Put to rest any notions you have about buying domestic and helping the local economy: The 2012 Chevrolet Orlando may have had its design dictated by Canadian engineers but the vehicle is technically a Korean product. In addition, the Orlando will only be available in Canada, Europe and Asia. You read correctly: Despite a name evocative of good family fun in Florida, and despite GM’s emblem as the pre-eminent American automaker, the Orlando will not be for sale in the USA.
So, is it the right vehicle for Canada?
Sensibly sized for modern families, clever use of vertical space
The Orlando is a good idea and should work. A Canadian compromise with parts of the world where people are used to less cabin space, this vehicle boasts zero wasted room. It seats seven, but it is barely longer than the Chevy Cruze, which seats four (NB, the two vehicles are comparable in price).
To be fair, in the Orlando’s back row there’s really not enough space for an adult to endure a long ride (say, a trip to…Orlando) but for tootling about town, it’s great. Soccer moms may miss being imperiously high up off the ground but grandparents will appreciate that they don’t need to bend to get in.
The back two rows of seats fold away, providing plenty of extra storage space: 1,594 cubic litres. That’s a lot of litres. At an Orlando press event in the Kawartha Lakes, our Chevy hosts did a demo showing how you could pack more luggage in it than a Mazda5. On the other hand, the Maza5 has those sliding doors, great for snowball fights.
My favourite example of the clever use of space? The face of the stereo flips up, revealing a secret glove compartment, ideal for storing sunglasses, wallet or stash without that long stretch for the driver.
The 2.4L Direct-Injected I4 engine grinds out 174 hp at 6700 rpm and 171 lb.-ft. of torque at 4900 rpm. It whined loudly on the steep, angled hills of the Kawarthas.
The rain heaped down upon the car, challenging the efficiency of the wipers. I turned off the traction control switch and tried some corners, hydroplaning slightly. If you’ve ever driven Kawartha back roads and have children, you’d understand why I put it back on. See safety features below.
Great fuel consumption
GM anticipates it will lead the (admittedly small) category of 7-passenger non-hybrids: 10.1L/100km in the city, 6.7 on the highway. Certainly, that will impact decision-makers — but if you’re interested in something with this much seating, the information that follows matters most.
Enough safety features to assuage nervous parents
You get: OnStar® with 6 months of Directions and Connections; 6 airbags; ABS; StabiliTrak®, the aforementioned traction control; head restraints for every seat; power rear child security door locks; and a child-view mirror.
The first wave of purchasing is in October – just in time to drive it south to Orlando for winter and show it off to curious Americans.
2012 Chevrolet Orlando
LS Base Price: $19,995
LTZ Base Price: $29,735
Image courtesy of GMKoreatalk.