I had now done something I never thought I’d do and had actually talked others out of doing. I leased a car. Secretly, I was overjoyed that I was finally able to fulfill my dream of taking advantage of one of those ultra-low lease deals for the advertised terms and payment. The icing on the cake: I loved the car.
I know. I could have taken advantage of one of these deals at any time prior, but we’re “buy and hold” kind of people. The only way I could convince myself to take the plunge was if my back was against the wall (it was), and it was the best of several bad options (ditto). I have to admit, it’s so much easier when you’re broke and are just shopping for the awesome deal and couldn’t care less about the car. I just helped my former roommate from D.C., after she totaled her car, buy a leftover 2019 Nissan Sentra S for $16,000 out the door. This is a car with an MSRP of $19,500. Is the Sentra a great car? Not even close. Is that a great deal for someone who needs a car right now and has little money and can only handle a small payment? Absolutely.
I remember being impressed by the Cruze when it was introduced. Although a global car, U.S. versions were built in GM’s Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant. It was the first domestically produced compact car offered by General Motors that was genuinely competitive. It followed a truly lackluster string of cars that include the Vega, Monza, Cavalier and Cobalt. Wikipedia has a great background on the Cruze.
“Just another crappy American car,” I thought, and moved on. Now, there was one sitting in my driveway! Aside from the fantastic deal – $165 a month with $0 down – there was a lot to like about the Cruze. To my eyes, it’s far more attractive than any of its predecessors except for maybe the Monza 2+2. From the outside, I loved the fact that it didn’t look like a base model. With body-colored bumpers, alloy-wheel-looking wheel covers, and chrome trim along the base of the side windows and between the tail lights, only an experienced eye could tell I was driving the poverty-spec version with the naturally-aspirated 1.8-liter motor. The only real visual give was the black side mirrors.
Inside, there was a handsome two-tone light- and dark-gray interior with soft padding on the dash and a chrome-brushed center stack. The steering wheel was a nice, thick three-spoke design, and the stubby gear shift featured a leather boot. The base LS was well equipped with a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, automatic head lamps, air-conditioning, an eight-way (manual) adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split rear seat, 5-inch display in the dashboard with an additional display in the gauge cluster, power windows and locks and a six-speaker stereo with a CD/MP3 player and satellite radio. Most importantly, there were 10 airbags, stability and traction control, and antilock brakes. The only things missing were power mirrors and cruise control.
After the Grand Caravan, pretty much anything would feel sporty, but I was still taken with exactly how sporty the Cruze felt. The driver sits low to the ground, and with the small steering wheel in its lowest position and the body-hugging seats, I liked to pretend I was driving a budget 3-Series BMW. In LS trim with the 16-inch wheels, it didn’t come close to a 3-Series in actual handling. When I took it out to a twisty road near my house, the electronic power steering was easily over-whelmed. So, my driving would have to remain limited to feeling sporty. Living in a densely populated suburban area, ride quality and noise are bigger problems, and the Cruze excelled in those areas.
“Charlie” was immediately drafted into family-car duty. Even though Shadow actually had a touch more interior volume, the Cruze had a few tricks up its sleeve. The 15.6 gallon gas tank, when combined with gas mileage in the high 30s on the highway, provided a nice long “cruzing” range. There was also an exceptionally large 15.0 cubic-foot trunk which could swallow the luggage of a family of four. In addition to three free months of satellite radio, Charlie had a free year of OnStar, and I loved how they were able to transmit the maps not only to the center-dash display, but on the digital display in the gauge cluster as well.
While most people see this as a minus, the Cruze was several hundred pounds heavier than most of its competition. While that may have kept it from obtaining the status of most efficient car (although the Eco model came close), I like to think it contributed to its quietness and solidity. From what I’ve read, the following generation, while lighter, was not nearly as quiet or solid.
Any concerns I had about GM quality were put to rest with Charlie. The only issue I had to bring the car in for, besides the driver’s door weather stripping constantly coming off, was a loose driver’s seat frame that creaked when I pressed the clutch. The dealer discovered that they didn’t have the correct part after taking out the seat, so they gave me a Cadillac STS loaner for the night. I know I should have loved the STS, but I was happy to get my Cruze back the next day. That’s how fond I was of the car. I think children pick up on their parents’ feelings towards certain things, because they were just as fond of Charlie. The only one who wasn’t was my wife. I learned later that she was very uncomfortable in the passenger seat. Being so low to the ground, with her feet on the floor, her long legs rose slightly above the seat, giving her no thigh support. Also, her left leg constantly rubbed against the wide console.
My only other issue with the car were the syncros in the transmission. I’m not a power shifter. I like to smoothly, gently nudge the transmission into gear. Most of the time, the shifter moved from gear-to-gear like [in my best Sean Connery impression] “a knife through buttah.” Other times, no matter how far in the clutch and how gentle I was with the gear shift, I ultimately had to force it into gear. Since this wasn’t really something I could reproduce for the service department, I just learned to live with it.
Financially, things were working out just as I had planned. That fall, my son entered kindergarten, and I was immediately $1,000 per month richer. About a year later, my daughter won the magnet school lottery, allowing her to attend Pre-K3 for free with the only cost being after care. My original plan was to put the money towards the down payment for a new car at the end of the lease, but now I was planning on buying Charlie. At around $8,000, the residual was a bargain.
It was not to be. On December 6, 2012, 21 months and 18,000 miles in, I had to get to my daughter before a school function began at 5PM. After picking up my son, whose school was in the other direction, I found myself about 10 cars back from the stop sign across from the road that led to her school. The backup was due to the employees at a nearby large company leaving for the day, making it nearly impossible to cross the strange, 5-way intersection that only had stop signs on the road that I was on and the one directly across the busy state highway. My impatience was getting the best of me, and by the time I finally got up to the stop sign, I resembled a junkie hopped up on blow.
After waiting for the mass of cars to clear, I looked right and did not see any northbound traffic. Looking left, there were two cars heading southbound, with just enough room for me to dart between cars one and two. After the first car passed, I dropped the clutch and floored it. There was the sound of a horn, two headlights in my passenger-side window, and a loud crash that spun Charlie a full 180 degrees.
After I got my bearings, I felt Charlie rolling backwards and stomped on the brake, but nothing happened. Pulling the emergency brake did the trick. I then looked left and right, but saw nothing but the side-curtain airbags. Next came the hard part. Recall, my son was with me, sitting in the rear on the passenger side, which took the brunt of the impact. It was also very quiet back there. I slowly turned my head around [please God please God please God please God please God], and there was my son, just fine in his Graco TurboBooster, looking as confused as me.
I called 911 (I let my introductory OnStar subscription lapse), and the accident had already been called in. I said to my son, “Stay here,” and went over to check on the other driver. There was a circa-2006 Honda Civic that was now several feet shorter with a dazed looking elderly man at the wheel. I asked him if he was all right through the shattered window. He just looked at me like he didn’t understand. “ARE YOU OK?” He slowly nodded, thankfully, and I went back to my car where my son was starting to panic because he couldn’t open his door. I got back inside to wait for help and called my wife. Fortunately, she had just turned into the school about 30 seconds before the accident. After the ambulance arrived, they checked out my son and did not find any issues. The other driver went to the ER, but was discharged later that night (Don’t ask me how I know that). I do know there was a personal injury claim, but not the physical complaint or details.
Based on the skid marks – or lack thereof – it was estimated that we were hit at about 40 to 45 MPH. The fact that this little car was able to protect us so well is a testimony to GM engineering. My wife even wrote a letter to Chevrolet thanking them for making the Cruze such a safe car. We also contacted our state representative about fixing that intersection, which now has a light and no fifth leg. We weren’t the first nor last accident at that intersection before the changes, but I do believe we were the worst.
Remember in one of my first COAL’s, when I said, “behind the wheel, [impatience] can kill you or someone else?” It almost killed my son, myself, and an 87-year-old man from South Florida (the town next to the one where I grew up, coincidentally) who was driving a borrowed car. I keep the above pictures of Charlie on my phone as a reminder. The worst part is there wouldn’t have been a problem arriving after 5PM – my daughter would have been just fine. I just didn’t want her to be the only child in aftercare while everyone else was at the event.
Later that night, when I called my insurance company, I asked how the rental car coverage works. “Oh, you don’t have rental car coverage on the Chevrolet. You do have it on the Pontiac.” I so wanted to bitch-slap my insurance agent right then. I had to pay for the crappy Toyota Corolla rental (sorry, Matt) out of pocket until we bought a new car.
There was a bit of an upside. Since Charlie was such a spectacular deal, the insurance payout was about $3,000 more than the lease buyout. In addition, GM Financial only requires the buyout amount, not the full settlement. Therefore, we were able to keep the difference. Pretty good for a $0-down lease.
A few days later, we went down to the towing yard so my son could say goodbye to Charlie. There were tears, but I ended the visit with, “Now let’s go and see what just may be our next car!”
Nice review and thank goodness everyone was OK. Impatience coupled with speed are surely the cause of most accidents. Keeping the pic on your phone will be a good reminder.
On the Cruze, I thought it was probably Chevy’s best small car (in the US) and a quantum leap over the penalty box Cavaliers I used to get as rentals. Too bad Chevy couldn’t sell more of them.
Thanks Lincolnman. Chevy actually did sell about 250K of these in that first year, and I believe there were more good ones than bad ones. But, there were still a lot of bad ones, and once word got out, sales started to fall. Combine that with a half-hearted follow up, and you’ve just lost your market.
Oh that sucks when you lose a beloved car that way. I lost my last Aztek due to a deer strike. While the car was still drive-able after the accident, it was far from economical to fix a 10 year old vehicle.
I don’t know if these “fatter” Chevys (I’m including the Malibu in this description) were planned before the events of the Great Financial Crisis or added after, but these cars were really quiet and composed. I spent a weekend with my daughter’s partner’s Cruze Eco a few years back and was impressed with how well the car behaved. My daughter eventually got a 2016 Malibu Classic that I was able to drive extensively, again a quiet and composed car. She had loaned it to me for an extended period and I was sad when she turned it back in at lease end…
Glad to see everyone came out of the accident relatively unharmed and your adventures continued.
Loved this car.
Only this current Malibu was designed after the 08 auto crisis. Once GM got out from under the crippling pension cost debacle, they could spend more money on auto development and make a better product.
The Cruze actually came out in ’08 in Korea and some other markets, so development started well before the crisis. The crisis my have motivated GM to bring it here rather than try to develop a similar U.S.-only model.
It was one of Bob Lutz’s last things he shepherded before he left the company. For all his larger-than-life persona, he has a product first-and-foremost kind of guy. He made sure the cars were better than before at every company he worked for.
Lutz made mistakes (Solstice, SSR), but he did plenty of good things, too. Besides the Cruze, he was responsible for the revitalization of the Malibu from an old-GM, craptacular fleet special into a car which has stacked up well in what is probably the most highly competitive category.
Glad you and your son were OK. That was a scary ending to this piece! Hopefully you were able to find a good successor to the Cruze.
Thanks Scott. We did, and I’ll share the details next week.
I will join the chorus of “glad you were both OK”. And yes, it is hard to get more dazed and confused than right after air bags have gone off in a crash.
I think you lived the perfect lease scenario – zero down and low monthly payment while you have the car then end up with a lot of cash in your pocket after the insurance settlement. Did you actually get to drive a new car for free when it was all over? It is too bad it had to be a car you really liked.
Thanks JP. I wouldn’t say free, but it was probably the least I ever spent for 21 months of driving.
Most families today could not imagine how they could get by with such a “small” vehicle. They would be ashamed to be seen with it.
Wait until you see my current ride.
I lost my new 1991 Honda Prelude SI 4WS to an 89 year old Eastern European airline pilot with diplomatic immunity from the nearby military base. He hit me at an angle going about 60mph on the highway and threw me into two other cars and totaled us all. I had a broken shoulder on my left side and a broken knee on my right side and whiplash. (Those old door mounted shoulder belts didn’t work so well). I had to quit graduate school. It took me about 2 years to get better. But that Honda crumpled in all the right ways and never leaked any gas. The build quality was amazing. I refer to it at my Honda Prelude Hatchback. I went to my Honda Dealer and bought the new rounded 93 Prelude.
I’m not surprised. The Civic’s front end was mostly gone, but protected the other guy quite well. Gotta love a Honda.
Woah, that’s a solid impact, glad it was a solid car that protected your son. Impatience gets the best of us all from time to time…but luck usually lets us get away with it.
Nice car, I’ve only ever sat in one but it felt like it was a serious effort by GM. It’s really nice when affordable cars are also surprisingly enjoyable.
No one was more shocked than me, especially considering that I would never have considered an American car. Unfortunately, Mary Barra is stripping all of the fun out of GM cars and returning the vehicles to “also-rans” in pretty much any comparison test.
Glad everyone was OK. I don’t like small cars, but I was grateful whenever I got one of these Cruzes as a rental. They truly are small cars that drive like big cars—you don’t feel like you’re in a tin can. It’s as close as an American car company has ever gotten to building a w201 Mercedes (190E). I know the Ford Focus had some high-content years, but they also had miserable automatic transmissions (at least that was my rental experience), and the interior quality wasn’t as nice as the Cruzes I drove. If I needed a small, city car, the Cruze would be at the top of my list. I know the usual suspects from Honda and Toyota have major advantages, but you could say the same about a w201 versus an Acura Integra. Completely different goals and a different (but valid) set of compromises.
Thanks David. It was a great car, and my sister loves her ’14 2LT.
Your family was very fortunate.
And you got a great deal, on an excellent car. And a manual to boot! In fall 2010, I needed a reliable, hassle-free car (so that meant new). The then new Cruze was better for my needs, but the 2011 Malibu lease cost less— $215 with all taxes and fees, $0 down, 30k miles for 2 years.
As with you, I grew to like my car. I also drove it more than expected, so I bought it at lease end. It was easily the most reliable car I have ever had—probably most reliable I will ever have. My car was, like yours, a pleasant surprise.
Had I turned it in, a Cruze with a manual trans was a likely replacement.
Your Cruze looked much nicer than its successor. And the gear ratios were much better.
Also, the 1.8 seems to have a better reputation than the 1.4 turbo.
I don’t agree with your take on the Cobalt however. Even the base ones had decent interiors, and drove well. But the SS supercharged (and later Turbo), were fantastic cars. I had an SS Super for three years, and other than ingress/egress, it was terrific. It was a blast to drive. In that time, no problems. And it kept its value, so when I stopped working for a while, I sold it easily.
When Chevrolet decided on a manual transmission for the 2nd gen, they picked the previous Eco transmission for all trims. It’s not as well-suited to the turbo engine’s powerband as the old non-Eco transmission – It’s very wide-ratio with the top 3 gears all overdrive. I own and Eco and a 1LT and the 1LT transmission just feels better. 6th gear on the regular transmission is the same ratio as 5th on the Eco.
As far as fuel economy, I regularly beat the 42 MPG highway rating. It’s a FE beast at 55-60 MPH. My best tank was 48.6 MPG calculated by hand – the DIC consistently reads about 10% optimistic.
A trick you can do with the Eco is to replace the fuel pump assembly with a non-Eco unit – you get to fill an extra 3 gallons of gas in the tank (same tank, vent closes at 12.6 gallons in the Eco). You can, and some have, drive over 800 miles on a single tank of gas. I’ve gotten over 700 once.
The 1.8 is a simpler engine. The 1.4T has PCV issues that require replacing the valve cover *and* intake manifold at the same time. A part in the manifold (flapper valve) fails, and boost gets into the crankcase, which blows out a burst-disk on the valve cover. If you get a failed disk, you can’t just replace the valve cover, as that will blow out again soon. In addition, the missing flapper valve now allows oil into the intake and you get oil fouling on #2 and #3 cylinders.
Yes, this happened to me.
There are now improved manifolds that fix that problem for the future and even DIY kits that seem to work well.
That’s too bad. I test drove a Cruze 1.4T 6-speed manual while my car was getting an oil change at dealer in 2012.
I thought it was a rather pleasant car. It was an LT I think. It just didn’t make economic sense to buy that car vs buying my leased Malibu (I was way over on miles).
Your valve cover/intake manifold PCV issue sounds like $$$$ to have some one fix. That would be disappointing to me.
And the 2nd gen manual Cruze ratios are awfully WIDE and just awful. It’s too bad, I considered getting a hatchback 6 speed. But at the time, late 2016. I was not aware that the 1.4T motor had issues.
I will contend that the Cobalt was a substantial improvement over the Cavalier, but GM benchmarked the ’99 VW Jetta when developing it. That already guaranteed that the Cobalt would be obsolete when it was introduced in 2005, along with a brand new Jetta, coincidentally. In addition, the two-door looked too much like the Cavalier it replaced, and the four-door just looked small and not terribly attractive. It was clear that GM still had the attitude, “The people who will buy this are people who can’t afford a Malibu.”
The Cruze, on the other hand, was developed as a destination car, not a car for which people settle. It’s one of the reasons why the top trim LTZ waded deep into Malibu territory, something the mass-market Cobalt didn’t do. The SS may have been priced in this territory but only really appealed to a small enthusiast audience.
Yes, GM benchmarked the 1999 Jetta.
I liked the 99 Jetta a lot though. Nice interior. And it was a great looking car also (Cobalt was not). But in my job, it’s prudent to drive a Detroit Three product.
My Cobalt SS was also, like your Cruze, a pleasant surprise. I needed a car, and only new manual Cobalt available for a test drive was an SS Super, and I had a blast. So I decided to splurge (it cost almost double a nice used Cobalt that got away) and I got one.
With the spare $3K on the lease, the car gods made it up to you for having to pay Carmax to get out from under the note on Carlos. But I’m sure you’d rather not have had the accident.
That’s definitely one good way to look at it!
One happy post-script was that because of our good experience with Charlie, my sister bought a 2LT with the turbo and 6-speed manual in 2014. She also got a fantastic deal – $22,500 out the door with pretty much everything except a back-up camera. She hasn’t had any problems with it at all in almost 6 years.
Wow, that’s quite a dramatic story. And my goodness, I’m glad both you and your son were physically OK, and hopefully your son recovered emotionally as well.
Kids’ reactions to things like car accidents can be interesting. I remember when I was about your son’s age, my father was in a rather bad accident when his Subaru was hit by a police cruiser. Fortunately, Dad was not seriously hurt, but I remember my folks taking me to look at the wrecked Subaru a few days later. I was shocked, but at the same time, I was fascinated, and also I tried hard to contain my excitement that my parents might be buying a new car. Later on, I was annoyed when I found out that the insurance company would pay to repair the car instead (which was sort of ridiculous, even in hindsight).
But that accident of Dad’s (when I was 8) started an interest for me in auto accidents, and through my teenage years, I actually photographed and tried to reconstruct car accidents when I’d come across them. My folks thought that was sort of macabre, but I enjoyed the analysis part of it. If I had known that an Accident Investigator was actually a real profession, I probably would have looked into pursuing that as a career.
When I was 6 I was in my parents’ ’46 Jeep CJ-2A, which rolled. The add-on sheet metal top was destroyed. I sustained only a cut on my leg. By adult standards it wasn’t a real bad cut, but getting cut at all was not my idea of a good time.
