Best & Worst Audi A4 Years

We've taken a closer look at every Audi A4 from 1996 until the latest model and categorized the best & worst years in this guide.

In this guide, I’ll break down all Audi A4 generations, revealing Audi A4’s best years to buy and the worst Audi A4 years to avoid.

We’ve meticulously compiled data from reputable sources like NHTSA and Consumer Reports to ensure our insights are reliable and comprehensive.

Specifically, I’ll focus on each Audi A4 generation, analyzing different engine options, safety features, technological advancements, recalls, and common issues.

Let’s dive right in!

Related:Best & Worst Audi A3 Years

Table of ContentsShow

Audi A4 Generations

The Audi A4, a cornerstone of the luxury sedan market, first graced the automotive world in 1996. It was introduced as a successor to the Audi 80, setting new standards in its segment with a blend of performance, technology, and refined design.

The A4 quickly gained popularity for its build quality, comfort, and driving pleasure.

Here, I’ve compiled a table that categorizes the different Audi A4 generations.

1st Generation (B5)1996-2001
2nd Generation (B6)2002-2005
3rd Generation (B7)2006-2008
4th Generation (B8)2009-2016
5th Generation (B9)2017-Present

Each Audi A4 generation presents notable changes, particularly in design, technology, and performance, which is crucial for potential buyers and enthusiasts when choosing the best model year.

Audi A4 Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

When evaluating the Audi A4 across its generations, we consider various factors to determine the best, neutral, and worst years. These include:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • owner ratings

The upcoming graph combines ratings from all these sources, presenting a comprehensive view of the Audi A4’s performance over the years.

Audi A4 Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

Next, based on our extensive research, I present a table categorizing the model years of the Audi A4 into best, neutral, and worst years.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
1st Generation (B5)2001N/A1996
2nd Generation (B6)2005N/A2002
3rd Generation (B7)2008N/A2006
4th Generation (B8)2013
5th Generation (B9)2018

“Neutral Years” typically demonstrate average performance without significant flaws or exceptional strengths.

Factors such as NHTSA recalls can negatively impact a car’s reliability. A higher number of complaints and recalls usually indicates lower reliability for a vehicle.

Let’s dive into the Audi A4’s best, neutral, and worst years.

Best & Worst Years for Audi A4 1st Generation (1996-2001)

Audi A4 1st generation 1996 model
The 1996 Audi A4

The first-generation Audi A4, launched in 1996, was a pivotal model in the compact executive car market. Known as the B5 series, it replaced the Audi 80 and introduced a more contemporary design, enhanced driving dynamics, and an array of new technologies.

The earlier Audi A4 model years – 1996-2000, have several issues in various domains, while 2001 is highly regarded as the best Audi A4 year in this generation.

The Best Year: 2001

The 2001 Audi A4 model year stood out as the best year of the first generation.

It featured a choice of engines, including a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder engine providing a good balance of power and fuel efficiency and a 2.8L V6 offering more spirited performance.

The 2001 A4 also saw improvements in safety features, including advanced airbag systems and more robust ABS brakes.

Fuel efficiency for the 1.8L engine was around 20 city/29 highway mpg.

Despite some remaining problems, such as occasional ignition coil malfunctions and ABS module issues, the 2001 Audi A4 marked a significant improvement in reliability and overall refinement, making it a desirable choice for buyers.

The Worst Years: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000

Our research shows that the 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000 models of the first-generation Audi A4 were plagued with various issues, so it is wise to avoid them altogether.

The 1996 and 1997 Audi A4 models suffered from significant electrical system problems, including ignition switch malfunctions that led to several recalls.

These issues were accompanied by braking problems in wet conditions and steering issues, such as malfunctions in the steering box.

The 1997 Audi A4 was particularly notorious for timing belt failures.

The 1998 to 2000 Audi A4 models continued to experience ABS control module issues and timing belt tensioner problems.

These problems, coupled with the numerous recalls for issues ranging from brake booster failures to exterior lighting problems, marked these years as the least reliable.

See NHTSA 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 Audi A4 recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Audi A4 2nd Generation (2002-2005)

Audi A4 2nd generation 2002 model
The 2002 Audi A4

The second-generation Audi A4, the B6, debuted in 2002 and significantly evolved from its predecessor. It brought a fresh, more sophisticated exterior design, an upgraded interior, and advanced technology, positioning it firmly in the compact executive car segment.

Although the second generation of the Audi A4 is not regarded as the best, 2005 is reasonably a good choice, while you should avoid earlier 2002-2004 Audi A4 models.

The Best Year: 2005

Regarded as the Audi A4’s best year for the second generation, the 2005 model exemplified the culmination of improvements made throughout this generation.

It offered various engine options, including the popular 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder engine, known for its efficiency and performance, and the 3.0L V6 for those seeking more power.

The fuel efficiency of the 1.8L engine stood out, with an average of about 20 city/29 highway mpg.

The 2005 Audi A4 also featured interior technology and safety advancements, including an updated infotainment system and enhanced airbag systems.

While it had minor issues, such as flickering headlights, the overall reliability and performance improvements made the 2005 A4 standout in the second-generation lineup.

The Worst Years: 2002, 2003, 2004

The early years of the second-generation Audi A4, 2002, 2003, and 2004 encountered numerous power train issues, marking them as the worst years.

These models were prone to transmission control module malfunctions, particularly in CVT-equipped vehicles, reducing driving quality and reliability.

The 2002 and 2003 Audi A4 models also faced fuel pump failures that could result in engine stalling and headlight malfunctions.

The 2004 Audi A4 also introduced concerns with oil sludging, which led to internal engine damage and costly repairs.

Necessary recalls for these years cover fuel pump failures in vehicles with 1.8L Turbo, 2.8L V6, and 3.0L engines causing engine stalling.

