2011-2015 Chevrolet Cruze: problems, fuel economy, driving experience, photos

Updated: December 19, 2019

The Chevrolet Cruze is a global car, designed by an international engineering team and sold in 115 countries. Stylish and roomy, the Cruze was a big step up from the previous GM budget compacts, the Cavalier and the Cobalt.

2012 Chevrolet Cruze interior
2012 Chevrolet Cruze.

Compared to many other compact cars, the Cruze is heavier and offers a more solid feel. It's also one of the safest compact cars. That's good, but is it reliable? What are the common problems?

Chevrolet Cruze problems: A faulty PCV diaphragm in the valve cover and missing air check valve in the intake manifold can cause various problems with the 1.4L turbo engine, including excessive oil consumption, blue smoke from the exhaust, rough idle and Check Engine light. The computer scan may reveal codes P0171, P0106, P1101 and others. The repair might involve replacing the intake manifold and/or valve cover (camshaft cover). The dealer may charge you up to $900 to replace the intake manifold, valve cover and related parts. Google 'S

ervice Bulletin PIP5197J' for more info. The bulletin is dated October 2018. This forum has some info.
The PCV pipe can go bad too, causing similar issues and the code P1101.

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A leaking water pump can cause overheating and the A/C to stop working in the 1.4L engine. According to the GM service bulletin 14371A dated January 2015 for the 2011-2014 Chevrolet Cruze with the 1.4L engine, the warranty coverage for this issue has been extended to 10 years or 150,000 miles (240,000 km), whichever occurs first. The bulletin advises replacing a water pump if it's leaking. If out of warranty, the water pump replacement may cost from $480 to $620.

Oil leaks from the engine and transmission seals and cooler lines are common.

2012 Chevrolet Cruze
2012 Chevrolet Cruze.

The thermostat housing may need to be replaced because of a coolant leak.
Ignition coils may fail, causing misfiring.
There have been complaints about transmission failures in early models.
The trunk release switch in the trunk can stop working. The repair is not very expensive: replace the switch.

According to GM service bulletin 14311B for the 2011-2015 Chevrolet Cruze, many electrical problems can be caused by a loose negative battery cable. Problems include the display turning off and on, Antilock Brake System, Service Traction System, Service and Steering vehicle messages, etc. The bulletin extends the coverage for this problem. Dealers will replace the battery negative cable.

Engine and Transmission: The base LS model comes with a 138-hp 1.8L engine while the LT, 2LT, ECO and LTZ offer a turbocharged 1.4L motor.

Chevrolet Cruze 1.4L turbo engine

Chevrolet Cruze 1.4L turbo engine.

Gauges

Gauges.

For the 2014 and 2015 model years, the 151-hp turbodiesel was added to the 2.0TD and DIESEL trims. A 6-speed manual transmission is available in LS, LT and ECO trims. The most common model in the U.S. is the 1.4-turbo LT with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Read also: Pros and cons of buying a car with a turbocharger

Fuel Economy: The Cruze diesel gets 27 mpg city and 44 mpg highway, which would make it a great commuter car. The LS 1.8L auto is rated at 24/35 mpg city/highway. The most popular Cruze LT with 1.4L turbo and auto transmission gets 26 mpg city, 36 mpg highway, or about 500 miles (800 km) to a tank.

Timing belt or Timing chain: The Diesel and 1.8L engine have a timing belt. According to the 2015 owner's manual, for the 1.8L and 2.0L diesel engines, the timing belt, along with the idler pulley and timing belt tensioner (plus the water pump in the diesel engine) must be replaced at 97,500 miles or 156,000 km.

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The 1.4L turbo engine has a timing chain that requires no maintenance during the life of the engine, according to GM.

Features: The USB port was optional in 2011, 2012; standard from 2013. Cruise control is not available in LS, standard in all other trims from 2012. Bluetooth connectivity was optional in 2011, standard in all models except LS in 2012, standard in all trims from 2013. Only the LTZ trim comes with 18" alloy wheels. The spare tire and the jack were optional in 2011 Cruze and were not available in some ECO models. If this feature is important to you, make sure the car you want to buy is equipped with a spare tire and jack.

