Thinking of buying a used holden Cruz? Think again.

You’re looking at one of the worst cars on Australian roads. A car with an appalling recordon safety and reliability. A car that encapsulates everything wrong about the local car industry. If you ever wondered what a lemon looks like, this, simply, is it. The Holden Cruz.
Holden spent decades and billions of dollars building the red lion brand into something Australians trusted and loved. And it worked. We did love football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars… Even if that slogan was a direct rip-off of the US campaign that loved baseball, hot dogs, apple pies and Chevrolet – True story.

But, this century, General Motors has has burnt the Holden brand. Like, somebody left the tumble drier on in Dresden. Again. Today, Holden is well on the way to becoming the country’s third major South Korean car company: the one without the five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. And the Cruze is the – unappetising – shape of things to come from this once-great brand. Don’t believe me? Stick around.

It’s probably not a great comfort, but you’re certainly not alone, Farah. There’s a tsunami of evidence that the Holden Cruze is one of the worst-engineered cars in Australia. In the world, actually. Holden has an appalling record for quality in its own right, and it has had for years. That’s independently verified from leaked car industry research by ACNeilsen. Strike One.

The Holden Cruze is a globally engineered car that hasn’t changed fundamentally since it was first introduced. That means it kicked off as a hastily re-badged Daewoo, and is now pretty much a locally made, hastily re-badged Daewoo assembled in South Australia with 60 per cent imported components by a factory losing millions of dollars annually, owned by a subsidiary that’s owned by General Motors, which went bankrupt in the global financial crisis. So it’s had, essentially, a profound track record of financial mismanagement and as a result, no resources to expend in research and development for at least four years. Strike Two. 


Now let’s talk about the Cruze-specific problems: Most problems with cars don’t have to be documented and publicly oxygenated in Australia – there’s no such requirement, no official register of lemons, sadly – but the safety ones do need to be noted officially. And those safety issues are a barometer of just how bad the Holden Cruze’s underlying engineering really is, more broadly. Just bear in mind that there are plenty of Holden Cruze design defects that don’t get listed officially because they’re not safety related. The full list of safety-related defects is at the Federal Government’s ‘’ website, which is administered by the ACCC.

The Cruze is, frankly, beset on all sides by the inequities of under-done engineering. It’s the embodiment of ‘how not to’ build a car.


Automotive recalls are listed at the Federal Government’s website. These are snapshots of those recalls from the ACCC.

(Click to enlarge)

  • In 2010, 10,462 Cruzes were recalled because of a potential fire risk arising from a defective fuel hose. 
  • In 2011, 4236 Cruzes were recalled because the rear seatbelts potentially weren’t assembled properly. And, just for fun, 6512 diesel Cruzes were also recalled because of another potential fuel system engineering defect that could cause a fire. 
  • Then in 2012 an unspecified number of locally built Cruze 1.4 turbo petrol cars were recalled because of yet another engineering defect that could potentially see them catch fire. That was probably a big recall, because the VIN code range covered 23,616 vehicles in the 2012 model year and another 1673 vehicles in 2013.
  • And then, just to keep the defect magic alive well into 2013 an unspecified number of Cruzes with 1.8-litre engines and manual transmissions were recalled because the right-hand tubular driveshaft could potentially fracture without warning. Yet another major engineering defect that could, this time, see you drive head-on into a B-double.
  • And still people ask me about buying this dog of a car: