There’s no five-seat option with a Chevrolet Orlando, so it goes head to head with the biggest of its rivals as a seven-seater only, in a two-three-two layout.
Those rearmost seats are, as is usual, best used for kids or smaller adults on short journeys only, but the second row has good headroom and leg space, although it doesn’t slide. Neither can, as in the Grand C-Max or Mazda 5, the centre of the middle-row seats be folded away to make it a more luxurious-feeling four- or six-seater.
But don’t think that interior innovation has been forgotten. The middle row can be tipped and rolled forwards at the flip of one button, there’s a centrally mounted mirror for front-seat passengers to keep an eye on those in the rear, and the dashboard contains one of the finest interior features we’ve seen in a long time: up flip the stereo/nav controls to reveal a fabric-lined cubby with aux/MP3 sockets inside it, allowing music players and/or phones to be stowed inside, charged and utterly hidden from view when the car is unattended.
A pity, then, that the stereo controls themselves are some of the least intuitive on the market. With time, of course, you learn to live with it and navigate your way around, but only in the same fashion as you learn to live with losing your front teeth. You can do it, but it’s nicer if you don’t have to.
Still, the rest of the front cabin layout is convincing enough. Driving ergonomics are beyond serious criticism, save for a gearknob that’s too large, and the design gives it a generally classy ambience. That’s not classy “for a Chevrolet”, but generally so against its class rivals. It’s a shame, then, that one or two hard surfaces don’t withstand the scrutiny of a harder prod or scratch, but in general there’s much to be impressed by in here.