Handling and ride: The Cruze offers a solid quiet ride and responsive handling. The 1.8L engine is peppy and quick off the line. The 1.4L turbo is surprisingly smooth.

Reliability: As of December 2019, Consumer Reports rates the 2011-2015 Cruze as 'worse than average' for reliability. Some of the problems were addressed by warranty campaigns and recalls.

2012 Chevrolet Cruze

2012 Chevrolet Cruze.

2012 Chevrolet Cruze

2012 Chevrolet Cruze.

The Cruze 1.8L engine is less troublesome than the 1.4L turbo. More reliable compact cars include Toyota Prius, Corolla, Mazda 3, and Honda Civic.

Pros: Safety ratings, roomy, well-designed interior, compliant ride, large trunk, available diesel engine.

Cons: Seat fabric could be better, reliability, the cruise control is not standard.

Overall: The Cruze is one of the safest compact cars, and it offers a comfortable quiet ride. The reliability is questionable, especially in early models. The 2011-2013 Cruze received the most complaints while the 2014 and 2015 model years fared better. To be fair, we also came across many owner reviews that were happy with the car. NHTSA awarded all model years of the first-generation 2011-2015 Chevy Cruze with a 5-star overall crash test rating.

Similar cars:

What to look for when buying a used Chevrolet Cruze: The Cruze was popular with rental car companies; check the history records to see if the car was used as a rental vehicle. Many owners mentioned coolant, oil and transmission leaks, so we would suggest having the vehicle of your choice inspected for leaks and other problems. One of the symptoms of coolant leaks is low coolant level in the coolant bottle, and a coolant smell under the hood. During the test drive watch out for the coolant temperature gauge showing signs of overheating. Overheating the engine can cause many problems. Issues with the thermostat and PCV system are often mentioned as the reason for the Check Engine light coming on. The white smoke from the exhaust, lack of boost and whining noise coming from the front of the engine, could indicate a problem with a turbocharger.

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Maintenance tips: The turbocharged engine is very sensitive to lack of maintenance; have the oil changed regularly. According to the 2013 Cruze owner's manual, the recommended oil grade is SAE 5W-30, Synthetic Blend.
A leaking water pump is mentioned often; keep an eye on the coolant level and watch out for coolant smell under the hood and signs of overheating.
Old spark plugs can cause the engine to misfire and the Check Engine light to come on. Have the spark plugs replaced at or before recommended intervals. The owner's manual for the 2015 Cruze recommends replacing spark plugs in the 1.4L engine at 60K miles for severe conditions and 97K miles for normal conditions. Read more: How to maintain the engine. Read the note about the timing belt above.

You might also be interested:

Resources:
Safety Recalls - NHTSA - check for recalls.
Transport Canada - Motor Vehicle Safety Recalls - check for recalls in Canada.

2013 Chevrolet Cruze specifications

Dimensions:
Overall length:
Overall width:
Overall height:
Wheelbase:

181.0 in (4,597 mm)
70.7 in (1,796 mm)
58.1 in (1,476 mm)
105.7 in (2,685 mm)

Curb weight

3126 lb. (LT automatic)

Cargo volume:

15.0 cubic feet (LT automatic)

Turning circle, curb-to-curb : 35.7 ft (touring}
Engine:
Cruze LS:




Cruze LT, ECO, 2LT, LTZ:

1.8-liter, 4-cylinder, 16-valve DOHC with VVT
138 hp @ 6,300 rpm
125 lb-ft @ 3,800 rpm

Turbocharged 1.4-liter, 4-cylinder, 16-valve DOHC VVT
138 hp @ 4,900 rpm
148 lb-ft @ 1,850 rpm (automatic)
148 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm (manual)
Recommended Fuel:

regular unleaded

Fuel Tank Capacity:
LS, LT, LTZ, Eco with auto:
Eco with manual:
15.6 US gallons (59.0 liters)
12.6 US gallons (47.4 liters)

Engine oil capacity:
Engine Oil with Filter:
1.8L L4 Engine
1.4L turbo L4 Engine


4.25 US qt (4.0L)
4.25 US qt (4.0L)

* subject to change
By Samarins.com Staff