2012 Chevrolet Orlando 1LT Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Good looking, seats 7, fuel-efficient and starts under $20k. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Nice looking SUV styling from the back. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Handles the curves quite well. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Nice looking, good quality materials and better than average switchgear. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Audio system is good, but no standard Bluetooth yet. And where's the aux plus? (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on February 21, 2012

Ah, the aux plug is in this handy covered dash bin, as is the USB input if you upgrade to the 2LT. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Good seating room from front to back, and all rows fold flat for loading cargo. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Published on February 21, 2012

Love the Cruze, but need more room? Chevy's got the answer in its new 7-seat Orlando. It's the best-priced 7-occupant ride out there, but it's not all about price.

No, like the Cruze, the Orlando impresses in so many other ways. Like performance, handling, ride quality, refinement, features, fuel economy, etc. It's a compact crossover that fights way above its belt.

For three rows of seats the Orlando is small, measuring 4.66 meters (183.6 inches) long and 1.83 meters (72.2 inches) wide, which makes it a tad longer and wider than Kia's Rondo, the only other compact that seats 7, albeit at a higher price as that feature is optional with the Korean (and I'm not counting Mitsubishi's Outlander as its optional third row is an afterthought at best). Mazda's 5 seats 6, which may be enough for you. You'll need to decide that. It has the convenience of side sliders, along with the stigma of a minivan. Toyota's RAV4 no longer has a third row, a good thing if you ever tried to sit back there.

No such problem in the Orlando. I took opportunity to climb in back and have a seat, and while I'm no Jeremy Lin (I was going to say Wilt Chamberlain, but then you'd know my age… how about Yao Ming as Lin isn't all that tall for an NBA player) I'm a 5'8" adult and had no problems with head, shoulder, knee or foot room.

Try to put something behind me and you'll come up short, mind you, as there's possibly only room for a skinny briefcase and a grocery bag of baguettes, or two. Chevy measures it at 101 litres (3.6 cubic feet). You can flop the third row forward in a 50/50 split to create more space, of course, 739 litres (26.1 cubic feet) to be exact. And ultimately, 1,594 litres (56.3 cubic feet) is on hand if you drop all the seats into the floor. Sizeable for sure, but strangely not as accommodating as the Rondo despite its larger overall size.

I like the Orlando more, though. It's a styling thing, probably. Am I really that fickle? Sigh. I suppose. I like the way the Orlando looks. It's a cute, pudgy little crossover, somewhat van-like from the front and more SUV-like from the back. It's not as tall as the Kia, which makes for slightly sleeker styling, and probably is the root cause of the cargo capacity conundrum.

More importantly, the Orlando is more fuel-efficient with an estimated rating of 10.1 L/100km city and 6.7 highway for the 6-speed manual transmission and 10.6 city and 6.9 highway with its 6-speed automatic, the version I tested. The Rondo? 10.6 and 7.5 respectively with its base four-cylinder, and it only comes with a 4-speed automatic.

The Orlando gets the manual in base LS, plus 1LT and 2LT trim levels. The automatic is available on LT trim levels and is standard with the top-line LTZ. The direct-injection 1.8-litre engine makes more power than the Rondo's base unit too, at 174 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque. There's no V6 option, and honestly it doesn't really need it. Step on the go pedal and the Orlando pulls forward quickly enough to fulfill most needs, let alone wants. It passes nicely when up to speed, and really only drags its heels when starting out on steep grades filled with passengers and gear. Even then it's hardly embarrassing, keeping up with traffic nicely.

I found the Orlando just as pleasant in the curves. Possibly more so. Like the Cruze it manages corners well, showing stability through quick side-to-side transitions. It's taller and therefore displays some body lean, but its independent MacPherson strut front and compound crank Watts Z-link rear suspension system finds a nice balance between comfort and performance.

My Orlando was in 1LT trim, which is just over base. It was upgraded with 16-inch alloys, although 18-inch rims, offered on the 2LT and standard on the LTZ, would probably improve its slalom time, if such things matter to you. I'd be more interested in the comfort and convenience features that come with either upgrade.

The 2LT gets such niceties as a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a USB port, SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity (I'm told Bluetooth will be standard soon), tire pressure monitoring, and fog lights, whereas the LTZ ups the ante with automatic climate control, heated seats, a 6-way powered driver's seat, remote start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a cargo cover and net, chrome body side mouldings, and a chrome strip on the door handles, not to mention the automatic transmission thrown in, standard.

There's a price for all that goodness mind you, $25,090 including freight for the 2LT and $29,990 for the LTZ. My 1LT was more palatable to the pocketbook at $23,790, while adding air conditioning, power-adjustable heated mirrors, cruise control, telescopic steering, a centre console with closed storage, privacy glass, floor mats, premium cloth seats, and body-colour door handles on top of all the base LS model's standard features, which include powered windows with front auto-up/down, remote keyless entry, tilt steering, automatic headlamps, variable intermittent wipers, a driver information centre, OnStar telematics, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with an auxiliary input, a cool centre stack storage bin behind flip-up audio faceplate, a flip-down child viewing mirror, rear washer/wiper, illuminated vanity mirrors, anti-theft alarm, block heater, and more for only 21,490, including freight. An automatic transmission on LT models (no such option with the base LS) adds $1,450 to the window sticker.

All Orlando trim levels get standard four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, traction and stability control, and a full assortment of airbags.

If you'd rather wear a bowtie than a red oval belt buckle on your grille, just understand that that both the Rondo and Orlando are made in Korea. Both have excellent warranties, although Chevy's powertrain coverage stretches 60,000 farther to 160,000 kilometers. Kia will argue back that its basic coverage gives you two extra years and 40,000 additional kilometers.

For me, the decision comes down to overall value, and what you get for your money right now. The Orlando represents an all-new design with state-of-the-art engineering under its hood, resulting in superb fuel economy without sacrificing performance. Its claim to lowest priced 7-seat status is a bonus too, and while it will never become an IIHS top safety pick (it's not available south of the 49th where the IIHS resides) the Cruze is at the top of this class for safety, boding well for the Orlando.

All in all, the 2012 Chevrolet Orlando is a great compact family hauler.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, Chevrolet, 2012, Orlando, $20,000 - $29,999, Compact,

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments