Holden Cruze
(2009 - 2016)

  • Plenty available
  • Very affordable (to buy)
  • Good ride quality
  • Decent levels of performance
  • Horrendous reputation for reliability
  • Will require regular maintenance and most likely repair
  • Mundane styling and driving dynamics
  • So many more worthy alternatives
Overview

The providence of Holden Cruze, Holden’s last locally built small-segment family car, is both patchy and confusing. Firstly, it’s not to be confused with the pint-sized Suzuki Ignis-based 4×4 of the Noughties, despite having an identical name with identical spelling…

No, what kicked off as global GM vehicle arrived Down Under in 2009 as a Korean (Daewoo) sourced sedan, before being manufactured at Holden’s Adelaide plant, from 2011, in both four- and five-door-hatch guises. It was joined by a wagon version between 2012 and 2016, though this version arrived on the boat from Korea.

The (rebooted) Cruze arrived to supplant the unloved Opel-sourced AH Astra and woeful Viva. When local production ceased, in 2016, ‘our’ Cruze was replaced by a Euro-sourced ‘PJ’ Opel Astra hatch and Korean-made ‘BK’ sedan, both badged Astra, though the five-door would be sold as a Holden and as an Opel in the latter’s disastrously short-lived ‘blip’ in the local market. Not the best of days in the GM family, then…

With its Holden design DNA and quasi-Commodore styling, the initial, imported JG Cruzes offered a contemporary if conservative vibe with lot of space and decent equipment from little dough: the range kicked off at just $21k. Power came from a choice of a 104kW/176Nm 1.8-litre petrol four or essentially high-grade 2.0-litre turbodiesel good for 110kW/320Nm, either engine paired with a choice of five-speed manual or six-speed auto. All Cruzes are front drive.

The Korean JG Cruzes were all sedan, available in base CD or fruiter CDX trim levels, though all got cruise control, air con, six-airbag surety and solid enough safety credentials – for its time – to score a five-star ANCAP rating back in 2009.

The Cruze lifted its game when local manufacturing commenced in 2011, the generally improved JH ‘Series II’ range expanding with an Aussie-developed hatch version and a wider choice of improved powertrains and broader selection of variants.

Existing 1.8 petrols and 2.0 diesels were massaged – the oiler now 120kW/360Nm – but the range newcomer was a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol four good for 103kW/200Nm.

In the spirit of something for everyone, new variants surfaced in the fold, including price-busting (from sub-$20k) Equipe and fancy Z Series guises and couple of sport-spun versions in the SRi and SRi-V, both of which brought 132kW/230Nm 1.6-turbo motivation to the Cruze line-up in mid-2013 for MY14.

While reasonably friendly to drive, Cruzes of any variation fall a bit short of being genuinely fun to drive. Further, the earlier engine options are both gruff and somewhat underwhelming in urgency. Time hasn’t been terribly kind to Cruze’s particular cabin design spin, either. If you’re shopping for a solid attempt at upmarket motoring, best look elsewhere.

Though sedans and hatches were priced similarly at any given tier, it’s really the five-door liftback versions, with spacious boots offering easy load-through access, that make for the most practical and family friendly of the two body styles.

Unsurprisingly, the wagon offers superior 686-litre boot space expandable to nearly 1500L with the rear seats stowed, though these imports remained CD or CDX out of sync with the locally made sedan and hatch line-up, and the wagons weren’t offered with the more desirable turbo-petrol 1.4 or 1.6 engines. Still, not a bad option if you’re after pure utility on a budget…and preferably with the torquer and more frugal oiler.

Cruze depreciation is such that younger used examples in higher-grades make for a compelling entry point to contemporary motoring on a relative shoestring. The fresher Aussie-built stuff doesn’t carry a reputation for poor reliability the early imported versions do.

But how do they rate under the used car microscope? Read on to find out.

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What goes wrong
  • Let’s start with the exterior, first up there are reports that the door handles become harder and harder to use eventually breaking.
  • There are reports that the chrome trim is just flaking off.
  • The plastic shields in the wheel arches are known to split.
  • There are also reports that the lights can just come on randomly due to a faulty body control module.
  • There are reports that on cars with heated seats, the seats either stop heating immediately after they’ve been selected to heat, or they just refuse to heat at all.
  • Many owners have had issues with the buttons on the infotainment system being completely unresponsive, thanks to the radio’s control panel dying.
  • The air conditioning and heater system can either not cool or heat or at times will cool or heat when not requested.
  • Also smelly air-conditioners are a regularly reported problem.
  • The air conditioning evaporator behind the dash can leak and it can take many hours to repair or replace.
  • If the a/c is stinky or leaks cold water on your feet or it blows room temperature air on you with the ferocity of an asthmatic child, forget the car.
  • Also, the reversing camera screen can just glitch out and show a plain white screen.
  • Mechanically, everything goes wrong.
  • Coolant leaks, from every single component in the cooling system.
  • Intake manifold failures & vacuum leaks from everything connected to it.
  • PCV & valve cover problems.
  • Turbo problems & oil cooler leaks.
  • Actually, everything that’s attached to the engine, and everything inside the engine is problematic.
  • The electronics that control the engine are also very unreliable.
  • The automatic transmissions fail often and should your clutch fail in your manual transmission its eye-wateringly expensive to replace.
  • Servicing costs are reasonable but most people don’t bother because they hate them.
Model range, pricing & features

