Chevrolets Orlando will have probably passed you by. Despite being keenly priced and offering a comprehensive five-year warranty potential customers seem to be deterred by its, er, challenging looks and uncertain image.
We were intrigued by its low price and promise of hassle-free motoring so we borrowed one to see whether the Yankee pretender is a genuine rival to established Euro MPVs or is best avoided by canny private buyers.
OK, lets get it out of the way. The Orlandos exterior isnt its greatest strength. Reactions will vary of course but few will argue that it is a handsome car. The main problem, to my eyes anyway, is the bluff front and enormous headlights, a combination that gives the Chevy a very American look that is alien to European eyes.
Other than that its pretty inoffensive and you could even claim - with eyes lightly squinted - there is a touch of the Evoque about its sloping rear roofline. The big alloys fill the wheel-arches well and the rear bumper sports an innovative fog/reversing light in the centre.
The Orlando is definitely an individual and isnt going to be mistaken for anything else.
Things are much better inside the Orlando; its spacious, clever, and sports Chevrolets best dashboard yet. Look closely and you can see where theyve saved money but, as this is a very cheap MPV, thats only to be expected. And anyway, I would rather see cheaper plastic inside the car than worry that theyve saved a few quid on the oily bits
That sloping roofline does inhibit headroom in the third row of seats, partly because the three rows of seats are configured theatre-style rising higher from front to back, but apart from that there is plenty of room for everyone.
The dashboard is clear and intuitive and the driver wont find much wrong with the Orlandos ergonomics. That old motoring journalists clich of everything falls easily to hand applies very nicely here. Equipment levels are decently high, at least in the LTZ-spec car that we were driving, and few will find the need to trouble the options list.
Small touches, such as the discreet naughty mirror demonstrate that this is a family car that has clearly benefited from the input of parents during its design, as do the many and varied storage compartments.
Bad points? Well, the biggest problem is that the boot is so small as to make the Orlando a five-seater that has the ability to extend to seven occasionally.
Other than that all I can drum up is the fact that the trim has been chosen more for its durability than its aesthetic qualities - but thats probably a good thing in a family car
Things continue to improve when you drive the Orlando, as it is really rather good. The elevated driving position, low first gear, and torquey engine conspire to make the Orlando feel much faster than the performance figures suggest; it darts in traffic, cruises quietly at motorway speeds, and has enough oomph to overtake when the need arises. It has, in short, enough power for its intended purpose.
Its nippy and nimble too, which comes as an equally pleasant surprise, and whilst there is some bodyroll it handles much better than youd guess. It also steers well and rides even better, which are far more important traits back in the real world. After all, you arent going to be thrashing one round a track, are you?
The 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine fitted to our review car produced 161bhp, although a less powerful 128bhp model is also available. It churns out 186g/km of CO2 (VED class G) and averages 40-odd mpg, a figure that I suspect most owners should be able to get reasonably close to without having to try too hard.
The big advantage that it has over its less-powerful diesel sibling is performance (perceived and real), especially when mated to the six-speed automatic gearbox. This pair complements each other perfectly and potential buyers should think long and hard before considering any other combination; the higher spec might cost more upfront but youll continue to appreciate the improved performance long after youve forgotten the cost.
Value for Money
If you stick to the standard equipment the Orlando provides a whole lot of bang for your buck. The range starts at 16,825 and the LTZ-spec car that I borrowed cost 21,735.
Resale values arent the best in the world, but with a five-year warranty Id guess that youre going to be hanging on to it for a while anyway.
I wasnt expecting to like the Orlando. I was put off by its ungainly looks and judged it accordingly. I was wrong to do so because it drives very well indeed and feels far more sprightly than any car this size has any right to.
Its cheap, too and families will be drawn to the prospect of five years hassle-free driving; owners can buy three-years servicing for 349 too, further strengthening the Chevrolets case for being included on a buyers shortlist.
Rivals include the Peugeot 5008 and Ford S-Max, both of which have better carwow scores but do cost more to buy.
Take a look at our full summary of the Chevrolet Orlando along with reviews, photos, stats and videos!