Though it’s often classed as a small car the Holden Cruze is quite large and almost belongs in the next size up. It has good leg and shoulder room for four adults. Three children in the back and parents in the front all have room to move.
Comfort is generally good and noise, vibration and harshness are quite well suppressed. Rough roads do challenge the suspension at times, but for its class Cruze and the time it was acceptable.
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 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 pretty 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 engines were on the crude side, being old fashioned and pretty noisy output. They also had too much turbo lag. 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 aren’t the best-built cars so it makes sense to have a full inspection by a professional.
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.
Make sure the timing belt has been changed at the correct interval. Note that some engines had timing changed and those don?t have to be replaced.
Diesel engines that have spent almost all their time may have particulate filters partly, or almost completely clogged. A long hard run may clean it out, if not you?ll have to pay a fair bit to replace it.
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 the settings to make sure everything works. Repairs aren?t cheap.
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.
Budget on spending from $3000 to $6000 for a 2011 Cruze CD; $4000 to $7000 for a 2014 Equipe; $5000 to $9000 for a 2013 CDX; $6000 to $9000 for a 2014 SRi; $7000 to $11,000 for a 2014 CDX or a 2015 SRi: $9000 to $13,000 for a 2016 Z-Series; and
CAR BUYING TIP
Country cars with big miles on the clock may be in better condition than those which have only pottered around town in stop-start traffic.
RECALLS: To browse recalls on all vehicles go to the ACCC at: www.productsafety.gov.au/products/transport/cars/