Best & Worst Chevrolet Cruze Years

We've ranked each Chevrolet Cruze model for every generation so you can avoid picking the worst Chevrolet Cruze years and pick the best one.

In this ultimate manual, I’ll analyze all Chevrolet Cruze generations, revealing the finest Chevy Cruze years to purchase and the poorest Chevy Cruze years to avoid.

Leveraging data from trusted sources like NHTSA, Edmunds, and more, I’ve synthesized critical insights such as owner complaints and recalls for Chevy Cruze that potential buyers and enthusiasts need to know.

You’ll know exactly what year Chevy Cruze is the most reliable and which is the most problematic Chevy Cruze year to avoid.

So, let’s plunge right in.

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Table of ContentsShow

Chevrolet Cruze Generations

Introduced in 2008 globally and making its American debut in 2010 as a 2011 model, the Chevrolet Cruze was General Motors’ answer to the growing demand for fuel-efficient compact sedans. Known for its comfortable ride and roomy interior, the Cruze quickly became a staple in its segment.

For a more distinct perspective, I’ve tabulated the generations of the Chevrolet Cruze from its inception in 2011 to the latest model until it was finally discontinued in 2019.

GenerationYears
1st generation (J300)2011-2015
2nd generation (D2LC)2016-2019

Recognizing generational transitions can significantly impact a buyer’s decision, especially when selecting different model years.

Chevrolet Cruze Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

When we evaluate and categorize Chevrolet Cruze’s best and worst years, our rankings stem from comprehensive research of various factors, including but not limited to:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • Cars.com owner ratings

Next, you’ll find a graph presenting combined ratings from the sources above.

Chevrolet Cruze Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

Below, I’ve tabulated each best, neutral, and worst model year of the Chevy Cruze based on the accumulated data.

GenerationBest YearsWorst Years
1st generation (J300)20152011
2012
2013
2014
2nd generation (D2LC)2017
2018
2019
2016

“Neutral years” signify those middle-of-the-road model years, offering a balanced performance without significant highs or lows.

Certain factors, such as NHTSA recalls, can affect ratings negatively. A higher frequency of complaints and recalls diminishes the perceived reliability of the car for that specific year.

Now, let’s dive into the specifications of the Chevy Cruze’s best, neutral, and worst years.

Best & Worst Years for Chevrolet Cruze 1st Generation (2011-2015)

Chevrolet Cruze 1st generation 2011 model
The 2011 Chevy Cruze

Introduced in 2011, the Chevrolet Cruze marked Chevrolet’s significant leap into the competitive compact car segment.

2015 is Chevy Cruze’s best and most reliable year in this generation, while 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 received criticism for engine and transmission problems and thus are the Chevy Cruze years to avoid.

The Best Years: 2015

This generation’s best Chevy Cruze year – 2015- embodies Chevrolet’s response to prior years of feedback and issues. It’s the top-ranked first-gen Chevy Cruze model in Edmunds, J.D. Power and Cars.com.

Powering the 2015 Cruze were multiple engine options, including the efficient 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, producing a decent 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque, offering both manual and automatic transmission options.

With a design aimed at modern consumers and a keen focus on fuel efficiency, the Cruze offered a blend of 17 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.

This year also saw an updated infotainment system, advanced safety features such as blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alerts.

However, the 2015 Chevy Cruze was partially full of issues. Some owners reported minor electrical glitches, which were sporadic and less widespread than the earlier models.

The Worst Years: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 are Chevy Cruze years to avoid because of problems with the engine, transmission, and electrical system. Here are some 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 Chevy Cruze problems and recalls:

The 2011 Chevy Cruze’s fresh entry was marred by multiple recalls, with a significant one concerning the potential for oil leakage from the valve cover gasket and steering gear shaft issues. There were reports of transmission hesitations, jerking, and many complaints surrounding electrical problems.

The 2012 Chevy Cruze continued to grapple with engine and transmission problems. Electrical issues became more pronounced, with many users reporting the “Stabilitrak” light’s intermittent illumination.

The 2013 and 2014 Chevy Cruze also suffered from inherited problems, notably in the engine and transmission realms, which was evident in the car’s overall reliability scores and owner satisfaction ratings.

A particularly concerning recall was issued regarding a potential fracture in the front right half shaft, leading to power loss or potential rollaway when parked.

See NHTSA 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 Chevrolet Cruze recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Chevrolet Cruze 2nd Generation (2016-2019)

Chevrolet Cruze 2nd generation 2016 model
The 2016 Chevy Cruze

The second generation of Chevrolet Cruze was introduced in 2016, ushering in a new wave of design, efficiency, and technological improvements.

Later years of this generation – 2017, 2018, and 2019 are marked as the best Chevy Cruze years, while 2016 is the Cruze year to avoid.

The Best Years: 2017, 2018, 2019

What years of Chevy Cruze are reliable? 2017, 2018, and 2019 are Chevrolet Cruze’s best years in this generation.

The 2017 Chevy Cruze marked a crucial turning point for the Cruze. The model was available with a 1.4-liter turbo-four engine, renowned for its efficiency and improved power delivery.

Chevrolet also introduced an optional 1.6-liter turbodiesel engine. The fuel economy boasted 19 mpg for city driving and a commendable 47 mpg on highways.

Advanced technological features, such as an improved infotainment system with better smartphone integration, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist, were warmly welcomed by owners.

For the 2018 Chevy Cruze, trim levels saw the addition of the Hatchback variant. Safety features, such as forward collision warning and low-speed automatic emergency braking, were introduced.

The 2019 Chevy Cruze, like its two predecessors, received favorable ratings from J.D. Power, signifying a consistent improvement in owner satisfaction.

The Worst Years: 2016

With many NHTSA complaints and low ratings by previous owners, 2016 is the Chevy Cruze year you should avoid.

Soon after the 2016 Chevy Cruze’s introduction, reports of electrical system malfunctions started to emerge.

Owners pointed out issues related to the engine and transmission, with specific complaints highlighting a cracked thermostat housing unit that could leak coolant.

In addition to these mechanical problems, Chevrolet grappled with multiple recalls focusing on electrical issues and exterior lighting faults.

See NHTSA 2016 Chevrolet Cruze recalls and complaints.

Chevrolet Cruze Average Resale Values

Explore Chevrolet Cruze’s market performance journey with our graph showcasing its average resale values over the years.

Chevrolet Cruze Average List Price

Conclusion

Navigating through the Chevy Cruze’s history, it’s evident that some years shine brighter than others. I recommend gravitating towards the 2015 and 2017-2019 models for a blend of reliability and efficiency.

Have you had personal experiences with any of the best and worst Chevrolet Cruze years? Which year did you find to be the most reliable Cruze model?

Share your insights in the comments below!

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.