"Chevrolet's first MPV offers chunky looks, a comfortable ride and plenty of space, but it's the low price that will attract most buyers"
American brand Chevrolet has worked hard to give its models a European flavour, and the result is this – the seven-seat Orlando MPV. It takes on rivals like the new Ford Grand C-MAX and Citroen Grand Picasso and has chunky off-road styling that concealsa spacious and practical interior with lots of well thought-out touches, including a hidden panel in the dash for valuables and a convex mirror that lets the driver keep an eye on rear-seat passengers. Build quality and equipment levels are very good.
There are three engines available: a 1.8-litre petrol with 138bhp, and two 2.0-litre diesels. Although the petrol is cheaper, it feels too weak to power a car of this size. The diesels deliver strong in-gear acceleration, with the top-spec 161bhp version getting from 0-60 in 9.7 seconds. Despite this, it returns 47mpg and emits only 159g/km. There's a choice of six-speed manual or conventional automatic transmission, and both are solid rather than exceptional. The Orlando excels on the motorway, where it's quiet and refined, but it's surprisingly grippy in corners, too. The steering is light but offers little feedback, and thick pillars can make visibility an issue.
Overall, the Orlando matches its rivals for comfort, but it depends on which engine you go for. The petrol is noisy and intrusive, but the diesels are much quieter and relaxed. The tall windscreen means there's wind noise at higher speeds, but the ride quality is good: firm enough to keep body roll in check without ever becoming harsh. Buyers should be wary of fitting 18-inch alloy wheels, as they can make the ride jittery. There's enough room for adults in all seven seats, which are supportive and comfortable.
A five-year warranty comes as standard, and includes a servicing package and roadside assistance to ensure hassle-free ownership. Only Kia's seven-year deal is better. Chevrolet doesn’t have a good reputation for customer satisfaction or sturdy build quality, but this new model seems like a step in the right direction. Some of the interior plastics feel flimsy, but the mechanicals are built to last.
The Orlando provides plenty of storage with seats folded flat, but boot space is very limited with all three rows in place: only 79 litres. The rear-most seats fold and roll with one pull of a handle. The middle bench doesn’t slide like in some MPVs, but there's enough legroom to keep even tall passengers satisfied. The big doors and square tailgate were definitely designed with families in mind.
Value for money
The entry-level petrol starts at £16,345, which is a lot of car for the money, but even the top LTZ models undercut rivals from Citroen and Ford by over £2,000, with the high-powered diesel set at £20,195. They’re well equipped, too, with cruise control, parking sensors and six airbags as standard. The higher trims get more attractive interiors. The only downside is residual values, which should be around 35 per cent of the original value after three years.
The Orlando isn’t the greenest MPV around. Although the company claims the 1.8-litre petrol version will return 38.7mpg, you’ll struggle to replicate that in real-world driving. The diesels fair better, with close to 50mpg, although that drops to 40.1mpg if you opt for the automatic gearbox. Insurance on people carriers is normally quite pricey, but the Orlando sits in the lowest groups of any MPV, ranging from 10-16 depending which model you go for. Servicing costs should be low, too, and repairs can be carried out at Vauxhall dealers if there's no local Chevrolet outlet, with checks required every 20,000 miles.