Orlando fills the local gap

2011-07-29 09:05

The new Orlando seven-seater is Chevrolet’s 34th vehicle in just five years – indicative of its aggressive or confused positioning.

From the petite Spark to the SS Lumina and Captiva, the new Orlando lets Chevrolet fill the gap in the local market with this bulky MPV, which they punt as an “MPV at heart, but a crossover vehicle in style”.

Available in a 1.8-litre engine, the car comes in two specification trims – LS and the top-end
LT models.

While the LS has 17-inch wheels and cloth seats, the LT has 18-inch wheels and full leather and some chrome finishes.

Other than that, both models come pretty loaded with standard equipment.

Features on the LS model include power steering, an adjustable steering wheel, air conditioner, electric mirrors, rear park assist, cruise control and driver systems such as ABS, electronic stability programme, traction control and brake assist.

I was blown away when I first saw online images of the concept vehicle last year.

It looked ultrahot, yet it somehow lost some cool points in my books when it came to the real thing.

While it’s big and bold, almost thug-like, the sexiness was lost in the production.

The Orlando is a big car, it’s a people-mover, but I was disappointed to learn that there is no automatic model available in the range and no bigger engines either.

For a big car, one doesn’t expect to speed through hills.

The 16-valve petrol engine with multipoint fuel injection is the same found in the Cruze and it’s mated to a five-speed gearbox.

On the outside, the Orlando features Chevrolet’s distinctive split grille with the bow-tie badge, it has bold wheel arches and a low roof line.

The headlights are rather bog and so are the rear lights. They aren’t the sexiest, but it does make the car stand out and emphasises its chunky size.

The inside is spacious and comfortable – so is the third row in the rear.

The cockpit is reminiscent of the Corvette, with a dual cockpit layout and blue back-lighting for the centre console.

There are loads of nifty storage compartments and I especially liked the big one behind the audio controls.

These controls are integrated into the lid of the storage compartment and no one would ever guess that they are there.

The second rear-view mirror allows the driver or the front passenger to see right to the back of the third-row seats.

It’s great for keeping an eye on the kids and the mirror folds away neatly to resemble a sunglass compartment in the centre of the roof.

I usually cringe at seven-seaters because getting the third row up in the back is always such a mission.

Thankfully, the Orlando has theatre-style seating, which means the layout of the three rows of seats is in a raised-tier format.

The second and third rows can be folded down flat and raised independently, which allows a variety of seating positions.

It also makes way for a completely flat load area when both rows are folded down.

The third row flips out easily and the second can tumble forward to allow easy access to the rear.
General Motors SA says safety features include the use of high-strength materials, with crumple zones to absorb impact.

There are also strategically placed chassis members designed to disperse impact energy through the body structure.

Other items include six standard airbags, isofix fittings on all seats and an accident motion detector that automatically unlocks all the doors of the car should it be involved in an accident.

Despite the non-existent auto box, it’s a perfect getaway car for the entire family.

As long as it serves a comfortable purpose and ticks all the mandatory boxes, this car is a winner – even if its chunky looks remind you of a block of cheese.

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