“I had to pay for the crappy Toyota Corolla rental (sorry, Matt)”
No offense taken. 🙂 Renting a car is a real crap shoot. It doesn’t necessarily reflect the overall nature of a given car (though in the case of the rental Tempo I wrote about, I think it did!). Other people here at CC have had positive experiences renting Corollas.
I kept scrolling down as I read wondering, “man, I wonder what happened, as Adam seemed to like this car so much?” Then I saw the photo- OUCH. So glad you and your son were okay. When we wrecked the Celica all those years ago, one of the first responders who showed up was an EMT in training who also happened to be our close personal friend. As she told us, when she saw our car off the shoulder in the weeds, her heart sank. But fear turned to relief only a few moments later. Accidents can really mess with your head, even if you’re okay physically. When the Yaris was rear-ended, it took me several minutes to get my bearings, but the woman I hit was ready to take charge of the scene. But I absorbed about 90% of the impact.
The Cruze seems like a pretty decent car and I think leasing made perfect sense for you at the time. Still not sure I’d buy another GM product, however. Vega: 100% garbage. Saturn: decent enough, but crude. Other GMs I’ve driven have run the gamut from competent to crap-can. But none have stood out. Never drove the Cruze, though. Looking forward to read what replaced it.
Thanks Matt. There was nothing inherently wrong with the Corolla, but it was like the evil anti-Cruze. Where the Cruze was sporty, stylish and fun, the beige Corolla LE rental was stolid and bland. I was also a little bitter about everything, so I’m sure that factored in as well.
GM could always out-engineer and out-style Toyota, and that’s worked for them (as well as Ford and FCA) when times are good. But when the economy turns, people tend to play it safe and abandon the American automakers in droves.
“Stolid and bland…” interesting you use those words to describe a Corolla as those are the words I might have used to describe two GM rentals I drove in the the not-too-distant past. One that especially stands out (or maybe doesn’t stand out!) was the 2008 Impala we rented on a trip to Colorado. Nothing wrong with it, but it was about as meh as a car can get. But like I said, I never drove a Cruze or anything more recent from GM, for that matter. When a company turns out turd after turd, it’s hard to change your thinking, even if they eventually get it right.
I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of the 2008 Impala. I had one as a loaner and I couldn’t wait to give it back. I think the primary difference is that the ’08 Impala was 100% U.S. GM, while the Cruze was primarily designed in Korea and engineered in Germany. It’s effectively the best Daewoo ever.
I don’t paint all of Toyota with the broad brush, either. But that particular Corolla at that particular point in time just didn’t endear it to me.
Well said about the Cruze- it wasn’t the “same old GM” thanks to that other DNA.
Regarding the Corolla, I think I even mentioned in my write-up on ours that I still preferred driving our Yaris (and now the Scion). I think I’m just a “little car” junkie at heart!
You were lucky, being your young son in the car, and I’ll leave it at that.
Very much so. I can only image how things would have played out if we bought the 2009 Vibe or if I was driving out 2003. Even worse, if we still had the Grand Caravan.
Regardless the vehicle, you were the operator, and it boils down to operator error. You misjudged the cars you were dealing with as to their oncoming speed in relation to you, their distance to you, the gap between the two cars and whether said gap was a constant or closing.
One’s brain sometimes needs to calculate those variables very quickly and if not then give the situation a few seconds to pass to maintain safety. My rule has always been if one wants to play (risk) then one may need to pay when driving. A passenger, such as your son, would automatically negate the risk taking.
Sorry to be harsh but that happens during crash investigations. Everyone knows of that B-17 that crashed but how many now know that the crew has been faulted, maintenance faulted and the Collings Foundation faulted and so grounded.
Don’t get me wrong – I take full responsibility, and I believe I make that clear in the post. My comment is that I was fortunate to be driving a car that could withstand that kind of impact while keeping both my son and me safe. Had I been driving any of the other three cars I mentioned above, my son definitely would not have come away unscathed, and I may not have either.
