Test Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Orlando LT car test drives reviews chevrolet
2012 Chevrolet Orlando LT. Click image to enlarge

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Manufacturer’s web site
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Review and photos by Grant Yoxon

Photo Gallery:
2012 Chevrolet Orlando

Second Opinion:
By Chris Chase

The Chevrolet Orlando is a seven passenger compact minivan — or as GM would prefer, “part MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle), part crossover” — that competes in Canada against the Mazda5 and the Kia Rondo.

The “in Canada” part is worth mentioning, because the Orlando, which is built in South Korea by GM’s Korean subsidiary, is not sold in the United States — at least not yet.

Young families who need the flexibility to seat up to seven passengers or routinely carry lots of stuff with them, but are reluctant to pay the purchase price or the fuel costs for larger multi-purpose utility vehicles (minivans and crossovers), will find the Orlando appealing.

With four-cylinder fuel economy, more modest monthly payments than most minivans and SUVs, but equipped with passenger and cargo carrying capacity of these much larger vehicles, the Chevrolet Orlando provides the flexibility to carry all of a family’s precious cargo without breaking the family budget.

Test Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Orlando LT car test drives reviews chevrolet
2012 Chevrolet Orlando LT. Click image to enlarge

And the budget starts at just $19,995 for the entry level Orlando LS, equipped with power windows, locks and remote keyless entry, four wheel disc brakes, ABS, stability control and traction control, CD player with MP3 and auxiliary audio inputs, block heater, tilt steering wheel, three auxiliary power outlets, manual transmission and 16-inch steel wheels.

Our test model, a 1 LT, takes the standard equipment up a notch with air conditioning, cruise control, premium cloth seats, floor mats, power heated mirrors, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, driver arm rest and centre console. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but our tester came equipped with the six-speed automatic, a $1,450 option, as well as 16-inch alloy wheels ($510) and a vehicle interface package at $460. Total price, all in including a destination charge of $1,595, brought the price of the Orlando to $26,310. Taxes extra of course.

Test Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Orlando LT car test drives reviews chevrolet
Test Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Orlando LT car test drives reviews chevrolet
Test Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Orlando LT car test drives reviews chevrolet
Test Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Orlando LT car test drives reviews chevrolet
2012 Chevrolet Orlando LT. Click image to enlarge

Other trim levels available include the 2LT which adds the 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, USB port, vehicle interface package, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and tire pressure monitoring system for $24,895, and; the top-of-the-line LTZ at $29,735 with its standard automatic climate control, chrome and stainless steel exterior trim, ambient interior lighting and electro-chromic rear view mirror. Leather seating, sunroof and navigation system are available at extra cost.

The Orlando is as compact as the Chevrolet Cruze on which it is based, yet it is surprisingly roomy, with seating for seven and a bit of luggage or, with the third row folded flat, seating for five and a lot of luggage.

When fitting seven passengers into a vehicle compartment, form follows function and for most manufacturers that form takes the shape of a minivan or a rather large (and thirsty) SUV. It may not be the prettiest form on four wheels, but GM’s designers have done a nice job shaping the Orlando without sacrificing its functionality.

There are three rows of theatre-like seating, with each successive row slightly higher than the row in front. By folding one or more of the seats in the second and third rows, numerous seating configurations are possible. When fully flat, the Orlando will hold 1,594 litres (56.3 cu. ft.) of cargo behind the front seats. To carry all the drink cups, toys, games and other stuff that accumulate in family vehicles, the Orlando has two large cup holders in the centre console, map and bottle holders integrated into the front and rear doors and a number of compartments in the cargo area.

There is also a hidden storage area — hidden so well that I never realized it was there during my test drive — behind the face of the audio system, large enough to carry items like an MP3 player, sunglasses or wallets. Here you will also find the auxiliary jack and the optional USB port for iPod or MP3 connectivity.

The driver and front-row passenger seats have tremendous for and aft adjustment permitting the right amount of legroom for both tall and short drivers. Our tester’s upgraded fabric felt very durable. The driver and front passenger seats have been constructed with a lot of natural lumbar support and we found them to be very comfortable, even for extended drives.