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February 23, 2016 - 12:45 pm ET
Audi, in the midst of a scandal over parent company Volkswagen AG’s diesel engines, took the top spot in Consumer Reports’ latest annual report card on brand reliability and performance.
Audi, which finished with a score of 80, overtook Lexus, which dropped to third place after finishing first the previous three years. Subaru finished second with 78 points and supplanted Mazda as the highest-ranked non-luxury brand.
The influential magazine, which has compiled its brand report card for nine consecutive years, said Audi and VW vehicles that have been pulled from dealerships due to diesel emissions violations are not included in scoring. The VW brand finished 15th for the second straight year with 67 points, up from 60 points in 2015.
“The rankings do not account for corporate practices or brand perceptions, and despite Audi’s score, Consumer Reports strongly believes that Volkswagen AG … should be held accountable for manipulating emissions testing with its vehicles,” the publication said in a statement.
Consumer Reports compiles the overall brand scores using road-test performance for models it tested, in addition to reliability results for each model. It then averages the scores of those models to rank each brand.
Several brands were not included in this year’s results, including Alfa Romeo, Jaguar, Maserati, Ram, Smart and Tesla, since Consumer Reports tested fewer than two vehicles from each brand.
The magazine said it also changed the way it calculated 2016 scores, negating easy comparisons to results in 2015 and previous years.
Nine of the 10 top brands are foreign, with General Motors’ Buick brand the top domestic brand, in 7th place with an overall score of 74 points.
Most domestic brands from GM and Ford Motor Co. -- dogged by what the magazine called “inconsistent reliability scores” -- finished in the middle of the pack.
Fiat Chrysler brands finished near the bottom of the rankings. Two of its brands, Fiat and Jeep, finished in the bottom two spots for the second consecutive year, while Chrysler finished 26th out of 30 with 58 points and Dodge finished 25th also with 58 points.
“We respect Consumer Reports’ opinion, as they’re one of the many third-party evaluators we receive comments from,” said Matt Liddane, FCA North America vice president of quality, in a statement. “We encourage customers to experience our vehicles for themselves. We continue to aggressively pursue both product and launch-quality improvements as they are top priorities for the company and our internal measurements are showing progress.”
Fiat finished last with 38 points, while Jeep was 29th with 43 points.
German luxury brands Porsche and BMW finished in the top five, while Mazda, Toyota, Kia and Honda finished in the top 10. Mazda fell from second to sixth, while Toyota fell from third to eighth.
Each entry in the top 10 finished in the top 10 in 2015.
Acura, which finished No. 2 in 2014 and No. 11 in 2015, fell to 19th in the rankings with an overall score of 64. Infiniti finished 22nd with a 63 overall score after finishing No. 8 in 2014 and No. 17 in 2015.
The biggest year-over-year gains included Ford, which rose from 24th place to 16th and a 66 score, and Mercedes-Benz, which rose from 21st place to 14th and a 67 score.
Best in key segments
Consumer Reports also today revealed its latest top picks in key segments.
The redesigned Ford F-150 was named best pickup for the first time since 1999 and giving the brand its first top pick since 2012.
“By eschewing traditional steel body panels, Ford created a pickup that weighs less, enabling it to be quick off the line and fuel-efficient,” the magazine said.
The F-150 and the Chevrolet Impala, winner of the large car category for the second straight year, were the only winners among domestic brands.
The Toyota Camry won its fifth top pick in 20 years in the midsize car category, while the Toyota Sienna nabbed the top minivan honor from the Honda Odyssey.
Subaru also received two top picks, with the Impreza and Forester winning the compact car and small SUV categories for at least the third consecutive year.
The Kia Sorento was named top midsize SUV, replacing the Toyota Highlander, while the Lexus RX was given the top luxury SUV pick.
“Lexus created the luxury crossover segment almost 20 years ago, and its dominance hasn’t diminished since,” the magazine said.
The Mazda MX-5 was named top sports car, while the Honda Fit was selected top subcompact car.
Consumer Reports did not name a best overall vehicle, which was awarded to the Tesla Model S last year.
How they rank
Overall score* Average road test score % of recommended vehicles
Audi 80 83 100%
Subaru 78 80 100%
Lexus 76 74 88%
Porsche 76 84 60%
BMW 76 85 50%
Mazda 74 74 100%
Buick 74 76 80%
Toyota 72 69 82%
Kia 72 75 67%
Honda 71 73 88%
Hyundai 70 76 60%
Volvo 69 77 25%
Mini 68 71 50%
Mercedes-Benz 67 80 29%
Volkswagen 67 76 71%
Ford 66 74 38%
Lincoln 65 73 25%
Scion 65 62 75%
Acura 64 73 40%
Chevrolet 64 75 27%
Nissan 63 71 33%
Infiniti 63 71 33%
GMC 60 71 17%
Cadillac 58 76 25%
Dodge 58 73 17%
Chrysler 58 73 0%
Land Rover 55 71 0%
Mitsubishi 51 46 0%
Jeep 43 55 0%
* A brand must have at least two models with test and reliability data to be included. Alfa Romeo, Jaguar, Ram, Smart, and Tesla lack sufficient data.
Source: Consumer Reports