Chevrolet Orlando: a lot of car for the money

You certainly get quite a lot of car for your money with the Chevrolet Orlando. For a price range that starts at £16,410 you get a sizeable MPV with three rows of seats taking a maximum of seven people.

That’s almost £3,000 less than the starting price for Ford’s offering in this class, the Ford Grand C-Max. Sure, you get seven seats on the Vauxhall Zafira, for a starting price of just under £14,000, but the Orlando is significantly bigger.

Chevrolet Orland

Right away we should be clear that the Chevrolet may wear a famous American badge on that bar across the middle of the front grille. However, like so many present-day Chevrolets, this one arrives in the UK from the east, not the west. Chevrolet is GM’s low-cost brand and, like most of the smaller Chevrolets, it is the product of what was Daewoo in Korea.

First impressions are that you do get a great deal of space and practicality in the Orlando. It has a stance reminiscent of an off-roader. Given the popularity of SUVs, I am sure that is entirely intentional. It also makes getting in and out of this relatively tall vehicle particularly easy.

Once installed in the driver’s seat the Orlando is quite a comfortable place to be. Round the back, legroom is adequate rather than ample in the second row of seats. At the back the flat load floor hides two additional seats. When not in use the loadspace is 454 litres, extendable to 1499 litres when the second row of seats is folded.

Chevrolet Orlando interior

In use, this third row of seats requires some agility and small dimensions (think child) to get into (or out of). There is also the need for a bit of fiddling to fold the second row to allow access. As so often with vehicles like this, I was also rather concerned at just how close these seats put their occupants to the tailgate and any potential rear-end accident.

One area that has improved on the Orlando is the interior finish. The interior ambience may still be a few notches down from the best of the European offerings. But, as you can see in the photograph it looks quite good. Yes, you can tell that the trim, graphics and LEDs are towards the budget end of the scale. But, then, the price is also at the budget end of the scales, so who is complaining?

A minor, but annoying problem during the cold weather of my test was the amount of condensation that built up inside the car and on the inside of the windscreen. Judging by the back-of-hand swirl marks on the glass, I was not the only one to find this problem.

My test car was the Chevrolet Orlando 2.0 VCDi LT, which costs £18,765 (there is also a more powerful 163PS two-litre diesel which is only available on the LT when it is fitted with the auto box).

These days you expect a car to start first turn of the starter (even if there is a short automatic delay on diesels). The test Orlando was the first car I have driven for some considerable time, where it usually took two turns of the starter to get things fired up. I have no way of knowing if this is normal on the Orlando or a result of a programming fault.

Initially a little raucous when cold, the diesel soon settles down and is notably quiet and lacking in harshness or vibration when warmed up. Out on the road, the Orlando rides well on good surfaces, but it does bump and thump a bit on the increasing number of undulations, ridges and potholes of our deteriorating tarmac.

Chevrolet Orlando

The gearbox is by no means the slickest, being rather notchy in its movement. I also found the engine would sometimes ‘bog down’ when you take off from standstill, ruining your smooth-driving reputation with passengers.

While the steering manages the neat trick of being light when manoeuvring, yet weighting up more for the open road, it seemed disappointingly lifeless. As a result I found it took conscious effort to work out where the front wheels were and what they were doing. More feedback would make this a more rewarding car to drive. All that is a bit of a shame because the body control and the handling of the Orlando are otherwise good.

Progress is reasonably rapid for a diesel MPV, with acceleration quoted at 9.9 seconds 0-62 mph, with a top speed of 112 mph.

The official combined fuel economy is 47.1 mpg and I found it settled down on my mixture of town and country driving to about 36 mpg overall. Carbon dioxide emissions are 159 g/km. So, neither the economy, nor the emissions figures are particularly outstanding by modern standards.

If you are looking for practical family transport that can accommodate four or five with a lot of luggage, or six or seven people (where the rearmost two are small and pliable), then the Chevrolet Orlando will offer you a lot for your money. If, however, you are looking for a higher degree of finesse and more reward from your driving, then you will probably want to up the budget and look elsewhere.
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