2012 Chevrolet Orlando - First Impressions
It’s no secret that we Canadians like our family-friendly vehicles such as Minivans/MPVs and Station Wagons. However, when it comes to choice, we typically have to accept whatever our neighbors to the South request from the manufacturers. After all, when compared to the huge market that is the U.S. we’re simply an after-thought.
However, we can now boast about having our very own, not-available-in-the-United States, 7-passenger MPV, which our colonial cousins will simply have to sit back and envy. Oh, and that’s the correct word to use, because the new 2012 Chevrolet Orlando is actually one sweet little family transportation device!
Based on the hugely successful Global Delta Architecture (think Chevy Cruze), this vehicle offers comfortable seating for 7, and is not only family budget friendly with regards to initial cost, but also when it comes time to visiting the old fuel pump.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the Americans passed up on the opportunity for this Korean built GM, but it’s my feeling that they’ll probably live to regret that decision down the road.
Yes, this new vehicle, which can probably aptly be described as a MPV/CUV crossover offers a lot of what Canadians require in family transportation, without adding the expense of AWD/4WD.
From the outside, I have to admit to finding the rather bulbous front-end a little off-putting at first. However, it does help give the vehicle presence, and after a short while, the look actually started to grow on me.
It’s of decent size, and considerably larger than one or two of its competitors (Mazda 5 / Kia Ronda / Scion Xb), although I believe there are several others that could be added to that list.
Power is supplied by the company’s 2.4L ECOTEC VVT DI gasoline engine which offers 174hp @ 6700rpm / 171ft lbs of torque @ 4900rpm. This is then coupled to a 6-speed manual gearbox (standard on the LS & LT), or a 6-speed automatic transmission (standard on the LTZ, and available on the LT).
Fuel economy figures are given as… Manual – 10.1L/100kms City, and 6.7L/100kms Highway, and Automatic – 10.6L/100kms City, and 6.9L/100kms Highway, which are not bad when you consider the available seating and cargo capacity.
The Orlando, which strikes me as a rather a strange name for a vehicle that is not sold in Mickey’s hometown, offers seating for 7 (theatre-style for the 2nd & 3rd row) and even the rear is quite comfortable for adults, although perhaps not for a lengthy cross-country tour. Of course, when cargo requirements top passenger needs, there is 1594L of flat-floor area behind the 1st row seats, and the vehicle sports a decent sized rear door for easy loading.
It must be said that GM did a great job with the interior of the vehicle, as it’s stylishly designed and there are one or two features that particularly stand out. Perhaps the most ingenious is the hidden compartment behind the center display. Honestly, if GM hadn’t told me about this, I’d have never have found it. What a perfect hiding place for cameras/wallets etc when leaving your vehicle unattended. Of course, you’ll now have to keep that to yourselves or it will rather defeat the idea of a secret compartment!
The Orlando comes well equipped with power windows, locks and RKE on all models. It also boasts something which is sure to please Canadians, particularly in winter, and that’s the floor heating ducts for passengers in the 2nd & 3rd rows.
Safety is obviously important to everyone, and especially in a family-oriented vehicle, and the Orlando doesn’t disappoint on that score. The vehicle comes standard with 4-wheel disc brakes, ABS, Panic Assist and Cornering Brake Control. It also boasts StabiliTrak, Traction Control, 6 airbags, head restraints for all seating positions, power rear child security locks and a child-view rear mirror. GM’s On-Star is also standard on all models.
Now for the drive!
Now I had the opportunity to test both the LT and the LTZ versions of the Orlando, and there’s a notable difference between the two of them. Whereas the LT feels slightly Minivan-like in its ride and maneuverability (which is perfectly fine for its intended use), the LTZ, with its upgraded suspension and 18 inch wheels, tends to add a somewhat European flavor to the mix.
Both models demonstrate greater than expected interior isolation from wind & road noise and when driving, you can actually hear what the 3rd row passengers have to say.
The 2.4L VVT DI power plant, when coupled to the 6-speed automatic offers plenty enough oomph but to enjoy that to its fullest extent, I’d personally go for the LTZ. Now some might find the ride is a tad harsh for a family runabout, not to mention the added expense (The LTZ starts at $29,735, whereas the base LS is under $20k), but in my opinion, it transforms this into a real fun-to-drive family vehicle.
GM expects the most popular model to be its LT1 package, which adds such things as A/C, Cruise, Telescopic Steering and Power Heated Mirrors to the base model (Automatic transmission is also available on this model, whereas the base LS only comes as a 6-speed manual). I tend to agree with them, as this package certainly offers good value for money. However, I think that they may be surprised at the interest garnered by the LTZ, as it takes the vehicle to the next level.
I also feel the Orlando will appeal to a rather wide age-range of buyers, as it not only suits most young families requirements, but with its easy-to-access ride height, it’s pretty tempting for older buyers as well.
All in all, I feel that GM is onto a winner with this vehicle. It drives well, offers comfortable seating for 7 with ample cargo capacity, and perhaps best of all, it does all this whilst still being pretty frugal on fuel. For a family, you really can’t ask for much better than that!
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