For decades, until Nader and others helped forge a new design philosophy, the US auto industry focused safety discussions on “the nut behind the wheel,” refusing to face the fact that everyone makes mistakes. I am grateful for that change every time I get into a modern automobile. People just didn’t do well in accidents such as this one when I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. Adam, thank you for another reminder – great story.
Yep, it only took GM what, 30 years to get the class of car right, and then they drop it as soon as it becomes apparent that they’re going to have to fight against entrenched competition for sales.
Considering I grew up as a Chevy dealer’s kid, I have a very difficult time considering anything they produce anymore. They’re track record over the past fifty years (in anything other than trucks) is downright horrible.
Amen to that.
We got the Cruze in Holden flavour, lots of encouraging propaganda surrounded them when launched the print media fell over themselves praising them, but used values are proving something else, a really nice well cared for Cruze can be had for not a lot of money, the diesel version gained praise for its performance but having followed one on an uphill overtking lane getting past two slow truck/trailer combinations and having to lift off to avoid ramming said diesel Cruze while in my old 1905cc diesel Citroen I for one am unimpressed,Australian motoring jounalists running true to previous form P76, Camira, Magna, yes not to be trusted.
Glad your son was OK my brother had a crash recently he died his daughter remains in hospital having a lower leg re-attached, Melbourne CCers probably saw it on the news.
Wow, Bryce, I’m really sorry about your brother and niece.
Sorry to hear of your loss Bryce
That’s was a testimony to the design of the car that it took a 40mph impact for you and no one was permanently injured. I don’t think my last car would have done as well. I do like my 2019 Cruze LS that replaced it. The Cruze turned out to have a cheaper payment with incentives and rebates than the used car I first went to the lot to look at. It feels solid and safe and yes, it does feel sporty to drive. I haven’t gotten it out on some actual twisties, yet – just some highway miles but with this shutdown, I’m not getting out much.
Zero problems, rattles or niggling defects after a year – which completely blows the 2007 Cobalt LS 5 speed manual I bought 12 years ago away, I swore that car would be my last ever GM car until I drove the Cruze…the Cobalt was everything that a Deadly Sin from Chevy could be.
I’m glad you’re enjoying your Cruze. I don’t dislike the second generation Cruze – my main complaint is that it just didn’t have the “presence” of the first generation. Also, GM seems to be returning to the cheap interiors that plagued them in the ’90s and ’00s, even on their high-volume trucks, when everyone else is upping their interior game. I’m sure they’re saving money, but at what cost?
I enjoyed both your posts on the Cruze and sorry to see its early demise since you grew to like it!
My good friend bought an ‘11 Cruze “service” spec he called it right out of college. It was a very bare bones car similar to yours right down to the power train.
I had the pleasure of driving it back after he bought a project 4Runner a few hours away. I was very impressed! Quiet, solid, efficient, ok enough gearbox. He loved that car, too.
Unfortunately, also like yours, it was short lived. He owned it only about 2 years before a freak severe thunderstorm dropped 7” of rain one night. Parked out on the street near a backed up culvert the car took on a few inches of water inside. When everything dried out the insurance company totaled it for fear of electrical gremlins.
Several years ago, I test drove a new Cruze diesel, mainly to experience a diesel that wasn’t a pricey, high-maintenance German car, or a monster-truck. I was pleasantly surprised and very impressed with the performance and refinement of that Cruze.
I wasn’t so pleased with the spare-tire discarded to make room for the DE-fluid tank, some dash controls blocked by the shifter, and worst, the high cost to buy this car, including a mandatory premium trim-package and automatic tranny, which IIRC, pushed the price from around $18K for a base Cruze, to about $26K for the diesel version!
Happy Motoring, Mark
My, this has a rather different name here. (And literally too, being ofcourse the Holden Cruze).
