5 Best Audi A4 Model Years According to Consumer Reports

The Audi A4 debuted in 1995. It shared a platform with the Volkswagen Passat but boasted the trappings of a higher-end four-door sedan or station wagon. With decades of redesigns and upgrades, the A4 has become a popular option for used car buyers. In fact, Kelley Blue Book named it one of the 10 best used sedans under $30,000, and U.S. News ranks two A4 models among the top 10 used luxury small cars of 2022. 

So, which Audi A4 model years are the best of the best? Consumer Reports names five reliable used models to help narrow the field.

How reliable is a used Audi A4?

2015 Audi A4
2015 Audi A4 | Christopher Evans/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

The market abounds with used cars. However, before buying a used car, you should weigh a few key factors. One is reliability, considering some models could have tens of thousands of miles on the odometer.

Consumer Reports rates reliability on a scale from worse to better. For ease of understanding, worse is a 1, and better is a 5. CR analyzes 17 reliability points to calculate an overall rating. They include the following:

  • Engine (major, minor, and cooling)
  • Transmission (major and minor)
  • Drive system
  • Fuel system
  • Electric system
  • Climate system
  • Suspension
  • Brakes
  • Exhaust 
  • Paint/trim
  • Body integrity and hardware
  • Power equipment
  • In-car electronics 

Here are the Audi A4 model years Consumer Reports considers the best for reliability.

2015 Audi A4 reliability

The oldest of the models on this list is the 2015 Audi A4. It comes standard with all-wheel drive and a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 211 hp. Consumer Reports reviewers say it’s “nearly everything a compact sports sedan should be.”

The 2015 model earned a 4 on CR’s scale (one step below “better”) for overall reliability. Consumer Reports gave the most points possible to 10 of the 17 options. Engine minor and cooling, transmission major and minor, electric system, and brakes all received top marks.

The 2015 Audi A4’s suspension, engine major, and drive system received the lowest scores. According to a Consumer Reports subscriber survey, owners have seen trouble spots in the suspension, and one owner reported a turbo failure at 50,000 miles. In-car electronics also received a lower score, with owners reporting issues with Bluetooth connectivity.

2018 Audi A4 reliability

Three model years later, Audi gave the A4 a bump in power from the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine to 252 hp. The transmission was new, too. Additionally, gone was the eight-speed automatic, and in its place came a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

With those key changes, the 2018 Audi A4 scores similarly to the 2015 model, with a 4 on the scale (one below “better”). Top grades went to 11 areas, including the fuel system, transmission major, engine cooling, and in-car electronics.

The worst grade went to the brakes, which Consumer Reports gave a 3. Multiple owners reported rust — specifically on the rotors — causing vibrations that did not quickly wear off. 

2019 Audi A4 reliability

One year later, the A4 kept much of the same parts and systems. Consumer Reports gave top scores in 13 of the 17 categories, including engine and transmission categories, suspension, and fuel and electric systems.

As with the 2018 Audi A4, the 2019 model’s worst score comes with the brakes. This A4 gets a 2 on the scale, lower than the 2018 model. In addition, one owner reported leaks in the brake lines. Body integrity also got a 3 — owners mentioned squeaks, rattles, and loose or cracked seals.

Overall, CR still gave the 2019 model a “better” grade — the best score possible — thanks to all but four categories receiving top marks. 

2020 Audi A4 reliability

The peak reliability grade from 2019 goes down for the 2020 model. Despite most parts and systems remaining the same and 14 of the 17 categories receiving top grades, the overall score for the 2020 Audi A4 is a 4, one step below “better.” 

That’s thanks to three problem areas: the climate system, in-car electronics, and power equipment. The 2020 A4’s climate system and in-car electronics scored the lowest possible, with owners reporting trouble with both systems. The power equipment wasn’t as bad, with a CR ranking it 4 out of 5.

2022 Audi A4 reliability

2022 Audi A4
2022 Audi A4 | Audi

Last is the latest model, which sees only a few changes since the 2020 model year. Audi says the 2022 A4 now has Apple CarPlay, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, and a firmer suspension for the TFSI model.

Because the 2022 model hasn’t been out long enough to gather much data on owner-reported problems, Consumer Reports compiled a predicted reliability score based on the previous three model years. CR settled on a 4, counting the 2021 A4’s reliability score of a 3 on a scale of 5.

Though the climate system was improved from 2020, the 2021 Audi A4 gets the lowest score possible for in-car electronics and a 2 out of 5 for engine minor and electric system categories.

Given the recent track record, Consumer Reports ranks the 2022 Audi A4 third in its class for reliability, behind only the Infiniti Q50 and Acura TLX. The A4’s composite score of 77 far outpaces the Tesla Model 3, BMW 3 Series, and Lexus IS.

RELATED: The Worst Audi A4 Model Year You Should Never Buy