Holden Cruze used review | 2011-2013

1 May 2015
, CarsGuide

The speed with which the market dumped big cars for smaller ones caught Holden napping. 


In an attempt to catch up the company rushed to Korea and signed up for a bunch of Daewoo models that were ill equipped for the Australian market.

Those first cars, the Barina, Viva and Cruze had build issues, they weren’t very refined, and they weren’t tuned to Australian conditions.

In the case of the Cruze many of those issues were addressed in the Australian-built car, which came in two body styles, a sedan and a hatch, with four models, and the choice of two petrol engines and a turbo-diesel.

Those downsizing from a Commodore might have found the Cruze a little cramped

The CD was the entry model, with the CDX the next in line with a longer features list, and then there were the sports models, the SRi and SRi-V.

Those downsizing from a Commodore might have found the Cruze a little cramped, but given it was a smaller car it was quite roomy.

There was decent room in the cabin for front and back seat passengers. The sedan also had a good-sized boot, but the same couldn’t be said for the hatch, which had a smaller boot that was made even smaller if you optioned the full-sized spare wheel.

The 1.8-litre petrol base engine wasn’t the most exciting. It was competent enough, but there wasn’t much in reserve when needed for overtaking or climbing hills.

In contrast the 1.4-litre turbo, with similar power to the larger non-turbo engine but 200Nm of torque was a relaxed driver whether in town or out on the open road. Not only did it perform well, but it also returned fuel economy numbers similar to the turbo-diesel engine.

The diesel was the best blend of performance and fuel efficiency of the lot, but it did bother some owners with its annoying turbo lag.

On the road the Cruze was poised on all road surfaces, its ride was comfortable, and its handling was agile and balanced.


Opinion is divided on whether the Cruze is a great car or a dud, there’s little middle ground if you believe owners.

The majority of the owners we talked to were happy with their cars and reported few troubles, although a couple did report serious issues that clearly soured their experience with the car.

A regular complaint is a lack of performance from the 1.8-litre engine. If you want more zip go for the 1.4-litre turbo or diesel, both are better.

There are also reports of engines surging, so watch for that on your test drive. It could be caused by a faulty fuel-injector, something that owners occasionally report.

When checking under the bonnet look around the engine for oil leaks, they’re quite common.

Opinion is divided on whether the Cruze is a great car or a dud

Turbo-diesels that mostly do short trips can have trouble with the diesel particulate filter. The filter needs regular runs of longer distance at higher than crawling speeds to burn off the carbon buildup. If it doesn’t get the chance to clean itself you’ll have to take it to a dealer to do it, and that costs.

Complaints about automatic transmissions crop up reasonably regularly. When test driving your prospective purchase look for erratic shifting, or searching for gears that doesn’t seem normal. The fix is a new transmission, not an inexpensive exercise.

There are plenty of reports of things that would appear to be due to variable build quality, like electrical problems, air-conditioning leaks, squeaks and rattles.

Reports of high brake wear seem common, with owners reporting complete brake replacements being needed from as low as 30,000km.

2min Insurance Quote Pricing & Specs


A good one is good, but a dud can be nightmare and you don’t know which you will get. Shop carefully.


Price new: $20,990 to $30,740
Engine: 1.8-litre 4-cyl, 104kW/176 Nm; 1.4-litre 4-cyl turbo, 103kW/200 Nm; 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo-diesel, 110kW/320 Nm
Transmission: 5-speed man, 6-speed auto, FWD
Economy: 7.0 L/100 km (1.8), 6.9 L/100 km (1.4T), 6.8 L/100 km (2.0TD)
Body: 4-door sedan, 5-door hatch
Variants: CD, CDX, SRi, SRVi-V
Safety: 5-star ANCAP

Expect to pay:
$9000 to $18,000 for the CD
$10,500 to $19,500 for the CDX
$10,500 to $18,500 for the SRi
$12,500 to $20,000 for the SRi-V


John Stephen: Two weeks ago, the emission warning light on my 2013 Cruze 1.4 turbo came on. My dealer diagnosed a problem with the transmission electronics; to fix it they had to replace the transmission. Otherwise it’s a great car. 

Mick and Annette Limbrick: We bought a Cruze SRi-V 1.4 turbo when they first came out, and we were so happy with it that we bought one for our daughter. But we soon began to realize they weren’t as good as we first thought. I found ours badly underpowered, and our daughter’s had serious transmission troubles, and there were numerous recalls on both. We were so disappointed with them that we were looking to unload them after six months, and we eventually traded them in on other cars.

Michelle Fischer: I have had my 2013 Holden Cruze SRi-V 1.6 turbo manual for 21 months, and I absolutely love it. I love looking at it, I love driving it, and it hasn’t missed a beat.

John Bittner: My wife has a 2013 Holden Cruze CD 1.4 turbo, which performs exactly as I hoped it would with a powerful turbo motor and six-speed auto. The suspension is a little firm, but it corners and handles beautifully. On a recent road trip it returned 6.3 L/100 km. There are only two things I think it should have: a light for the ignition switch, and a footrest. I would happily buy another one.

Paul Armstrong: My 2011 Cruze SRi auto has done 40,000 km without any major concerns except the brakes having to be completely overhauled at about 30,000 km. The car is very good in all respects, except for the slight lag of the turbo in low gears. There is no footrest and the armrest can’t be secured after extending the top, and the lack of parking sensors is disappointing.

Norman Johnson: My wife and I have two cars, one a 2012 Holden Cruze SRi-V 1.4 auto. The Cruze has proved to be an excellent car – it is nippy and enjoyable to drive on the winding roads where we live. It has been reliable, economical, and inexpensive to service. The body and interior are of a good standard, and it has every desirable feature you could think of.

Graham Newman: My 2012 Cruze CDX 1.8 auto is the best car I’ve had. It’s easy to drive, around town and on the highway, it’s very economical doing both, and I find it fun to drive. Would I buy another one? You bet.


MAZDA6 – 2011-2013 - 4 stars.
Excellent all-rounder wins plaudits on most fronts, from reliability, build quality, comfort, performance and economy. Pay $12,500-$38,000.

VW JETTA – 2011-2013 - 4 stars.
Sweet driving car with lots going for it. But it’s European and that means high running and repair costs. Pay $11,000-$21,500.

SUBARU IMPREZA – 2011-2013 - 4 stars.
Once the standard bearer, the Impreza has been overtaken by rivals. Can still boast safety of all-wheel drive. Pay $11,500-$24,000.

Do you own a Toyota Camry? If so tell us what you think of it by sending your comments to Graham Smith at grah.smith@bigpond.com or Carsguide, PO Box 4245, Sydney, NSW, 2010.


Holden Cruze used review | 2011-2013

What we like

  • 1.4-litre turbo engine or diesel

What we don't

  • variable build quality