For what’s classified as a small car the Holden Cruze is quite large and has good leg and shoulder room for four adults. Three children in the back and parents in the front all have room to move. You get a lot for your money if you’re mainly seeking comfortable travel, but if you’re looking for a smaller sportier Commodore you won’t find it here
Comfort is generally good and noise, vibration and harshness are well suppressed. Rough roads do challenge the suspension at times, but for its class Cruze is acceptable.
Note that these Cruses share nothing with the cute little Japanese Holden Cruze SUV sold from 2002 to 2006. Why the same name? I’ve no idea, you will have to ask the marketing gurus …
Cruze has a fair bit of Australian design in its style and some Aussie changes under the bonnet. Most Cruzes were built in Holden’s Elizabeth, South Australia factory from early 2011. Prior to that they came from a GM (Daewoo) factory in South Korea.
Quality of build wasn’t particularly good in the Cruzes built by Daewoo. The Holden units are better, but starting from a low base meant it was hard to get it up to the quality of the Commodore.
Cruze in sedan format arrived here in June 2009, a five-door hatchback in November 2011. The revised rear end to create the body was virtually all done in Australia and is sold in many countries globally. A station wagon further added to body options when it arrived in January 2013.
Holden Cruze is powered by a variety of engines: a 1.8-litre petrol engine that’s barely got enough power; a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel with good grunt. And a semi-sporty unit in the form of a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol.
The Cruze 1.4 comes with the bonus of a more sophisticated suspension setup and is the best of the bunch by quite margin.
The early turbo-diesel engine were on the crude side, particularly in their noise output. They also had more turbo lag than is pleasant. Changes to later diesels in 2011 made it significantly better, but it still feels like an old style unit in some ways.
Cruze was one of the first cars discontinued as part of the shutdown of local Holden production, with the last one running down the line early in October 2016.
There are Holden dealers just about everywhere in Australia, though you may not be able to get uncommon parts for the Cruze in remote locations. Generally parts can be shipped to the outback within a couple of working days.
Cruze is reasonably easy for good amateur mechanics to do routine work. Keep clear of safety items unless you really know what you’re doing. A workshop manual is a wise investment.
Insurance charges are a little lower than average for this class, reflecting the fact that a lot of components are made in Australia. Premiums don’t vary hugely from company to company, but it’s still worth shopping around. Make sure you compare the fine print on what you’re being offered.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
These weren’t the best cars every to come to the Holden lineup. So it makes sense to have a full inspection by a professional, after making initial checks to the best of your ability.
Drive one on a rough(ish) road and listen for squeaks and rattles caused by poor quality components and the fact the Cruze was built down to a price.
We heard complaints of air conditioning systems breaking down in the earlier models, but that problem seems to have been sorted out by now. Try all settings during your test drive.
Make sure the engine starts within a second or so of it turning over. Diesels are slower than petrols, but shouldn’t take more than about three seconds to get up and running.
After running the engine on a light load for a few minutes floor the throttle and make sure it picks up with a minimum of fuss.
Automatic transmissions should change gear promptly, and not hunt overmuch from gear to gear.
Look for uneven tyre wear, particularly on the front wheels. It could mean hard driving and/or that the wheels have been kerbed and knocked out of alignment.
Expect to pay from $5000 to $8000 for a 2011 Holden Cruze CD; $7000 to $11,000 for a 2011 CDX; $10,000 to $15,000 for a 2012 SRi or a 2013 CD Equipe; $12,000 to $18,000 for a 2014 CDX; $14,000 to $21,000 for a 2014 CDX Sportwagon or a 2015 SRi; and $15,000 to $21,000 for a 2016 SRi Z-Series.
CAR BUYING TIP
Start you research on used cars at least a couple of weeks before you plan to buy. That gives you a feel for what’s happening in particular models.