LA CROSSE, Wis. -

There's another big sign that the U.S. economy is back on the uptick. March auto sales were the highest they've been since 2007, before the economic collapse.

"We really started seeing a big trend in the middle of last year," said Tyler Dahl, general manager at Dahl Subaru Mazda & Hyundai in La Crosse.

That 4th Street location is coming off it's best month in a long while.

"We've had our best month of March since 2005. Our dealer group in general is about 10% over last year," said Dahl.

1.45 million vehicles were sold nationwide last month. Compare that to March of 2009, in the middle of the recession, when just 855,000 vehicles were sold.

"I think people have been waiting to buy and that's indicated by the older trade-ins that we're getting," said Dahl.

The downside to the surge is that automakers aren't offering as good of deals as they were when sales were slow.

"Anytime there's an increase in demand, the manufacturers will pull back a little on the incentives because they know there will be a buyer there," said Dahl.

"You know the price is going to go up. The only salvation is the competition," said Noel Sutherland, who's been searching for a new vehicle for several months.

After another test drive on Wednesday, Sutherland says he's getting close to picking out his new ride.

"It will actually be a relief if we can finally decide on one," he laughed.