DETROIT — Cars outsold the top-selling Ford F-series truck in May for the first time since 1992, a sign of the rapid shift in customers' preferences from trucks and SUVs to small cars that is forcing painful production cuts and plant closures at General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co.

GM said Tuesday its U.S. sales fell 28 percent in May compared with a year earlier, while Ford's sales fell 16 percent, Chrysler LLC's sales were down 25 percent and Toyota Motor Corp.'s sales slipped 4 percent.

Honda Motor Co., riding the wave of customers seeking better fuel efficiency, said its sales jumped 18 percent, led by a 36 percent increase in car sales. Nissan Motor Co. said its sales rose 8 percent, with a 19 percent increase in car sales.

The Toyota Corolla and Camry and Honda Civic and Accord sedans all outsold the F-series truck, which saw sales plummet 31 percent in May to 42,973. F-series trucks have been the best-selling trucks in the U.S. for 31 years and the best-selling vehicles overall for nearly as long. They also have been the best-selling vehicles each month since June 2005, when the Chevrolet Silverado pickup took a brief lead.

George Pipas, Ford's top U.S. sales analyst, said the last time a car topped the monthly sales charts was the Ford Taurus sedan in December 1992.

"May was a watershed month. We are, as an industry, catching up with the breathtaking choices customers are now making," Ford's sales chief Jim Farley said in a conference call with media and analysts.