Vehicle Type: Compact Sedan

History/Description: Replacing the Cobalt and competing with the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla, the Chevrolet Cruze hit the Canadian market for model year 2011, riding a new European-based platform and hoping to attract customers with top notch efficiency, leading warranty coverage and overall value. With plenty of selection, the Cruze should make an ideal used sedan for a shopper after compact-car space and a pleasant all-around driving experience.

Look for OnStar, heated seats, a sunroof, automatic lights, and above-average at-hand storage facilities for keeping organized on the move. A full suite of advanced safety systems is on board, too.

Cruze has raked in numerous awards from automotive media and industry authorities around the world, earning recognition for safety, value, design, and even a “2011 Canadian Car of the Year” win from the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and even one of our own Mega Comparison Tests.

Engines/Trim: Look for an LT or LTZ trim grade if you’re after the top-line experience. Most copies of the Cruze in the used market will pack a 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder engine, or a 1.8L four-cylinder. Six-speed transmissions in either automatic or manual were available. The Cruze Eco, which came only with a manual transmission, featured revised aerodynamics, weight reduction, an exclusive final drive ratio, and other fuel-saving implements, and is exceptional on fuel. Notably, your writer achieved the best mileage he’s ever recorded, in a copy of this machine on a test a few years back.

What Owners Like: Common owner praise-points include a comfortable and pleasant ride, higher-than-expected onboard space, good throttle response and mileage from the small turbo engine, and a quiet and refined drive. Most owners say they’ve found their Cruze to be a good overall value.

What Owners Dislike: Typical gripes centre around some of the materials used to trim the Cruze’s cabin, lazy programming logic of the automatic transmission, and potentially uncomfortable seats. The manual transmission is difficult to stall and very forgiving, but driving enthusiasts wish for more bite from the clutch, and a more positive action from the shifter.

Here’s a selection of owner reviews.

The Test Drive: On board, smell for any unpleasant odors, possibly masked with Febreze. Owners have complained of a burnt sugar smell, which could indicate a coolant leak under the hood, or in the vehicle’s heater core, as well as earthy or ‘dirty-sock’ odors, caused by moisture buildup in the HVAC system that results in mildew. Blocked moisture drain tubes may be to blame for the latter issue, and your Chevrolet dealer may offer a mold/mildew cleaning kit to remedy the problem. If you detect any unpleasant smells, have a mechanic check the cooling system and HVAC system for signs of problematic leaks.

Some additional reading here and a list of Chevrolet Cruze smells, and their sources and solutions, here.

Connect with