People Carriers, Shuttles, Battle Buses, Family Wagons… all names referring to the chunky and arguably most difficult to design (and make look good) cars in the motoring world…the MPV. The ability to seat 7 people in comfort including luggage has always seemed a challenge for many manufacturers, some ultimately producing gas guzzling, heavy machines that steer as tight as cruise liners and have about as much appeal as watching The Biggest Loser eating KFC (before the competition).
Many manufacturers saw 7-seat SUVs as the answer, offering off-roader styling, others just converted their commercial vans to seat up to 8. So who does make an attractive MPV? Well not having made one before – Chevrolet present to us the Orlando, a 7-seat MPV that is attractive and practical at the same time.
Paris proved fruitful for the Chevrolet brand, an event that saw them unveiling many cars, the main focus of which was the Orlando. Named after the Florida County itself the Orlando suits the needs of a typical MPV while achieving a rather urban style, making it one of the more attractive MPVs I’ve driven, proving that Chevrolet know what they are doing when it comes to creating new cars for a well established market.
From the outside, upon first impressions I wasn’t too keen, however in the flesh it’s definitely more funky than frumpy. The monster grille looks tall and imposing, rounded off with chunky headlights and raised grooves either side of the bonnet. The profile is ultimately square, but with the windows forming into a more pinched finish there is not the normal expanse of glass that usually features in other MPVs, making the overall appearance more a compact urban style, opposed to that of a giant wagon.
Moving inside and the Orlando welcomes you with a cosy feeling that is ergonomically designed perfectly to suit both driver and passengers’ needs. The centre console cascades down with what Chevrolet refer to as a ‘Butterfly’ designed dashboard (symmetrical both sides, apart from the steering wheel on one side of course). This hosts the Satellite Navigation (an option on anything below LTZ spec), Climate Control and Stereo system (which opens up to house any items you want hidden, as well as the USB and AUX input connections).
The rear hosts plenty of leg and headroom, always key for transporting mates out and around, but more importantly the extra 6th and 7th seats have as much leg and headroom as the second row (the normal back seats) seats. This is cleverly achieved by tiered seating, meaning more headroom for all, plus no one is looking directly at a headrest, BONUS! To top it all off, they also get their own armrests, left and right respectively.
Moving onto the actual ride and comfort levels - and for a people carrier the Orlando achieves both very well. The 2.0l Diesel Automatic we tested was responsive and comfortable to drive, especially at speed, which is great news for the executive traveller, or family holiday. You aren’t going to win any boy racer races with a 0-62mph time of 11seconds, but if you’re competing against other MPVs, by comparison it holds its own amongst the more sporty MPVs. What surprised me most however about the Orlando is the way it coped with winding country bends and how well it handles at speed, considering the higher centre of gravity, this battle bus sticks to the road whilst soaking up the bumps, smoothly travelling along.
Since driving my first Chevrolet (Spark) I have been very impressed with their attention to optional extras and standard equipment, always proving to include really useful options in standard equipment right through the range. The Orlando is no different either, the range topping LTZ spec will see you getting 17” wheels, leather elements and USB connectivity amongst many other features, however it is worth pointing out that spending just another £2,000 for the ‘Executive Pack’ means you get some 18” rims, jet black leather upholstery with heated front seats and Satellite Navigation thrown in (usually a £765 optional extra).
The Orlando tested was priced at a rather modest £23,195 which you can’t complain at for a top of the range model.
Overall the Chevrolet Orlando has impressed me immensely, with a rather reserved opinion when seeing the show car and pictures beforehand, my opinion has been changed and for the better. For Chevrolet it means a new market and a new offering to expand their range, establishing themselves once again showing us what they can offer without the GM giant Vauxhall.
More importantly however, to celebrate their 100 years of automotive history, Chevrolet donated 100 of the brand new Orlandos to the charity SOS Children’s Villages, increasing mobility of children, their mothers and carers to help reach disadvantaged communities.
Well done Chevrolet!