The combination of these problems, particularly the transmission and fuel pump issues, makes the 2002-2004 Audi A4 models the.

See NHTSA 2002, 2003, 2004 Audi A4 recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Audi A4 3rd Generation (2006-2008)

Audi A4 3rd generation 2006 model
The 2006 Audi A4

The third generation of the Audi A4, designated as the B7, was introduced between 2006 and 2008. This generation was a significant update over the B6, featuring more modern styling, improved interior quality, and better overall performance.

2008 is Audi A4’s best year in this generation, while 2006 and 2007 are the Audi A4 years to avoid.

The Best Year: 2008

In its third generation, Audi A4’s best year was 2008.

This year’s A4 offered a variety of engine choices, including the efficient 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine, delivering a mix of performance and fuel economy, and the 3.2L V6 for those desiring more power.

The 2008 A4 also featured a high-quality interior with advanced technology and safety features, including improved airbag systems and enhanced stability control.

Fuel efficiency was a strong point for the 2.0L engine, with an average of around 21 city/30 highway.

The 2008 model year stood out for its increased reliability and refinement, addressing many of the issues present in earlier years of the third generation.

The Worst Years: 2006, 2007

According to the owner-reported complaints and recalls on NHTSA, the 2006 and 2007 models of the third-generation Audi A4 faced several significant issues.

These early B7 models were known for problems with the exterior lighting components, particularly with the new adaptive headlights, such as flickering and dimming.

The 2007 Audi A4 introduced new issues, including excessive oil consumption and leaks.

These issues were less pronounced in the 2008 model but still affected overall reliability and owner satisfaction.

See NHTSA 2006, 2007 Audi A4 recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Audi A4 4th Generation (2009-2016)

Audi A4 4th generation 2009 model
The 2009 Audi A4

The fourth generation of the Audi A4, known as the B8, spanned from 2009 to 2016. This era marked a significant redesign over previous generations, introducing a sleeker exterior, a more luxurious interior, and various technological advancements.

The second half of the generation, from 2013 to 2016, covers Audi A4’s best years, while models from 2009 to 2012 are the Audi A4 years to avoid altogether.

The Best Years: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

The post-facelift years of the fourth-generation Audi A4, particularly 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, are recognized as the best within this series.

These models featured refined engine options, including the popular 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine, known for its balance of power and fuel efficiency (with an estimated 24 city/31 highway mpg).

Additionally, the 3.0L V6 offered a more dynamic driving experience.

The interior of these models saw substantial improvements in quality and technological features. They came equipped with Audi’s advanced MMI infotainment system.

Safety features were also a strong point, with advancements in driver assistance technologies and improved crash-test ratings.

The 2013-2016 models stood out for their overall build quality, reliability, and the inclusion of luxury trim options, making them highly desirable in the used car market.

The Worst Years: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Conversely, the first half of the generation, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, are categorized as the worst Audi A4 years to avoid due to engine and steering issues.

The most notable problem was excessive oil consumption, particularly in the 2.0L turbocharged engine, leading to frequent maintenance needs and potential long-term engine damage.

These models also faced challenges with the power steering system, where owners reported a loss of power steering assist.

Safety recalls during this period included concerns related to auxiliary heater electrical connectors, which could melt, and coolant pump overheating, potentially leading to short circuits.

See NHTSA 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 Audi A4 recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Audi A4 5th Generation (2017-Present)

Audi A4 5th generation 2017 model
The 2017 Audi A4

The fifth generation of the Audi A4, designated as the B9, debuted in 2017 and is characterized by its cutting-edge technology, luxurious interior, and enhanced performance capabilities.

Due to the relatively high number of recalls, 2017 and 2020 are the worst Audi A4 years you should avoid, while 2018, 2019, and 2021-2024 are Audi A4’s best years in its fifth generation.

The Best Years: 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024

What year Audi A4 is most reliable? The Audi A4’s best years for its fifth generation are from 2018 onwards.

These models feature a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine, delivering a harmonious blend of power and efficiency, with an average fuel economy of around 27 city/37 highway mpg.

The A4 also offers a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, providing smooth and responsive shifting.

Regarding safety and technology, these models come equipped with Audi’s latest MMI infotainment system, offering intuitive controls and connectivity.

Advanced safety features include adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and a comprehensive suite of airbags, contributing to high safety ratings.

The interior quality is top-notch, with various trim levels offering luxury amenities such as leather upholstery, heated seats, and customizable ambient lighting.

The Worst Years: 2017, 2020

The 2017 and 2020 model years of the Audi A4 B9 series experienced some notable issues.

The 2017 Audi A4 was particularly affected by coolant leaks from the water pump and thermostat housing, leading to recalls. This model year also faced recalls concerning side marker lights that might not illuminate properly and issues with disabled passenger airbags.

The 2020 Audi A4 continued to face challenges, including recalls related to misaligned rear axles, rear axle lock nuts that might break, and disabled passenger airbags.

Another significant concern for the 2020 model was the recall of inoperative rearview displays.

These issues, especially related to safety and cooling systems, made the 2017 and 2020 models less favorable compared to other years in the fifth-generation Audi A4 lineup.

See NHTSA 2017, 2020 Audi A4 recalls and complaints.

Audi A4 Resale Values

This graph illustrates the average resale values of the Audi A4 across its various generations.

Audi A4 Average List Price


It’s clear that the later years in each generation, especially 2013-2016 in the fourth generation and 2018 onwards in the fifth, are Audi A4’s best years. Conversely, 1996-2000, 2002-2004, 2006, 2007, and 2009-2012 Audi A4 model years are advisable to avoid.

Which generation of Audi A4 do you find most appealing, and why?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.