£18,050 - £25,650 Price range
35 - 53 MPG
The Chevrolet Orlando is a seven-seater MPV that offers family motoring on a budget. It comes with a long warranty, something that might persuade some buyers to ignore its odd looks.
It comes in for some praise – it’s big and relatively cheap to buy and run – but refinement suffers a little and the fit and finish can be a little bit rough in places; one critic said that it was easy to see where they’d saved money.
The Orlando seats seven in comfort, but with all three rows of seats in use the boot space is a dismal 89 litres, which isn’t very much at all.
Access to the third row is poor too, as is the headroom, so the big Chevrolet might be best considered to be a five seater that stretches to seven occasionally.
Otherwise it’s all fine, with the cabin being Chevrolet’s “best yet”. It’s well designed and there are some nice chrome and gloss black touches that lift it – even if it ultimately falls short of the class leaders.
You don’t buy an MPV for the driving experience – but the Orlando makes a pretty good fist of it anyway. The roadholding, handling and ride are all good but the steering has been criticised as being “vague”.
You only have to look at the shape of this type of car and you will immediately think that it will roll around like a ship in a rough sea when it goes around bends. However, while some competitors do roll-around like that, Chevrolet has done a good job of restricting body roll in the Orlando.
Limiting body roll in tall cars can lead to a ride that is firmer than you would like, but once again, Chevrolet has found a likeable middle ground and the Orlando is still a fairly comfortable ride.
The small petrol engine in best avoided, as it’s underpowered and noisy. The larger diesel engines – 130hp and 163hp – are much better and give a decent compromise between performance and economy while still being fairly refined.
The two diesel options are both the same 2.0-litre unit, with the larger 163hp version being the only engine option you can choose with a six-speed automatic gear box.
As is often the case with engines like this Chevrolet diesel, the smaller 130hp version will be the first choice for most buyers. Although it is understandably noticeably less powerful than its bigger brother, it will have more than enough grunt for most people buying in this segment.
Testers didn’t like the small 1.8-litre petrol engine, with one saying that it is “so gutless as to be barely worthy of mention” while another said that it was “best avoided … it’s underpowered for a model of this size, and becomes noisy and strained on the motorway.”
It develops 139bhp so it’s not a particularly feeble engine – it just has to propel a big seven-seater car. It struggles as a consequence, taking eons to reach 62mph and the top speed is barely adequate. Fuel consumption is likely to be around 40mpg, which is OK given the size of the car.
It’s outclassed in such a big car, so you’ll be much better off buying one of the larger engines.
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine is available in two formats: 128bhp and 160bhp. The smaller version, the 130, has a top speed of 112mph, courtesy of 128bhp and a 0-62mph time of 10.3sec thanks to a torque figure of 232lb ft.
Fuel consumption is a respectable 47mpg (most road testers found that they could get within a few mpg of the official consumption figures too) with a Co2 emissions figure of 159g/km, helped by the six-speed manual gearbox. These figures are identical to the more powerful 160bhp version.
The engine gives “sweet progress throughout the operating range, but feels especially relaxed cruising multi-lanes in sixth gear, partly because the gearing is well judged to allow acceleration without dropping down a gear.”
The VCDi 160 engine develops 32bhp more than the 130-version, giving a top speed of 121mph, which will be enough for most drivers with families. It’s not just a long-legged cruiser though; its acceleration is sprightly too, taking a reasonable 9.37 seconds to hit 62mph thanks to a very healthy torque figure of 265lb ft. This torque makes “overtaking a doddle” according to one journalist, something that is much more useful in everyday use than you might first consider.
The fuel consumption and emissions figures are identical to the less-powerful version, which is likely to be accurate if you don’t access the extra power constantly. The more powerful diesel engine’s “accessible performance makes the top-spec LTZ by far the most likeable Orlando”, makes this the best engine to choose.
The upright shape of the Orlando might worry some people for whom safety is a big part of their final buying decision. However, safety is an area of vehicle development that the Orlando seems to have a pretty good handle on.
The ultimate expression of how safe any vehicle is here in the UK is the Euro NCAP test results and the Orlando scores a full five stars for overall safety, which is as good as it gets.
There’s a whole host of safety equipment in the Orlando such as plenty of airbags for both the driver and the passengers, stability control, ABS, traction control and electronic brake force distribution.
It’s cheap (if you stick to sensible equipment levels) and has a five-year warranty – but you’ll pay for them both. Refinement and finish aren’t as good as the class leaders and the boot is abysmal if all three rows of seats are being used.
While the petrol Orlando may look like a bit of a bargain, it really is worth paying the extra for the smaller of the two diesels as it is infinitely better than the 1.8-litre petrol that just doesn’t have enough power.
The Vauxhall Zafira shares the same platform as the Chevrolet Orlando, so you might be able to save a few pounds here for the same driving experience – and get a five-year warranty.
The Orlando is cheap-ish to buy and run and gives decent performance and economy. The five-year warranty will give the private buyer some reassurance too, which will appeal to some.
But it’s some way short of the class-leading competition for finish and refinement. It might also be worthwhile looking elsewhere if you regularly travel with seven people in the car with their luggage.