What to Look Out for When Buying a Used Chevrolet Cruze


The Chevrolet Cruze is a compact car that most people probably won’t be able to get too excited about, but it’s also the sort of car the world needs. There’s nothing particularly flashy or exciting about the Chevy Cruze but that doesn’t prevent it from being a sensible, practical and affordable family runabout that is bound to appeal to a lot of those looking to buy their first car, especially used. Here’s what you need to know and what to look out for when buying a used Chevrolet Cruze.

What is the Chevrolet Cruze?

The Chevrolet Cruze is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive compact car that’s available in several different body styles and with both gas and diesel engines. Over the years, the Cruze has been produced in sedan, hatchback and even station wagon body styles.

Chevrolet Cruze history

Between 2001 and 2008 there was another car using the Cruze name, but this version of the GM car was quite different from the American Cruze as it was sold in Japan and was actually a derivative of the subcompact Suzuki Ignis five-door hatchback.

First-generation Chevy Cruze (2011-2015)

2012 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ

Although the first-generation Chevy Cruze was brought in as a replacement for the Chevrolet Cobalt, the Cruze was a completely different car built on another platform. The base engine is a 1.4-liter turbo-four producing 138 horsepower and 148 lb.-ft. of torque, but there’s also a more powerful 1.8-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder and both engines were available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

During the 2014 and 2015 model years the 2LT version of the Cruze was also available with a 2.0-liter turbodiesel.

The Cruze benefitted from a mild refresh in 2012 for the 2013 model year that gave the car a more contemporary look with a redesigned front fascia, and GM’s optional MyLink entertainment system also became available in the Cruze.

Second generation Chevy Cruze (2016-2019)

2016 Chevrolet Cruze

The biggest and best changes to the Cruze arrived with the unveiling of the car’s second generation for the 2016 model year. The compact Chevy got a much more modern, stylish and sporty new look with a fastback-style sloping roofline, and the 1.4-liter base engine now produced 153 horsepower. This was also the point where Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility became available.

A hatchback version of the Cruze was unveiled for the North American market in 2016 and it went on sale with the 2017 model year, along with a diesel-powered variant of the Cruze for the second time.

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How long was the Chevy Cruze in production?

GM has been producing and selling the Chevy Cruze since 2008 but it didn’t go on sale in the United States until 2010 as a 2011 model year. Although a new second-generation of the Chevrolet Cruze went on sale in 2016, GM stopped selling the Chevrolet Cruze in the US in 2019 in the face of plummeting sales figures due to the increasing popularity of SUVs.

How popular was the Chevrolet Cruze?

US sales of the Chevy Cruze averaged around 244,000 units per year between 2011 and 2015, but in 2016 sales dropped to 188,876 and they continued to fall each year after. The last year of production was 2019 and sales dropped to just 47,975 from 142,617 units the year before.

How many generations of Chevy Cruze are there?

There were just two generations of the Chevrolet Cruze spanning the 2011 and 2019 model years. The first-generation covered the 2011 to 2015 model years and the second-generation models were in production from the 2016 model year onwards until the Cruze was discontinued in 2019.

How well does the Chevrolet Cruze hold its value?

In general, the Chevrolet Cruze held its value quite well from new. After three years of driving 12,500 miles per year, the Chevrolet Cruze only lost around 21% of its original purchase price. With a 2011 base model Chevy Cruze costing from just $13,900, three years of ownership driving average miles would only have seen the car lose less than $3,000 of its original value.

Is the Chevy Cruze a reliable car?

Consumer Reports gave the Chevrolet Cruze a rank of 4.0 out of 5.0 for reliability and that places the little Chevy above average in its class. With the average annual repair cost of a Cruze being around $545, the overall cost of ownership was also lower than for most of the Chevy’s rivals.

Does the Chevy Cruze have a lot of problems?

In general, the Chevy Cruze doesn’t suffer from any major problems but oil leaks from the engine, coolant lines and transmission seals are fairly common and leaking coolant can cause the thermostat housing to need replacing.

Like most affordable mass-produced cars, there are annoying little issues to look out for with the Cruze like faulty trunk release switches. These types of problems can be inconvenient but they’re not expensive to fix and they shouldn’t put you off what could otherwise be a pretty sound used car.

2014 Chevrolet Cruze RS

What is the life expectancy of a Chevy Cruze?

A Chevrolet Cruze that’s properly maintained and regularly serviced will easily be good for at least 10 years and 140,000 miles or more. A seven or eight-year-old Chevy Cruze with less than 100,000 miles on it will have plenty of life left in it and it would be a very affordable first used car for a new driver to buy and to own.

How much should you pay for a used Chevy Cruze?

You can buy an early used Chevy Cruze for between $3,000 and $6,000, but you’ll probably be looking at a car with more than 150,000 miles on the odometer and questionable or even non-existent service history. For around $10,000 you should be able to pick up something like a 2014 or 2015 model in great condition with reasonable miles.

Here’s a table of the average price ranges of each model year of the Chevy Cruze.

