The Chevy Cruze sedan was a sporty small car sold by Chevrolet until its discontinuation in 2019. With a stylish appearance and relatively roomy interior, it initially seemed like an improvement over Chevy’s previous compact cars like the Cavalier and Cobalt. Unlike many other compact cars, the Cruze felt solid and safe. But the first-generation models, including the 2014 Chevy Cruze, soon exhibited problems.
Here’s a look at the various Chevy Cruze problems that make this sedan the worst Chevrolet vehicle you could buy.
The 1st-generation Chevy Cruze sedan
Chevrolet produced the first-generation Chevy Cruze from 2011 to 2015. The base model was the LS, featuring a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine producing 138 hp. Other trim levels — including the LT, 2LT, ECO, and LTZ — offered a 1.4-liter turbo-four.
For the 2014 Chevy Cruze and subsequent 2015 model, the automaker added a 151-hp turbodiesel engine to the 2.0TD and DIESEL trims. In addition, the first-generation Cruze offered a six-speed manual transmission for the LS, LT, and ECO trims.
The sedan had decent features, such as a USB, which became standard in the 2013 model. Buyers couldn’t get cruise control in the LS base models, but it was standard in the other models moving up the trim ladder. The one caveat is that consumers could have added a connectivity package to the 2011 model’s base configuration. Bluetooth connectivity was standard on all trim levels beginning with the 2013 model.
Also, 18-inch alloy wheels came on the LTZ trim only. A spare tire and jack were options in the 2011 models but not available in all ECO versions. The cars offered a quiet ride and mostly responsive handling.
2014 Chevy Cruze problems and more
According to a ranking of 87 Chevrolet generations by their reliability ratings on ChevroletProblems.com, the first-generation Chevy Cruze sedans from 2011 to 2015 ranked dead last. What Chevy Cruze problems make this car the worst Chevrolet model to buy?
Leaking water pumps
For starters, the 1.4-liter-engine models exhibited instances of leaking water pumps. The leaks caused the air conditioning to stop working and overheated the car. The problem was severe enough that General Motors issued a service bulletin in January 2015 for 2011 to 2014 models with that engine. GM extended the warranty coverage for the issue to 10 years or 150,000 miles, whichever came first. The repair involved replacing the water pump.
Defective PCV diaphragms
Owners also reported defective PCV diaphragms in the valve cover. There were also instances of missing air check valves in the intake manifold that caused numerous problems with the 1.4-liter turbo. The issues resulted in blue smoke from the exhaust, excessive oil use, and a rough idle — triggering the check engine light. There were cases of faulty PCV pipes too.
In some cases, repairs involved replacing the intake manifold. In others, the valve cover needed replacing. Either way, the repair could cost several hundred dollars.
Also, the 2014 Chevy Cruze and other first-generation models reportedly had oil leaks from the engine, cooler lines, and transmission seals. Coolant leaks caused problems requiring the thermostat housing to be replaced. In addition, trunk release switch issues, though inexpensive to fix, could cause quite a few headaches.
Faulty ignition coils
Then there were faulty ignition coils that caused misfires. The earlier first-gen models even experienced complete transmission failure.
Loose negative battery cables
Another GM service bulletin reported electrical problems from loose negative battery cables. The issue caused the display to turn on and off randomly. It also caused problems with the anti-lock brake system, service traction system, and other components.
The final verdict on the Chevy Cruze sedan
Because of the many issues with the 2014 Chevy Cruze and other first-generation models from 2011 to 2015, Consumer Reports rates the car worse than average for reliability. However, Chevrolet addressed many of the problems through improved warranties or recalls.
Regardless, shoppers in the market for a used sporty compact car might do well to look elsewhere. For instance, the Toyota Corolla, Toyota Prius, Honda Civic, and Mazda3 are arguably better choices.
But if your heart is still set on a used first-generation Chevy Cruze, consider one with the 1.8-liter engine because it had far fewer problems than the 1.4-liter turbo. Or check out later models, such as the 2016 hatchback.