The emissions scandal was a public relations nightmare for Audi and its parent company, Volkswagen AG. Despite the still-undetermined loss of brand loyalty the automaker suffered as a result, Audi's craftsmanship just received huge praise from Consumer Reports when the consumer watchdog group released its 2016 rankings of automotive brands.
Audi was Consumer Reports' top pick of the 30 best automakers, besting Lexus, Porsche, BMW and Subaru. And 2016 wasn't the only year Audi got things right, according to Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports director of automotive testing.
"We're seeing consistency over the last several years of Audi getting it right," says Fisher. "They're combining good reliability with good performing vehicles, and that's why they're on top.''
While Audi was honored as the best brand of the bunch, regulators are still investigating several of its vehicles, such as the Audi A3 (model years 2009 through 2015), for fabricated emissions tests. It was discovered last year that Volkswagen used sophisticated defeat devices in vehicles from several of its brands.
That software throttling tuned the vehicles to run well within the Environmental Protection Agency's emissions standards while the automobiles were being tested, covering up the fact that they'd emit up to 40 times the acceptable amount of nitrogen oxides when not under the microscope of an emissions test.
The top honors should be a huge help for the Audi brand, said David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research. Despite taking a hit, "Audi hasn't borne the brunt of what happened," Cole said.
While the the rankings may help Audi, it could bruise a few other brands such as brands in Fiat Chrysler's fold. Here's how Consumer Reports ranked the entire field of 30 with the brands' overall score:
1. Audi (80); 2. Subaru (78); 3. Lexus (76); 4. Porsche (76); 5. BMW (76); 6. Mazda (74); 7. Buick (74); 8. Toyota (72); 9. Kia (72); 10. Honda (71); 11. Hyundai (70); 12. Volvo (69); 13. Mini (68); 14. Mercedes-Benz (67); 15. Volkswagen (67); 16. Ford (66); 17. Lincoln (65); 18. Scion (65); 19. Acura (64); 20. Chevrolet (64); 21. Nissan (63); 22. Infiniti (63); 23. GMC (60); 24. Cadillac (58); 25. Dodge (58); 26. Chrysler (58); 27. Land Rover (55); 28. Mitsubishi (51); 29. Jeep (43); 30. Fiat (38).