It was the subject of no less than 13(!) recalls across its lifespan, and not for minor things either: failing driveshafts, seatbelts, engine fires. They then suffered a long litany of failures outside of that. Worst is the auto trans, which dies entirely. The a/c frequently, and again, entirely. ECU gremlins, coil pack failures, many oil cooler fails, turbo fails, engine fails (even on the 1.8). And even that 1.8 was essentially an ancient thing, reliable enough in earlier variations – I have one right now! – but old by the time and weight of the Cruze.
I drove a 1.8 manual, and I thought it was barely up the task (and my foot has lost most its lead now). Maybe I got a dud one, though it was criticised from new here by the press for bare-adequacy. You mention the average manual change: it wasn’t great, what I’d call FWD Opel-standard, ie: a bit a gearbag.
It did have appeal for the solidity, and it rode nicely and quietly, but I found the steering hyper-sensitve just off centre, and with long legs, I didn’t like the knee-up-mother-brown seating much either. Combine that with the gearbag and slack engine, I thought it reasonably unpleasant in traffic. Many liked the appearance (a syou did), but I can’t even warm to that, as I always found it very derivative.
I am glad for you that it crashed well, both for your wellbeing and because it may not have proved a nice longer-term proposition.
To any folk wanting to be righteous about your driving, I say two things.
One, that we have all done such a thing at some time, either by momentary distraction or misjudgement or impatience. The only difference is that the split second was in our favour, and no consequence followed. It is called the fallible human factor in driving. Racing drivers have died on the roads at their own hands, not always at speed either.
Two, that you’ve been brave enough to admit and write about it, which is to be applauded.
Thanks Justy. What happened was that I lost time: by the time car #1 passed, there was another car heading northbound. My failure was not looking both ways twice. I make sure to do that now.
Ouch! Glad you were all OK.
We’ve been through a nasty smash (in a rental car) and have no wish to do it again.
What a car, the Cruze, to evoke so much comment, mostly positive. Thanks to (5) star IIHS rating, no one was injured in the side impact. Re-enforcement around the doors and re-programing the airbag deployment, similar to what GM did to the Sonic models made after Feb 2015 is quite evident in the photos. Gratefully, (5) stars translated to no injuries in Adam’s case! There are, at this moment, several manuals available for <$10K. I know the 1.8L to be reliable as it took my wife and I to Prescott, AZ for a housesitting assignment in Oct-Nov of 2019. Our 2016 Sonic had the shiftable (6) spd auto, but my Cruze-to-be will have the six-speed manual. Even tho my annual mies are a very modest at 3.75-to ,at the most, 5K, I plan to select one that is worthy of a reasonable investment to fix wear and make it reliable, but certainly not a "project". This timely thread has been of great value. Cruze Owners Club is my next step.. Thnx to all for the insights. P.S. Is it remotely possibly, Adam's Cruze could have been rebuilt and still exists? I see so many late model Cruzes n Sonics with "rebuilt" titles.
Thanks Robert. Here’s the VIN if you want to see what became of it: 1G1PD5SH5B7183384
Mileage Source Details
2011 Original Manufacturer Manufactured in GENERAL MOTORS LLC
04-06-2011 NHTSA Recalls Steering | Steering:column
05-06-2011 NHTSA Recalls Steering:gear Box:shaft Sector
05-06-2011 NHTSA Recalls Power Train:automatic Transmission:gear Position Indication (prndl)
06-22-2012 NHTSA Recalls Engine And Engine Cooling
06-22-2012 NHTSA Recalls Fuel System, Gasoline:storage:tank Assembly:mounting
08-15-2013 NHTSA Recalls Service Brakes, Hydraulic:power Assist
07-05-2016 NHTSA Recalls Electrical System:ignition | Power Train:automatic Transmission:control Module (tcm, Pcm)
There is more to come….
1G1PD5SH5B7183384…..says “no accidents, no auction, no incidents…pretty much a dead end for a now a 9 year old vehicle. Thank your lucky stars..five of them to be exact, that you and your son were not injured. I enjoyed reading about the good side of your Cruze ownership. Be well.