What is it?
The Chevy Orlando MPV is an early candidate for most surprising car of the year, for all the right reasons, of course.
Refined and good to drive, roomy and pleasing to look at, the Orlando scores a home run in what is turning out to be a competitive year for seven-seaters. Also new in dealers are the Ford Grand C-Max and revised VW Touran, while a new Vauxhall Zafira, the Orlando’s platform-twin, will launch at Geneva.
What's it like?
The Orlando’s strengths are a balance of dynamic qualities, a responsive chassis yet compliant ride, combined with quiet but punchy diesels and a useful roster of MPV practicality.
From the three engine — one petrol, two diesel —range, on balance we recommend the lower power of the two 2.0-litre diesels, tested here. Although it gives away 32bhp, the performance difference isn’t limiting and the factory figures for fuel economy and emission are identical.
Critically, in mid-spec LT trim the 128bhp diesel is usefully £1750 cheaper.
We’ve already praised the diesels in the key rival, the new C-Max, for refinement and the Orlando, surprisingly is their match. Surprising because this is not a state-of-the-art diesel, but a proven design by Italian manufacturer VM that, for curious corporate reasons, is actually a variant of Hyundai’s 2.2-litre unit.
It provides 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.
At these speeds the Orlando drops its refinement cloak a little with intrusive wind noise, but tyre noise is well contained, unlike some rivals. Inside the Orlando has a well-thought out cabin, the highlight of which is a hidden dashboard cubby revealed behind a hinging stereo fascia. It’s a genius piece of design that deserves to be copied.
The plastics are good enough quality, although not outstanding, and the mid-row of seats tumble/fold, rather than slide/fold, which in theory makes them easier to operate than the Zafira, for example, particularly when child seats are belted in.
But the folding mechanisms on the test cars were of variable quality, some getting stuck half way through the tumble fold. And for the facelift Chevy needs to redesign the awkwardly-shaped gearknob.
Should I buy one?
The new Orlando is a terrific new addition to the ranks of seven-seat family battle-wagons. Well done Chevy, you’ve surprised us all.
Chevrolet Orlando 2.0 VCDi
Price: £18,645; Top speed: 112mph; 0-62mph: 10.3sec; Economy: 47mpg; Co2: 159g/km; Kerb weight: 1655kg; Engine type, cc: Four-cyl, transverse, 1998cc; Power: 128bhp @ 3800rpm; Torque: 232lbft @ 2000rpm; Gearbox: Six-speed manual