A few months ago (too many to be specific about, it's embarrassing), a very nice young man knocked at the front door and handed me some sparkly, brand-new keys to a sparkly, brand-new car; a seven-seater Chevrolet Orlando LTZ.
Chevrolet very kindly sent me the Orlando to review for just over a week while we went on holiday to Dorset. We took my parents with us on holiday, although they drove down in their own car, and it was a very useful car to use whilst we travelled around the area on day trips, etc.
I've never driven a seven-seater before so was apprehensive about its size in comparison to my Renault Scenic, but in all honesty it wasn't that much bigger in any dimension; a few inches longer, taller and wider at the most, which made it easy to drive.
And it was an absolute dream to drive.
There are a huge amount of features on the Chevrolet Orlando, but as I am neither Jeremy Clarkson nor James May, I am not about to launch into the technicalities of it all although I will point out the basic model has:
- 7 seats in three rows
- 6 airbags
- ABS anti-lock brakes
- Air conditioning
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
- Radio/CD with Aux-in
- Central console storage with 2 cup holders
- Height adjustable driver’s seat
- Electric power steering
- Electric front windows
- Low flat loading space
- Electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors
- 17” alloy wheels (Orlando LTZ)
- Rain sensor windscreen wipers (Orlando LTZ)
- Automatic headlights (Orlando LTZ)
- Auto-dimming rear view mirror (Orlando LTZ)
- Power folding door mirrors (Orlando LTZ)
- Optional satellite navigation with rear parking camera (Orlando LTZ)
There are several big selling points for the Orlando, which it is indeed marketed on; flexibility, stylish interior design, safety and performance. Please view the Orlando technical specifications page for more information on safety, I'm not an expert and not happy to pass my opinion on it, and have someone rely on that. However, I'm more than happy to chat about the other areas!
Bootspace vs. More Seating
The boot is a large space, the surface area is larger than that of the Renault Scenic which I currently drive and the normal 'middle' row folds down flat to give more space for transporting larger items. The boot also holds two additional seats which fold up out of the floor. Due to the third row, the parcel shelf is retractable from a metal pole which fits into brackets on the sides of the car. In theory, this is great. In practise when the third row is in use, the only place to put the bar is on the floor of the second row, hardly practical. The other issue with the parcel shelf is how high up it is positioned; ridiculously I could get more into the boot of my Scenic than I could the Orlando, purely because my boot is more square whereas this is very flat. This is one of the compromises of having a third row.
Three Rows & Seven Seats
The other compromise of having a third row is leg space. The middle row seats are fixed position with very little foot space for a long journey, I actually couldn't handle sitting anywhere but in the front because I often suffer from restless legs and couldn't bear not being able to stretch them out. And the bottom right picture in the collage above shows how much foot space there was in the third row. The only person who sat in that for the week was my six-foot tall husband who was happy to stretch his legs across the row, indeed getting to the third row is incredibly tricky and involves clambering across a folded down middle row seat; there is no access from the boot.
Bearing in mind the middle row contains three seats (in a bench format) we were actually unable to fit three people across the back due to The Boy's car seat; therefore five people who should have been able to sit in two rows actually had to utilise the three rows in order to fit in. The middle seat in the middle row has a handy fold-down arm rest with two in-built cupholders which proved to be very useful on the longer car journey.
Satellite Navigation & Parking Camera
The Chevrolet Orlando has a very easy to use satellite navigation system in-built with a t.v. screen which also displays the image from the rear parking camera. I've never used a car satellite navigation system before and it was very simple to work out after a few attempts and saved our bacon a few times. The Orlando also has a rear parking sensor which is displayed on the screen and has two projection lines based on the angle of the tyres. My husband (who has perception of depth issues) loved this feature and used it all the time when reversing, I found it a little off putting at first but soon found myself using it as well.
Nestling into the driver's seat was like sitting in the captain's chair on a spaceship; every thing I could want to control was at my fingertips, and then some! I particularly liked the controls on the steering wheel. There were controls to flip the wing mirrors in, to control the brightness of the lights and display, you name it, it was there. The radio also has the option to plug in an iPhone or iPod to access the MP3s and play it through the music system.
The speedometer is analogue which is both surprising considering all the other digital gadgets and gizmos, and a bit difficult to read. I'm sure it was chosen as such to appear 'retro' but with so many cars having digital displays nowadays, it is a strange choice. There is also a petrol gauge which displays how many miles left in the tank and alerts the driver to the need to refill; I have this on my car and find it very useful although slightly disconcerting when it goes off with a range of 45 miles left.
The Chevrolet Orlando has an automatic gearbox, I've never driven an automatic before but I adapted to it very quickly and actually missed it once I handed the car back. As the Orlando LTZ is a 2 litre the power was astounding, acceleration was smooth and the ride on the motorway was wonderful; it really is a dream to drive.
The conclusion that I've come to is that the Chevrolet Orlando is a really nice car to drive, but is not such a great car to be a passenger in if you are an adult sat anywhere other than the passenger seat. It would be a great car for a family with three or four children up to the teenage years, definitely a good car for transporting hoards of children around. This review has proven to me that if we had another child, we wouldn't need to upgrade to a seven-seater, but I certainly would investigate the Chevrolet brand and other cars in their range.
I was lent the car for the purpose of this review, my opinion is honest and unbiased.