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Chery J11 review

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    It's an innocuous, compact SUV that fits in without ruffling feathers. Photo Gallery

Peter Barnwell road tests and reviews the Chery J11 SUV.

How much would you expect to pay for a new 2.0-litre petrol SUV-style vehicle about the same size as a Honda CRV? According to our pricing guide, this type of vehicle starts at around $26,000 plus on-roads. Not any more.

Chinese brand Chery has just launched its new five seater J11 model that is about the same size as the original Honda CRV (looks a bit like it too) for $19,990 drive away. That makes the recommended retail price (without on roads) around two grand less or roughly $18,000.

Even more impressive is the fact that the J11 is feature rich with goodies like leather trimmed upholstery, aircon', cruise control on the auto, power windows, remote central locking, decent audio, two air bags, ABS and 16-inch alloys all thrown in.

It also has a full size alloy spare mounted on the side hinged tailgate. Not bad.

This is the first Chery available here to be followed in a few weeks by a 1.3-litre small hatchback called the J1 at an attention getting $11,990 drive away, once again, fully equipped.

The J11 comes out of a relatively new factory in China and utilises technology refined by the world's major automakers. Chery is China's largest and most diverse independent vehicle manufacturer with five assembly lines, two engine plants, one transmission plant and combined production last year of 680,000 units.

The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, 16-valve, petrol engine is good for 102kW/182Nm output and drives the front wheels via a five-speed manual or optional ($2000) four-speed auto. Mindful that potential buyers might be nervous about committing to a totally new brand in this country, Chery offers a three year/100,000km warranty plus 24/7 roadside assist.

Chery is part of the Ateco Automotive Group which, among other things, distributes Ferrari and Maserati in this country as well as other Chinese brand Great Wall. Chery will be sold through a 45 dealer network, expected to rise significantly before the end of the year.

We had the first local drive of the J11 last week over a decent 120km route that included suburban, highway and freeway motoring. It was the four-speed automatic that would be preferable for mostly city driving. You can't miss the vehicle's familiar lines that are more than a bit similar to the first generation Honda CRV mixed with a touch of RAV4.

But don't criticise the Chinese for that -  just about every other carmaker on the plant is guilty of copying in some way. The interior has a familiar look too - generic Japanese/Korean is the best way to describe it, perhaps not quite to that standard.

The test vehicle had reasonable performance given its 1775kg bulk and seemed fuel efficient though we couldn't really check. Chery claims 8.9-litres/100km combined. It whizzes along the freeway easily at the speed limit exhibiting minimal noise or vibration and has a comfortable ride. It felt solid and had no squeaks or rattles even crossing driveways and on rough bitumen.

We took it for a squirt on a winding mountain road where it was much the same - uneventful and not that much different from the average Japanese or Korean compact SUV. The drive position was acceptable as was seat comfort and rear seat passengers have plenty of room. The load space is a decent size with a low load height courtesy of the side hinged tailgate.

We opened the bonnet held up with twin gas struts. It looks fairly conventional there too. Our over-riding first impression of the J11 is positive. It's an innocuous, compact SUV that fits in without ruffling feathers. It could be any number of similar vehicles from other manufacturers, except the J11 is many thousands of dollars less and better equipped.

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 21 comments

  • I would like to see Chery Company give contact details and be responsible for the cars they sell in Australia. Word by mouth is a great tool to use.

    Margaret Dixson of Rockhampton Posted on 10 March 2014 12:46pm
  • I bought a Chery J11 and the following issues are stilling continuing as the dealers just won’t listen and Chery/dealers don’t follow up with the customer to ensure they are happy.

    I too have squeely brakes also the brakes seem to crunch when pulling up to stop. The car has been to Bundaberg dealers, Laurence Motors dealers in Rockhampton to no avail. I still have the problem.
    I think they are hoping you will just disappear!!!

    Margaret Dixson of Rockhampton Posted on 10 March 2014 12:44pm
  • I have had my J11 for almost 2 years, nothing but disgusted with it, 6 rear door rubbers, 4 drivers side sunvisors and now looks like a timing belt tensioner!!! Not to mention having to top up the brake fluid every few weeks. Squeely brakes in reverse, broken roof rails and badly faded drivers side mirror panel. The seats are all puckered up and look terrible. Chery Motors are impossible to deal with, they have no tech-Services department for anyone calling for advice. Every warranty claim they insist on dealer taking photos and emailing to them as if they dont trust their own dealers! I would not recommend this car to anyone. Cheap but VERY nasty

    kerrie Posted on 17 February 2014 5:20pm
  • We have owned a J11 Chery for 2 years and have to say we are nothing but impressed with this vehicle. We have owned Japanese & European vehicles and this has certainly been an improvement on these. We are aware that other owners have had issues but this happens with all models & makes. The Servicing has been first class and the vehicle has now done in excess of 22000km without problem. We use it constantly around town and have had it away on lengthy trips,through forest/logging truck roads and it has performed beautifully and is miserly on the fuel consumption. This is Good Value for money and we will continue to trade up to the next new model when available.

