What is the Chevrolet Orlando?
Think of the Orlando as Chevrolet’s answer to those family haulers that put versatility way ahead of style and driving fun. What this car lacks in style, it more than makes up for by offering affordable, practical motoring for a family of seven, backed by an impressive package of aftercare which makes it better value for money still.
The Orlando competes with models such as the Renault Grand Scenic, the Ford Grand C-Max and Citroën C4 Grand Picasso. Like those, it features seven seats and the rear chairs can be folded away, flush into the floor. The squared-off, upright stance creates generous cabin space, and the straightforward range of petrol and diesel engines available is ideally suited to this price level.
The price is very competitive too, with our pick, the 130bhp turbo diesel in mid-range LT trim, costing £19,165. But arguably its winning feature is Chevrolet’s package of aftercare, which comprises a five-year warranty, free servicing and roadside assistance. That’s not to be sniffed at, as even if you intend to sell the car after three or four years it can help ensure its appeal come resale time.
The main area that lets down the Orlando is its stiff ride comfort. That may help minimise body roll through bends and promote a feeling that the car is surefooted, but for most of the time it grates passengers because it’s so unyielding. But if you can forgive it that, the rest of the driving experience is good. The steering is surprisingly direct, the manual gearbox is easy to use and the brakes feel up to the job of safely slowing down a fully laden Orlando from speed.
Few drivers of this type of car will throw it around with abandon, but the roadholding is relatively accomplished. There are no hidden vices and it stays flat through bends and the tyres offer a surprising amount of grip. As for the engine, the 130bhp version of the 2.0 VCDi could do with a touch more torque low down in its rev range, as you have to consciously keep it revving over 2000rpm to make reasonable progress. There is a higher-powered diesel engine, but the 130bhp delivers enough for most drivers most of the time. The fuel economy of 47.1mpg is respectable for this class.
The Orlando misses a trick by not having rear doors that slide open and close on rails; those that do, including the Ford Grand C-Max and Mazda5, are easier to live with thanks to great accessibility. You also have to contend with a luggage cover that is awkwardly located between the second and third row of seats and is plain annoying.
There are seven seats, but in the middle row two of these are joined, creating a split/fold arrangement, and they don’t slide independently of one another. That robs the Orlando of a final flourish of versatility and comfort. The rearmost seats are relatively spacious, so adults could use them for shorter trips, and children would be perfectly comfortable. As for the boot, well, like most seven-seater MPVs, it shrinks to a measly 89 litres with all seven in use, but is a usefully large 453 litres with the rear two seats folded away.
The driving position is lower than in some MPVs, which enhances that feeling of the Orlando being quite agile on the move, and with reach and height adjustment for the steering wheel and height adjustment for the seat, the great majority of drivers should get comfortable. Cubby holes abound and there’s even an extra mirror that allows mum or dad keep an eye on the kids in the back every time they check their rear view mirror.
Buying a used Chevrolet Orlando
The Orlando is fairly old tech and not overly complex, while most of its components are pinched from other cars across the global GM range. There do appear to have been problems with the automatic gearbox; one owner reports that he needed a new one at just 7,000 miles, and that the original fault returned on the replacement box 2,000 miles later. Owners have also complained of power loss from the higher-power diesel engine (possibly related to the turbocharger), a clogged-up exhaust particulate filter (in diesels used mainly for short-distance urban driving) and jerky braking (possibly a fault with the antilock system), as well as glitches in the sat nav. Most owners, nonetheless, seem happy with their lot.
Chevrolet dealers are rated poorly for their after-sales support ‒ 27 out of 27 in the 2012 JD Power dealership satisfaction survey, which rather undermines the five-year warranty that Chevy provides.
The One to Buy
Chevrolet Orlando 2.0 VCDI (130) LT
- £19,165 (correct at first publication)
- 1998cc, four-cylinder diesel
- 128bhp @ 3800rpm
- 232 lb ft @ 2000rpm
- 6-speed manual
- 0-62mph in 10.3sec
- Top Speed:
- Road Tax Band:
- L 4214mm, W 1684mm, H 1607mm