Orlando via Brittany

Posted on: 02 September 2011 by Gareth Hargreaves

The Chevrolet Orlando offers maximum practicality for price-conscious drivers. We put it through its paces in the French countryside.

Chevrolet OrlandoEntering an already crowded MPV market, the Chevrolet Orlando is muscling in on established marques such as the Vauxhall Zafira, Renault Grand Scenic, Ford Grand C-Max, Citroën C4 Picasso, Fiat Multipla and the Volkwagen Touran. However, in doing so, Chevrolet has twigged that offering maximum practicality doesn’t mean mimicking the boring boxiness of its rivals.

For anyone who has been on a family holiday and used the car, the exercise of packing provides a good benchmark of how flexible your vehicle is.

MPVs have grown in popularity in recent years not because they are particularly exciting to drive, but because they cope well with school runs, days out for large group,  offer perversely good value and are second to none when it comes to stowing luggage, spouses, your children and grandchildren.

Orlando cabinOn road handling

With all that in mind, I was happy to take this medium-sized MPV on a tour of the Brittany countryside with three generations aboard. The Orlando didn’t disappoint; it handles the road like no other MPV in this class, and doesn’t ride at all like a people carrier! The twisting back roads of the ‘Bison Fute’ were a perfect test of the car’s smooth ride: the steering is accurate and assured even when carrying such a load, offering none of the top-heavy roll associated with the Zafira.  

It has to be said the 1.8-litre petrol with a five-speed manual gearbox is not the best; it will carry you comfortably from A to B, but will struggle when you need to put your foot down. And, perhaps harking back to its gas-guzzling US roots, it works up a thirst at the petrol pump - a better option would be the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel available with 128 or 161bhp.

Orlando folding seatsMaterial world

The interior is spacious and comfortable, with second and third row seating being surprisingly generous for travelling adults. Getting in and out of the car, it is clear Chevy has done its homework: the five doors are much better than the side-sliding doors of the Ford CMax. The seating is also reassuringly flexible with both rear and middle seats offering numerous combinations that fold into the floor with little effort.

The dashboard and panels are current and easy to read. If I had any grumbles about the features, it would be that the stereo is built into the dash, preventing future upgrades. However, the standard unit includes lots of welcome features including Bluetooth, MP3 and USB playback and also a flip-face storage space where you can store your iPod and other mobile devices.

The steering wheel is easily adjusted to suit your driving position, though some elements of the dashboard instrument panel can be obscured as a result - this can be distracting when you're trying to stay on the legal side of the speed cameras of the local Gendarmerie. These, though, are minor quibbles and the experience  in the ample driving seat is overall very positive.

Air conditioning, adjustable mirrors and park assist come as standard. The latter is a must as visibility through the rear window is limited by the D-pillar.

The interior fit and finish is commendable with none of the cheap nylon interiors of its rivals. The quality plastics and brushed aluminium-look are stylish and appealing and there are plenty of storage spaces both in the forward cabin and rear seating areas.

Chevrolet Orlando front grillFormidable front end styling

The bonnet and grill of the Orlando are very muscular, carrying the distinctive bow-tie Chevrolet badge. Somehow, even after filling seven seats, it doesn’t look or feel like an MPV. Its lines are sleek and it isn’t until you get to the rear end, which isn’t as pretty as it could have been, that you feel at all let down by its looks.  


This is a solid, flexible car that comes in with a seriously attractive on-road price, though - inevitably -  you will need to spend more to get the engine size and spec you want.

However, even the entry level car comes with electronic stability control (ESC), air-con, electric windows and mirrors, and remote locking. Add to this the full Chevrolet after-care package, with its five-year warranty, servicing, breakdown and MoT insurance cover, and it is clear how this car is going to appeal to an audience who want a no-nonsense, reliable motor.  

LT 1.8
1796cc four-cylinders petrol, with five-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive
Price/on sale £17,510 (range from £14,995)/spring
Top speed 114mph
Acceleration 0-60mph in 11.6sec
Fuel economy 29.1mpg EU Urban
CO2 emissions 172g/km

For more detail on the Orlando, visit Chevrolet.co.uk

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