    David & Jan Waugh of Auckland, New Zealand Posted on 15 January 2014 8:48am
  • We have bought a j11 and had nothing but problems. Chery aust has never had the courtesy to contact us even after 70+ emails. The car has been back for the issues weeks at a time. It took 18 months to fix a recall item and most items have not yet been fixed. We even had a safety check done at our expense and they informed us to take the vehicle off the road! And once again chery aust say we will get back to you. And shock horror no response. Therefore I would most defiantly NOT recommend anyone buy a j11..

    Peter Harris of Queensland Posted on 10 January 2014 10:57pm
  • I bought a auto Chery J11 new from Pembers at Albion Park 3 months ago (end June 13). I ran it in ( now 7300k’s ) up and down a bugger of a pass road from the coast to the highlands. I have forgotten how many cars I have owned, ( in 53yrs ). My ears, hands and bum tell me how well a car is going by sheer experience. I drive Merc Vito’s, Sprinters, Commodores, and Toyotas during the day, Home to work to Home is a 12hr day, but I still enjoy the 70km trip home in the Chery, 8.8lt / 100ks, yes I buy Cheap, but I have had some lemons too.
    Regards Bob b   12oct13

    Bob Bennett of illawarra NSW Posted on 12 October 2013 5:17pm
  • The auto industry including motorcycles is about to be stood on its head by the Chinese as did the Japanese did in the 60s and 70s. Don’t stick your head in the sand and miss the wave of cheap motoring because once the Chinese have become established the boat would of sailed on getting a Chinese vehicle at an extraordinary cheap price.

    Peter c Posted on 03 October 2013 1:30pm
  • at last a fix, thanks chery and thanks macarthur chery ,

    keith edward fagan of bargo nsw Posted on 20 July 2013 4:09pm
  • i still maintain this car was a good buy for the money but the two irratating faults mentioned previously,brake squeal in reverse,and a very audible handbrake cable creak& no fix known to chery is a joke.please ,if anyone has had similiar problems & found a fix enlighten us ,it would be appreciated . thanks.

    keith edward fagan of bargo nsw Posted on 30 May 2013 6:44pm
  • this a good car 4 the price tag,but 2 minor faults are being ignored by either chery or its importers ateco.1`,brake squeal in reverse ,2,handbrake creak,quiet audible when u engage handbrake & alight from the vehicle. any emails 2 chery as usual are ignored.any mechanics i discuss this with say its easily fixed, until i mention the cars make,they wont touch it.honestly ateco couldnt market a flu shot in a flu epidemic.a real good bargain priced car could turn to be an expensive lemon.to treat aussie consumers like their chinese countrparts will spell the end 4 chery in this country,i should take the 4oo bucks tradein & wear the dickhead brand,thanks chery & thanks ateco.

    keith edward fagan of bargo nsw Posted on 04 May 2013 7:03pm
  • Purchased my J11 auto December 2012.Done 6k.
    It’s no Rav4, but for the money, we are very pleased.
    Two issues, D/side mirror & bonnet catch replaced, no worries.
    Faulty parts can be an issue with any make!
    When using cruise control, found the trip tronic shift for extra revs a bonus, & doesn’t cancel the cruise.
    When you look at all the standard inclusions, nothing comes close.
    Best deal in Sydney by $3k from Clintons Chery at Cambelltown
    NSW.
    Currently returning overall 12 to13 k’s per litre of fuel.
    You won’t win the drags off from the lights, but driven to it’s capabilities you should have a good SUV for some years!

    Gaz Perriott of Laurieton NSW Posted on 15 April 2013 9:11am
  • Under Warranty so far…

    Within the first 5000km both rear brake disks were worn beyond safe measure.

    A front wheel stud snapped.
    Then the CD unit failed to work.

    Following this, the exhaust pipe header weld broke.

    Factory safety recall on the drivers seat, which involved insertion of a metal bar across the middle of the seat, causing constant jarring and extreme discomfort. When I complained, I was told it was a legal responsibility and that nothing more could be done.

    The weld on the bracket holding the exhaust under the rear passenger door gave way.

    SECOND factory safety recall regarding asbestos being used in the exhaust manufacture.

    Internal manufacturing fault in the transmission, requiring another two weeks of repair again.

