2012 Chevrolet Orlando 2LT
2012 Chevrolet Orlando 2LT. Click image to enlarge
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General Motors of Canada

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

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2012 Chevrolet Orlando

I like to think of the Orlando as a watershed vehicle for Chevrolet and GM. Sure, the Volt gets all the headlines, and it is a rolling technology showcase, but it’s cars like the Orlando, Sonic and Cruze that are helping GM claw its way back into business. It may not have lithium ion anywhere or plug into a wall outlet, but this is a good vehicle that GM is able to bring to markets where there is a demand for this type of vehicle, and at a price that will get people to take a long hard look at it.

First off, let’s take a moment to bask in some Canadian pride in our taste for efficient vehicles. The Orlando is being imported to Canada (manufactured in Korea) as a competitor to the Mazda5, Kia Rondo and other compact, yet spacious and accommodating family vehicles, but it is not yet being marketed in the States because of there is little interest there in compact six- and seven-seaters.

2012 Chevrolet Orlando 2LT
2012 Chevrolet Orlando 2LT. Click image to enlarge

So what do we get in this latest entrant in the ‘microvan’ segment? A compact family vehicle (it could easily be labeled a crossover, a wagon or a minivan as far as I’m concerned) with seating for seven plus room for a few shopping bags and fuel consumption officially rated at 10.6/6.9 L/100 km city/highway. Observed fuel consumption was within reason, but not quite as optimistic as Natural Resources Canada, at one point clocking 8.1 L/100 km during an extended highway drive and wrapping up a week of mixed highway cruising, highway gridlock, surface roads and parking lots (lots of parking lots) at 10.6 L/100 km.

One aspect of the Orlando that does not stand out from the crowd is its styling. It has a big Chevy bowtie and big headlights, but they are so well suited to the enlarged compact proportions, that everything comes together to look like an ordinary car. The boxy roofline (which allows for stadium seating in the rear) combined with tapered greenhouse and mildly sculpted side panels and fenders keep it from being a boring box. The black plastic fender and sill trim might lend it a bit of rugged appeal, but some commented that it seemed more cheap than rugged… Despite these criticisms, I also believe that this is exactly the kind of design GM needs for this segment: fashionable enough to attract young families, but plain enough to avoid dissent or disenchantment from parents, something that GM paid dearly for with the disastrous Uplander and Nissan with its adventurous Quest.

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