One great car—or clunker—doesn’t define a whole brand. Neither does its reputation (good or bad) relieve you of the need to examine a vehicle carefully. But our long-standing and comprehensive analysis of car brands reveals that you can glean important information by knowing a brand’s output over time.

To determine which car brands consistently deliver vehicles that serve consumers well, we tabulate the overall score, road-test score, and predicted reliability results for each tested model of a brand. We then average those scores at the brand level. This average overall score is used to rank the car brands as an indicator of who makes the best cars. Topping our Ratings are the luxury brand Audi and mainstream marque Subaru. Only vehicles that are on the market and that we tested factor into the equation. The rankings don’t account for corporate practices or brand perceptions.

Hence, Audi and Volkswagen diesel vehicles that have been pulled from dealerships—following their recall and stop-sale last year for cheating on EPA emissions tests—are not included in our car brands scoring. Consumer Reports strongly believes that Volkswagen AG, the maker of VW and Audi vehicles, should be held accountable for manipulating emissions testing with its vehicles.

In creating the car brands Report Card, we aggregate road-test performance, reliability, safety performance and active safety aids, and owner satisfaction. Brands with a lineup of mature, incrementally updated vehicles tended to rise to the top.

For instance, Toyota’s middling road-test score was balanced by strong reliability; Mercedes-Benz’s strong road tests were offset by below par reliability. And Honda, Nissan, and Chrysler suffered due to problematic new transmissions.

Note that car brands must have at least two models with test and reliability data to be included. Alfa Romeo, Jaguar, Maserati, Ram, Smart, and Tesla lack sufficient data. (Download a PDF of this car-brand information.)

RankMakeOverall ScoreRoad-Test ScorePredicted Reliability% of Test Models That Are Recommended
1

Audi

8083Better Than Average100%
2Subaru7880Better Than Average100%
3Lexus7674Best88%
4Porsche7684Average60%
5

BMW

7685Average50%
6Mazda7474Better Than Average100%
7Buick7476Better Than Average80%
8Toyota7269Best62%
9Kia7275Better Than Average67%
10Honda7173Average88%
11Hyundai7076Average60%
12Volvo6977Average25%
13Mini6871Average50%
14Mercedes-Benz6780Worse Than Average29%
15Volkswagen6776Average71%
16

Ford

6674Average38%
17Lincoln6573Average25%
18Scion6562Better Than Average75%
19Acura6473Worse Than Average40%
20Chevrolet6475Worse Than Average27%
21Nissan6371Average33%
22Infiniti6376Worse Than Average20%
23

GMC

6071Worse Than Average17%
24Cadillac5876Worst25%
25Dodge5873Worse Than Average17%
26Chrysler5873Worse Than Average0%
27Land Rover5571Worst0%
28Mitsubishi5146Average0%
29Jeep4355Worst0%
30

Fiat

3852Worst0%

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the April 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.