    Wiring loom was shorting,

    Broken engine mount.

    Failed front shock absorbers.

    All by 80,000km. At just shy of two years old.

    Was just offered $4,000 as a trade in.

    Oh BTW, under normal servicing, timing belts are required to be changed every 40,000km.

    DO NOT TOUCH THESE LEMONS WITH A BARGE POLE!

    Rob Pellew of Dulwich Hill, NSW. Posted on 25 January 2013 2:52pm
  • Is the lack of EST an issue?
    Plenty reckon it is an issue.
    Wondering what an owner thinks?

    marx 4 cars Posted on 23 November 2012 9:17pm
  • good car for the price. has not fallen apart yet . had for 1yr and 11000klm so far so good.

    keith edward fagan of bargo nsw Posted on 11 November 2012 1:22pm
  • last tuesday was coming home from work.  and coming to a roundabout it went down in gear, upon going round the roundabout i took off to find out i had no power, i had to pull over to see what was wrong. i travelled 19k all the way home ( considering it normally takes me 10 to 15 mins to get home ) it took me nearly half a hour. then finally i get home i ring the mechanic for him to tell me that just turn the car off and restart it. it needs to reboot like a computer. well that happened on a tuesday and today ( which is sunday ) it has happened again, so i did what the mechanic said, but it didnt change anything. so now it has been towed to see what is happening… not happy as i have only had it for just ova a year now.

    sue of adelaide sa Posted on 04 November 2012 9:53pm
  • I’ve owned a Chery J11 (manual) for the last year and I’m surprised by many of the comments here.  The car is great value for money, good on fuel, cheap to insure and drives pretty darn well.  Of course it doesn’t compare to the quality of German or Japanese manufacturers but at the end of the day you get what you pay for.  If you choose to save $10-20k by buying the cheapest SUV on the market, you still get yourself a new SUV with the back-up of a dealer warranty.  I haven’t had any issues with my vehicle and my wife is thrilled with it.

    James of Sydney Posted on 04 October 2012 12:48pm
  • I’d like to know if Peter Barnwell actually drove a J11, I’ve had mine just over a year, two recalls, one for seat rails, one for ASPESTOS break linings… it took 6 MONTHS to convince the dealership there was a viberation in the dash,,I finally convinced them with a video of it..they had the car 8 times, for a full day each time, and told me there was no noise.. Four times back to dealership just for an OIL filter that continues to leak.. the car has so many noises it drives me insane.. and the worst part, the service manager said he was happy with the car… him, happy with my car… what a bloody joke…the front passenger seat rattles, the dash rattles, the doors dont close properly, the inside is not finished properly…. shit car…

    Sue Hill of TWEED HEADS Posted on 27 September 2012 8:42pm
  • Careful about posting golden reviews for everything. We use your site to choose a vehicle and when you talk so highly of a vehicle we all know is not going to be great it makes us think twice about trusting any other reviews because your test drivers obviously lack discernment and conviction to call it how it is.

    Rob Posted on 30 August 2012 5:44pm
  • I do not suggest for anyone to buy this car. I have had mine for just under a year. In this time I have had the power steering pump replaced 3 times due to it being faulty. The car has been in to the store roughly every 2 months to be looked at. I take the car in to have what everyone but chery says is full engine cut out. You drive the car and all power cuts out then will start up again. I have been asked a few times now is the car stalling and my answer is NO. I have taken my car to another mechanic and it happened to him but every time chery so call drive it to see if it happens it never does. Now my new issue is I had a car accident 2 weeks ago the car got towed away and it is sitting in the car yard waiting to be fixed as chery can not work out what part they need to fix it. Photos have been sent overseas and there has been no response. What in any other car would be fixed in a week it’s going into 2 weeks and still waiting. When I have the accident the fuel line broke and the petrol tank emptied.

    sallyann bousfield of Central Coast NSW Posted on 02 June 2012 10:35pm
  • What I’m interested in is the post sales support:
    1) Maintenance and parts
    2) Insurance
    3) Dealerships

    Ka Kwok Posted on 06 February 2012 2:53pm
  • OMG - what is this review? Talk about talking it up. “Feature rich”!?? - all the ‘features’ you mentioned are absolutely stock standard on just about any car at this price range, maybe with the exception of leather trim, and who goes on about air-con and power windows these days? Nothing special here. Sorry but after reading that paragraph every other description you had of this car held no weight for me. “whizzes along the freeway easily”, “minimal noise or vibration” - seeing as you were talking up it’s features list I can’t take these other comments seriously either. If you must have an SUV then sure I guess, but otherwise just get a Civic.

    alex Posted on 06 December 2011 6:27pm
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