Audi, in the midst of a scandal over parent company Volkswagen Group’s diesel engines, took the top spot in Consumer Reports’ latest annual report card on brand reliability and road-test performance in the U.S.
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 in the 2016 report card 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.