CD

  • Price when new: $20,990 - $29,790
  • Price used: $2,000 - $20,000

The CD is the base model of the Cruze, and was originally available with a choice of either a 1.8 litre 4-cylinder engine or a 2.0 litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel engine.

With the release of the JH series Cruze, a 1.6 litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol engine was made available.

The CD was available initially as a sedan, and then available as a hatchback and a Sportswagon.

The Cruze CD sought to differentiate itself from the competitors by offering more comfort and safety features as standard to increase the value proposition.

As part of the 2013 update, the CD model was axed and replaced by the Equipe model for the sedan and hatchback variants.

Features:

16-inch steel wheels
Body coloured door handles
Body coloured exterior mirrors
5-star ANCAP safety rating (tested 2009)
6 airbags: dual driver and front passenger, side impact and curtain airbags
Seatbelt height adjustment
Front Seatbelt pretensioners with load limiters
Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
Brake Assist (BA)
Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)
Traction Control
Central locking with emergency boot release
Flip keys
Auto on headlights with follow me home functionality
Driver’s information display with trip computer
Steering wheel height and adjust
Multi-functional steering wheel
Manual air conditioning
Electric mirrors – heated
Electric windows – front and rear with driver’s auto up/down
Cruise control
6-way adjustable driver and front passenger seats, recline, slide and height
6-speaker audio system
Radio and CD player
MP3 compatibility
USB input with iPOD compatibility
4x cup holders
60/40 rear seat split
12V power socket in front compartment

November 2011 Update:
Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity

Equipe

  • Price when new: $19,490 - $28,290
  • Price used: $5,500 - $18,900

The CDX is the top-of-the range model for the JG Cruze range when introduced in 2009, and featured an array of additional comfort and practicality features on top of the CD model.

As part of the 2011 JH (Series II) update, the CDX model became a premium mid-range model, alongside the SRi model, which was the sports-orientated model and SRi-V, which replaced the CDX as the top-of-the range model.

In May 2014, the CDX model was replaced by the Z-Series model,, but was brought back again for the 2015 JH.II Cruze, and then subsequently discounted for the 2016 Cruze range.

Adds:

17-inch alloy wheels
Front fog lamps
Rear parking sensors
Variable intermittent wipers
Electric windows, front and rear with express down for front and rear passengers
Leather wrapped steering wheel
Leather wrapped gear selector
Leather appointed seats
Heated front seats
Sunglasses holder
12V power socket in front and rear compartment

November 2011 Update:
Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity

July 2012 updates:
Single-zone climate control

April 2013 updates:
Reversing camera
Keyless entry
Push-button start/stop button
Holden MyLink infotainment system

2015 (JH.II) updates:
Integrated turn lamps on the side mirrors
Rain sensing wipers
Satellite navigation

CDX

  • Price when new: $23,990 - $31,040
  • Price used: $2,000 - $18,000

Special edition released in April and October 2012, which included alloy wheels and parking sensors as standard. From April 2013, the Equipe became a standard model across the Cruze range.

Adds:

17-inch alloy wheels
Rear parking sensors
“Equipe” badging

April 2013 updates:
17-inch alloy wheels
Front fog lamps
Rear parking sensors
Holden MyLink infotainment system
Bluetooth audio streaming

2015 (JH.II) updates:
Integrated turn lamps on the side mirrors
LED daytime running lamps

Z-Series

  • Price when new: $22,390 - $28,590
  • Price used: $9,000 - $18,000

The Z-Series was introduced as a runout model with additional cosmetic features added to the CDX model it replaced, then as part of the 2016 updates – the model became a regular model replacing the CDX.

