By Wayne Gorrett
The Orlando is Chevrolet’s first foray into a busy British MPV market. It’s a spacious, practical, everyday car that offers great value for money.
PROS > Good space for 5 grown-ups and two halves, comfortable throughout, powerful diesel engine, inexpensive to buy and own.
CONS > Limited versatility, firm ride, some cheap-looking interior plastics
☀ ☀ ☀
While not its primary market, Chevrolet regards Europe as a very important part of the world for its cars. As a result, they have worked overtime to give the current range a spot of Euro flair and feel. One of the better results of those efforts will be the Trax SUV, arriving this summer. Another – and currently available – is the Chevrolet Orlando, a solid value-for-money alternative to mainstream European MPVs and arguably the best driving car of the current Chevrolet UK line-up.
The Orlando defines cheap and cheerful, as far as MPVs are concerned. Perhaps understandably, it’s not the most dynamically accomplished or desirable family mover, but it’s certainly one of the most affordable ways into seven-seat people-shifting currently available in the UK. It’s comfortable, spacious, and Chevrolet’s Five-Year Promise means you’re sorted for aftercare for the first half a decade and 100,000 miles of ownership, which is hard to knock. It goes head-to-head with rivals like Citroen’s C4 Grand Picasso, Mazda’s 5 and the WAG twins SEAT Alhambra and VW Sharan. While its chunky looks won’t appeal to everyone, the Orlando is appealingly different to pretty much anything in its class.
MPVs and diesels are a perfect match and the Orlando reinforces the belief. Chevrolet has chosen a very respectable 2.0-litre common-rail diesel engine for the Orlando, available in two states of tune – 128bhp as tested and 158bhp. Delivering 315Nm of torque at only 2,000rpm, the 128bhp variant packs plenty of grunt and feels pleasantly punchy once the turbo kicks in.
Unlike some diesel power plants, one thing you won’t have to put up with is shoddy mechanical refinement. The 2.0-litre diesel is much more refined than you might expect. It remains relatively quiet and smooth even at high revs, and although it does begin to get breathless above 4,000rpm, you’ll hardly ever need much more than 3,000rpm in daily driving.
Ride and Handling
While we had the requested 2.0 diesel on test, we had an opportunity to drive the 1.8 petrol variant. The punchy, efficient diesels are the ones to go for, while the sluggish and inefficient petrol units are best left on the shelf. The 2.0-litre diesel is available in two states of tune – 128bhp and 161bhp, offering 315Nm and 360Nm of torque respectively. Our 128bhp unit was well up to the arduous task of shifting itself, our extended family and faux ‘luggage’ around our 102-mile south Hampshire test route, returning 38.8mpg – or a disappointing 72% of the official combined figure of 53.3mpg. The diesel Orlando excels on the motorway, where it’s quiet and refined, but it’s appreciably grippy in corners, too, with less body roll than you would begrudgingly expect of an MPV. The steering is light and relatively sharp but offers little feedback as to the goings-on up front.
The Orlando rides on GM’s Global Delta platform, the same hardware that underpins the Cruze – and that’s a good thing. Like the Cruze, Orlando is gentle-riding, surprisingly well isolated from the road and wind, robust in feel, and well-sorted where ride and handling are concerned. The Orlando boast above-average levels of road-noise isolation and a premium suspension feel. The engine is nicely hushed, moves things along adequately, and transmits near-nil levels of vibration or harshness back into the cabin.
Behind the Wheel
The steering wheel adjusts for both rake and reach and, with seat height adjustment, most drivers will be able to get comfortable. However, it can take time to get the backrest exactly where you want it because you have to pull a lever and shift your weight. Forward vision is good but we found the thick A-pillars made visibility an issue at junctions and roundabouts. Some of the dash controls aren’t particularly intuitive but, like most things, are fine when you get used to them.
Space and Practicality
The Orlando’s external appearance belies a spacious and practical interior. There’s an awful lot of room in the first two rows, while kids and moody teens will like the remote independence of the third. However, because row two is split 60/40 instead of into three individual seats, the Orlando isn’t as flexible as the best MPVs. Both parts are designed to tumble forward so you can get to the rear from either side of the car. Well-considered touches include a ‘secret’ compartment in the centre dash concealed behind the opening infotainment panel. It contains the aux and USB inputs and as a consequence, when used for that purpose, hides an iPhone or other portable unit from unsavoury eyes. Neat.
Entry-level Orlando LS models come with air-con, electric windows and door mirrors, remote central locking and three 12v power sockets, but you have to upgrade to the tested LT trim to get parking sensors, alloy wheels and (non-dual zone) climate control. LTZ trim adds cruise control, automatic lights and wipers and ambient interior lighting.
Each Orlando variant comes with stability control and front-, side- and curtain airbags, although it’s worth noting that the curtain ’bags don’t extend far enough back to protect the delicates in the third row. The car achieved a five-star crash rating from Euro NCAP. On the security front, deadlocks and an immobiliser are standard across the range, and models with alloys also have locking wheel nuts.
A five-year, 100,000-mile warranty comes as standard, and includes a servicing package and roadside assistance to ensure hassle-free ownership. This is currently bettered only by Kia’s seven-year deal. Chevrolet’s reputation for customer satisfaction and sturdy build quality is improving every year and the Orlando is a step in the right direction. Being a value-for-money brand, some of this Chevrolet’s interior plastics feel flimsy, but the mechanicals are built to last – and last they likely will.