2 percent increase in sales over 2009, a decent result considering the automaker’s tumultuous year in the press and the lingering effects of the recent economic crisis.  

In second place was BMW, which sold 220,113 vehicles for the year, an increase of 16 percent compared with 2009’s levels. Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, managed to move 216,448 vehicles in 2010, an improvement of 14 percent over the previous year.

The big surprises, however, were Audi and Cadillac. While never in contention of achieving the top sales position in the U.S., Audi managed to sell a record number of vehicles last year, passing the 101,629 mark and easily beating its previous record of 93,506 vehicles.

Cadillac, too, had a successful 2010, with its sales rising by 35 percent in the year to end at 146,925 vehicles.

[Bloomberg]