Adds:

Dark finish alloy wheels
Dark finish sill plates
Z-Series floor mats
“Z-Series” badging

2016 updates:

17-inch two tone alloy wheels
Two-tone sill plates
“Z-Series” badging
“Z-Series” floor mats
Rear lip spoiler (sedan)
Rear sports spoiler (hatchback)

SRi

  • Price when new: $22,490 - $28,290
  • Price used: $6,500 - $15,000

Introduced as part of the JH (MY11/Series II) updates, the SRi is a sports-orientated model that sat alongside the CDX model in the range. Key differences were that the model had a 1.4 litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, performance suspension and sports body kit added.

The SRi model was discontinued as part of the 2016 updates to the Cruze, where the SRi Z-Series replaced the model.

Adds:

17-inch alloy wheels
Watts Link performance suspension
Sports body kit
Rear lip spoiler
Sports side skirts
Body coloured door handles with chrome strip inserts
Sonic Blue cloth trim
Front fog lamps
Leather wrapped steering wheel
Leather wrapped gear shifter
Digital speedometer

April 2013 updates:
18-inch alloy wheels
Holden MyLink infotainment system

2015 (JH.II) updates:
LED daytime running lights
Front fog lamps

SRi-V

  • Price when new: $26,490 - $31,790
  • Price used: $9,500 - $19,000

Introduced as part of the JH (MY11/Series II) update, the SRi-V replaced the CDX as the top-of-the-range sport-luxury model of the Cruze range.

In May 2014, the SRi-V model was replaced by the SRi Z-Series, but was brought back again for the 2015 JH.II Cruze, and then subsequently discounted for the 2016 Cruze range.

Adds:

Rear parking sensors
Keyless entry
Start/stop button
Leather appointed seats
Heated front seats
Premium audio system
7-inch colour LCD screen
AUX and USB input
iPod connectivity
DVD player
In-built 10GB hard drive
Pause live radio feature

April 2013 updates:
18-inch alloy wheels
Holden MyLink infotainment system

June 2013 updates:
Satellite navigation

2015 (JH.II) updates:
Rain sensing wipers
Rear view camera
Remote start functionality
Suede seat inserts

SRi Z-Series

  • Price when new: $26,890 - $29,340
  • Price used: $8,500 - $19,500

The SRi Z-Series was introduced as a runout model with additional cosmetic features added to the CDX model it replaced.

Adds:

Dark finish alloy wheels
Dark finish sill plates
Z-Series floor mats
Alloy pedal covers
“Z-Series” bading
Rear spoiler (hatchback only)

2016 updates:
18-inch alloy wheels in Satin Medium Android Colour
Alloy pedal covers
Alloy sill plates
Rear spoiler (hatcback only)

Should you buy it?

No, Nup, Nada, do not buy a Holden or Chevrolet Cruze.

Yes they are cheap but they’re cheap and nasty.

For what the Cruze costs to buy, we’d recommend an older, higher kilometre Toyota, Honda or Mazda over a newer lower kilometre Cruze.

Actually we’d recommend walking, public transport or learning how to rollerblade instead of buying a Cruze, these are genuinely bad cars.

Yes there may be a few okay examples out there but do you really want to risk it? We certainly wouldn’t.

Warranty & servicing

Warranty:
3 years / 100,000km

Servicing:
Every 12 months or 15,000km
Every 9 months or 15,000km (from MY12)

Tech specs

Body style:
4-door sedan
5-door hatchback
5-door wagon (marketed as Sportwagon)

Engine & outputs:
1.4 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol (CD, Equipe, SRi, SRi V)
1.6 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol (SRi, SRi V, SRi Z-Series)
1.8 litre 4-cylinder petrol (CD, Equipe, CDX, Z-Series)
2.0 litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel (CD, Equipe, CDX, Z-Series)\

Power:
103kW – 1.4 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol
132kW – 1.6 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol
104kW – 1.8 litre 4-cylinder petrol
110kW – 2.0 litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel

Torque:
200Nm – 1.4 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol
230Nm – 1.6 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol
176Nm – 1.8 litre 4-cylinder petrol
130Nm – 2.0 litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel

Transmissions:
5-speed manual, front-wheel drive (CD, CDX, Z-Series)
6-speed manual, front-wheel drive (CD, SRi, SRi V) – 1.4 litre
6-speed automatic, front-wheel drive (CD, Equipe, CDX, Z-Series)

Fuel use:
6.7 – 7.9L/100km (depending on engine and variant)

Length:
4597 – 4629mm (4-door sedan)
4518 – 4543mm (5-door hatchback)
4645mm (5-door wagon)

Width:
1788 – 1797mm

Height:
1477 – 1521mm

Kerb Weight:
1344 – 1578kg (depending on variant and spec)

Disclaimer

Information correct as of December 10, 2021.

The advice provided on this website is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

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