Model YearAverage Minimum PriceAverage Maximum Price
2011$3,495$12,888
2012$3,999$12,995
2013$4,500$12,888
2014$4,590$14,280
2015$6,491$14,998
2016$6,400$18,000
2017$8,911$20,200
2018$10,300$21,720
2019$11,347$22,195
Data from thecarconnection.com

Why is a used Chevy Cruze so cheap?

A used Chevy Cruze is cheap to buy because even when it was new it was always designed to be a cheap car to appeal to a mass-market audience. You can still pay close to $30k for the most recent, high-spec versions of the Cruze with really low miles, but on the whole, the Chevy Cruze is an extremely affordable car to buy and run.

Is the Chevrolet Cruze good on gas?

The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco with its 1.4-liter turbo-four engine and manual transmission is rated for fuel economy by the EPA at 28 mpg in the city, 40 mpg on the highway and 32 mpg combined. The least fuel-efficient version with the automatic transmission is still pretty fuel-efficient with ratings of 22/34/26 mpg for city/highway/combined driving.

By the time the final Chevy Cruze models were rolling off the production line in 2019, a 1.4-liter turbo-four model with an automatic transmission could get you 30 mpg in the city, 38 mpg on the highway and 33 mpg combined. If you want a Cruze with even better fuel economy ratings there are also models around with a 1.6-liter turbodiesel engine mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission that will get you 31/48/37 mpg for city/highway/combined driving.

Which Chevy Cruze model years should you avoid?

If you were to go by the Consumer Reports ratings you would probably want to avoid the 2011 to 2015 model years of the Chevy Cruze, but most of the problems reported will have been fixed under warranty and with recalls so they shouldn’t put you off buying one. In general, if you want the most reliable version of the Chevy Cruze it would probably be wise to go for a model with the 1.8-liter engine as they have historically had fewer problems than the 1.4-liter units.

How many seats in a Chevy Cruze?

There are five seats in the Chevy Cruze and you’ll be pleased to hear this is a compact car that really can accommodate five full-size adults as the cabin is spacious as well as comfortable.

Compared to its main rival, the Ford Focus, the first-generation Chevy Cruze has more passenger volume and front legroom and a much bigger trunk. The Focus has more rear legroom with 36.1 inches, but the Cruze isn’t far behind with 35.4 inches of rear legroom.

How safe is the Chevrolet Cruze?

The Chevy Cruze is a very safe compact car by almost any measure. From its launch in 2010, the little Chevy boasted an impressive list of standard safety features that helped it to a full five-star rating for overall safety from the NHTSA and the IIHS named the 2011 Chevy Cruze a Top Safety Pick.

Back in 2011, the Cruze boasted several segment-first safety features such as 10 airbags and a collapsible pedal system that was to help reduce the risk of injuries to the legs or ankles injuries in the event of a frontal crash.

2016 Chevrolet Cruze

Is the Chevy Cruze fast?

The Chevy Cruze isn’t particularly fast or exciting to drive, but that’s not what this excellent little car was designed for. First-generation models struggle to get you from 0 to 60mph in under 10 seconds, although the arrival of the second-generation Chevy Cruze saw the best 0-60mph times drop to a much more respectable 7.1 seconds.

Is the Chevrolet Cruze comfortable?

For a car in this class that cost so little to buy new, the Chevy Cruze really is a very comfortable car for the driver and passengers. There’s a ton of space inside for a car of such compact exterior proportions, and the quality of the seats and the amount of adjustment available helps the Cruze punch above its weight in terms of overall comfort.

What’s the highest level of Chevy Cruze?

The highest trim level of Chevrolet Cruze available when the car went on sale for the 2011 model year was the LTZ, although the leather upholstery that usually denotes a top trim level was also standard in the 2LT that was just below the LTZ. Chevy eventually simplified the Cruze lineup a little and the top trim level of the 2019 model is the aptly named Premier.

If you’d like to know the full details of ever trim level of every model year of the Chevy Cruze, here are the official PDF brochures you can download for free.

Is a used Chevrolet Cruze worth the money?

If I tell you I think Chevy could have got away with charging a little more for the Cruze than it did when it was in production you won’t be surprised to hear that I think a good used Chevrolet Cruze is definitely worth the asking price. One of the really good things about the Cruze is there’s a ton of them out there for sale so you can really shop around and get a sensational deal.

Of course, if you want to get a used Chevy Cruze or one of many other well-maintained used vehicles for a bargain price you could always check out government auctions. Lots of federal and local authorities had the Cruze in their fleets so you should be able to find plenty being auctioned off all over the country. A lifetime subscription to government auctions will keep you informed of when and where these auctions are being held and the small one-off cost could easily pay for itself many, many times over.

Should you buy a used Chevrolet Cruze?

Yes, if you’re in the market for a spacious, comfortable, versatile family car that doesn’t cost a lot to buy or run you can’t go too far wrong with a good used Chevrolet Cruze. And if your budget runs to a second-generation model from the 2016 model year onwards, you’ll also be getting a very stylish little car that doesn’t look at all like a model that was discontinued in 2019.

Sean Cooper

Former retail auto industry professional for almost a decade and an automotive writer and journalist for the last 8 years

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