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2012 Chevrolet Cruze Review

The 2012 Chevy Cruze has great safety scores, an upscale interior, pleasant handling, and refined engine options. However, the Cruze’s reliability rating and ownership costs keep it in the middle of the compact car class.

Pros & Cons

  • Premium interior
  • Fuel-efficient turbo engine
  • Fun to drive
  • Hesitant automatic transmission

Rankings & Awards

The 2012 Chevrolet Cruze's #11 ranking is based on its score within the 2012 Compact Cars category. It was the winner of our 2012 Best Compact Cars for the Money award. Currently the Chevrolet Cruze has a score of 8.4 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 60 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 9.0
Performance: 8.4
Interior: 8.5
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.4
Safety: 9.8
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2012 Chevrolet Cruze Overview

Is the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze a Good Used Car?

The 2012 Chevy Cruze is a decent option if you’re in the market for a used compact car. It’s fun to drive, and it soaks up rough roads nicely. Its interior has a premium look and feel. The Cruze also rates well for crash safety, and its fuel-efficient engines scoot the sedan along briskly. The one area where the Cruze blends into the pack is reliability. Before you buy, consider alternatives with better reliability ratings, such as the 2012 Honda Civic, Volkswagen Golf, and Toyota Corolla.

Compare the Cruze, Civic, and Corolla »

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve analyzed 60 Chevy Cruze reviews, as well as hard data points like reliability scores and cost of ownership estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our team has decades of experience in the auto industry. Though we’re passionate about cars, we’re even more committed to providing helpful consumer advice. To maintain objectivity, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies.

How Much Is the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze?

You can expect to pay between $6,000 and $12,000 for a used 2012 Cruze. These figures are based on listings for the 2012 Chevy Cruze on our site. The average price is $8,800. Prices vary depending on the vehicle's condition, mileage, features, and location.

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How Much Does the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze Cost to Own?

The Cruze’s five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be $23,100 – or about $4,600 per year. That’s average for a compact car.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Cruze?

You can save a lot of money with a used 2012 Cruze. That said, the 2019 Chevy Cruze is a much better car – and it’s worth the extra cash. Starting at $17,995, this new Cruze boasts higher-quality materials and offers many of the latest tech and safety features, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and forward collision warning. You can pair a new Cruze with a very efficient diesel engine that nets up to 31/48 mpg, and it’s available as a hatchback – a very practical body style that the 2012 Cruze doesn’t offer.

Read about the new Chevrolet Cruze »

There aren’t any options if you’d prefer to buy a new car for less than a used 2012 Cruze, but there are some good choices if you can stretch your budget a little. The 2018 Kia Rio starts at $13,900, and it impresses with a handsome interior and agile handling. Starting at $15,295, the 2018 Chevy Sonic is fun to drive and it comes packed with standard tech features.

See the Best New Car Deals »

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Which Model Year of the Chevrolet Cruze Is Best?

The Cruze’s first generation covers the 2011 through 2015 model years. If you’re buying a pre-owned Cruze from this generation, you’ll want to stick to the later 2013 to 2015 models. These cars have a better reputation for reliability and they offer more advanced features like a rearview camera and blind spot monitoring. It’s also worth noting that a diesel engine – capable of 27 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway – was available for the 2014 and 2015 Cruze models, but it offers no fuel savings compared to the more common Cruze Eco model.

Compare the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Cruze »

How Reliable Is the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze?

J.D. Power gives the 2012 Cruze a reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Read more about Cruze reliability »

2012 Chevrolet Cruze Recalls

The 2012 Cruze is affected by five recalls. Chevrolet is recalling models due to defects with the ignition switch, brake booster, fuel tank, engine heat shield, and the driver-side front airbag. Make sure these recalls have been addressed before buying a used Chevy Cruze.

See more information on Chevrolet Cruze safety recalls »

Which Used Chevrolet Cruze Model Is Right for Me?

The 2012 Cruze sedan is available in five trim levels: LS, 1LT, Eco, 2LT, and LTZ. The base LS model is a good value thanks to its many standard features. It comes equipped with satellite radio, a CD player, six speakers, OnStar telematics, air conditioning, cloth seats, power windows and door locks, and remote keyless entry.

That said, we suspect most shoppers will find the well-equipped 1LT trim more attractive. It adds a zippier turbocharged engine, cruise control, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, a USB port, alloy wheels, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Cruze Eco trim has modifications that yield higher fuel economy. The Cruze 2LT adds leather seats, heated front seats, and a sport-tuned suspension. Lastly, the Cruze LTZ trim adds parking sensors, a remote car starter, auto climate control, proximity keyless entry, and push-button start.

Available features include a sunroof, nine-speaker stereo, and a touch-screen navigation system.

See 2012 Chevrolet Cruze trims and specs »

How Safe Is the Cruze?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2012 Chevy Cruze a Top Safety Pick. It received the second-lowest rating of Marginal for the small overlap front test, but a top rating of Good in all other areas tested. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Cruze a perfect five-star rating for overall, front, and side impact crash safety. The car earned four stars for rollover safety. The Cruze is available with rear parking sensors.

See Cruze safety scores »

2012 Chevrolet Cruze Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze or 2012 Ford Focus?

Skip the 2012 Ford Focus. While the Focus offers high fuel economy estimates and zippy handling, it’s let down by a clunky automatic transmission and poor reliability. The Cruze is a better buy.

Which Is Better: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze or 2012 Hyundai Elantra?

The 2012 Hyundai Elantra is a compelling alternative to the Cruze. Both cars offer great fuel economy, a comfortable ride, roomy trunk space, and quality interior materials. Both also rate well for crash safety. Test drive both to see which you prefer.

Compare the Cruze, Focus, and Elantra »

2012 Cruze Performance

How Does the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze Drive?

The Cruze is available with two engine options: a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 138 horsepower, and a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder with 138 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive are standard; a six-speed automatic transmission is available. Both engines can scoot the Cruze around town with sufficient pep, but the turbocharged engine – found in LT, Eco, and LTZ trims – is a bit more enjoyable. It provides zippier acceleration and better muscle for merging or passing at highway speeds. The Cruze’s manual transmission is a breeze to shift. The six-speed automatic is okay, but it’s sometimes hesitant to downshift when needed.

In the compact car class, the Cruze is one of the more enjoyable cars to drive. Its power steering is light and precise, and the brakes slow the car down confidently. The Cruze feels well-controlled when rounding turns. Its suspension yields a cushioned and comfortable ride as well, though the larger wheels found on the 2LT and LTZ trims dial this ride quality back slightly.

Does the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze Get Good Gas Mileage?

The Cruze Eco gets an EPA-estimated 28 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway when paired with its manual transmission (26/38 mpg city/highway, automatic). That’s excellent for a compact car. The LT and LTZ models earn a still-impressive 26/37 mpg (26/36 mpg, automatic). The Cruze LS drops these ratings a bit lower to 25/35 mpg (22/34 mpg, automatic).

Read more about Cruze performance »

2012 Cruze Interior

How Many People Does the 2012 Cruze Seat?

The Cruze is a four-door sedan with five seats. Accommodations are roomy up front – even for taller drivers and passengers – and the hip-hugging seatbacks provide good lateral support. The snafu is that the lower seat cushions are slim, and they can be uncomfortable on long trips. Rear seat space is on par with most other cars in this segment. Kids and younger teens should find ample backseat space, though adults may wish for more legroom. Cloth upholstery is standard; leather seats and heated front seats are available.

The Cruze has an especially quiet interior for a small car. It looks rather classy as well, thanks to its clean design and many soft-touch materials. Look beyond the dashboard, though, and you will find quite a few hard and cheap plastics.

How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze?

The Cruze has two full sets of LATCH connectors for securing child car seats.

2012 Chevrolet Cruze Features

Every 2012 Cruze comes equipped with satellite radio, a CD player, keyless entry, power windows, OnStar (roadside assistance), and air conditioning. Available features include Bluetooth, a USB port, a nine-speaker stereo, and a 7-inch touch screen navigation system.

The Cruze’s climate controls are about as simple as they get; there’s just two dials and a few buttons. The audio and infotainment functions are a bit trickier. These are controlled using a variety of dashboard buttons and – if equipped – an available touch screen. It takes some time to master.

See 2012 Chevrolet Cruze specs »

Read more about Cruze interior »

2012 Chevrolet Cruze Dimensions

Chevrolet Cruze Cargo Space

The Cruze has a roomy 15.4 cubic feet of trunk space. The rear seats can fold to fit longer items.

2012 Cruze Length and Weight

The Cruze is 15.1 feet long. Its weight varies between 3,082 to 3,155 pounds, depending on configuration.

Where Was the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze Built?

Chevrolet built the 2012 Cruze in Ohio.


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