Vehicle Type

The closest thing to a minivan on offer from GM since the Chevrolet Venture was canned

Small Crossover

History/Description

The Chevrolet Orlando launched in 2012 to compete with models like the Kia Rondo and Mazda 5. The compact, three-row model was loosely slotted into the compact crossover / wagon segment, and launched at a time when compact vehicle sales were heating up. Unfortunately, the Orlando lived only a short sales life, and was discontinued after 2014.

With three standard rows of seating, an all direct-injected, all six-speed powertrain lineup and a name synonymous with family getaways, the 2012 Chevrolet Orlando was a Korean-built, Canada-only model that became the closest thing to a minivan on offer from GM since the Chevrolet Venture was canned some years back. Orlando rode the GM Global Delta platform, meaning it was based loosely on the Chevrolet Cruze.

Feature content included full multimedia connectivity, OnStar, heated seats, parking radar, a sunroof, full stability control implements, and more. Up to 1,594 litres of cargo space was available, and second and third-row seating could be folded independently, or together, to create a totally flat cargo hold.

Engines / Trim

All models run a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, direct-injected for 174 hp. A six-speed automatic transmission will be fitted to most used units, though a manual was available on select models. Base models were called LS, while LT and LTZ were the mid-range and fully loaded models.

What Owners Like

Owners report decent fuel mileage, a handy and flexible interior, a refined and quiet engine, and decent ride quality on most surfaces. Notably, interior noise levels are low enough to have a shouting-free conversation amongst all seating rows, and third row seating is said to be surprisingly roomy, even adult-friendly for shorter trips. A modern cabin design and easy entry and exit round out the package.

What Owners Dislike

Complaints include limited headroom for taller passengers, who are advised to watch their foreheads with the low door sills, and not-for-everyone styling. Some owners wish for better steering feel, and others wish the automatic transmission would hunt less on hilly terrain.

Here are some owner reviews of the Chevrolet Orlando.

The Test Drive

The Orlando’s reasonable used pricing and use of proven drivelines means that many shoppers will find it a compelling value when it comes to affordably accessing a flexible, roomy, and solid used ride that packs above-average space and cargo capacity for its price point. That said, low sales volumes and a short lifespan mean that specific reliability information relating to the Orlando is limited, with many Chevrolet owner forums not even offering a specific sub-forum for this model.

As such, we’ll provide some notes and recommendations below based on input from our network of auto technician pals, and extrapolate some further tips from past used-car reviews of GM models that use the same driveline and platform as the Orlando.

Standard used family hauler checks, first: Start inside, examining all seating surfaces, and especially the outboard bolster of the driver’s seat, for signs of excessive wear or abrasion. If the seats look like they’ve seen better days, or are beginning to wear or rip, call it into your pricing negotiations. Test drivers are also advised to check the door sills, and nearby plastics, where passengers and cargo typically enter the vehicle, i.e. at each door and at the rear of the cargo area. Confirm proper operation from all power windows, several times. Check that all folding / sliding seat provisions work as intended.

Confirm that all service records are available, and particularly those relating to oil changes. As some newer used Orlando models will still be under GM’s factory powertrain warranty, this is important – should you need a powertrain warranty claim, you’ll likely need to prove that all oil changes have been performed on time, so be sure to obtain proper documentation from the seller.

Note that the 2.4-litre four-cylinder direct-injected engine used in the Orlando has been the subject of many discussions about oil consumption in other applications, though by time the Orlando rolled around for 2012, it seems like the issue (stemming from potentially bad pistons and piston rings), had been addressed. In any case, check the oil level and condition at your test drive, and continue to do so religiously while you own the vehicle. If you’re concerned, ensure that the model you’re considering isn’t huffing any blue smoke from the tailpipe, and have a mechanic do a compression test, for maximum peace of mind.

Note that borked cam and crankshaft position sensors can reduce power, cause stalling or result in sporadic power delivery. Issues like these are typically, but not always, given away by the presence of a Check Engine light. Take this as an invitation to have the Orlando’s computer brain scanned by a diagnostic tool to determine the root of the problem, if present. Note that a stored “misfire” code may be evidence of a problem with the fuel delivery system or an ignition coil pack, and that as a direct-injection (DI) engine, Orlando’s powerplant should never be left overdue for a spark-plug or oil change, and that it should be fed quality, top-tier (but not high-octane) fuel at every fill for maximum long-term durability.

Note that any automatic-equipped model exhibiting signs of harshness, clunking or slamming during gear changes may need to have its transmission’s computer brain wiped out and reprogrammed with revised software, which ensures more consistently smooth behavior from the transmission. If the model you’re considering exhibits any unusual shifting behavior, be sure to have it looked at by a GM mechanic. Conversely, if you’re considering a model with the manual transmission, confirm that there’s no sign of clutch slippage, or signs of grinding or biting back while shifting gears, since both could indicate a problem with excessive clutch or transmission wear.

Move to the air conditioner, ensuring that it pumps cold air into the cabin quickly. Any failure to do so could be the result of one or more failed air conditioning system components, most likely the compressor, or a problem with the computer that controls the AC system. A clogged condenser or cabin air filter can also cause problems with proper A/C system operation. In any case, a qualified technician can inspect and diagnose air conditioner problems quickly, if required.

A few steering-related issues to note. First, visit the highway and get the Orlando up to speed, turning the steering wheel slightly to weave, where appropriate. A notchy feel or sticking sensation to the steering could indicate a problem, likely as the result of a bad steering system motor, or a bad bushing in the steering shaft.

As this is a safety-related issue, shoppers are advised to be absolutely sure to have any signs of unwelcome steering system sensations checked out ahead of their purchase at a GM dealer. Note that most owners reporting this issue say that it occurs at low miles, and commonly have it fixed under warranty. More info here.

Further, here’s some more reading on a recall issued to deal with the possibility of lost power steering assist, caused by corrosion and road salt. Shoppers are advised to talk to a GM service advisor, and have the Orlando’s steering system checked over fully by a technician before purchase. With the Orlando’s VIN number, that advisor can determine if the vehicle in question was affected by the steering system recall, and arrange the repair.

Finally, a full check of the Orlando’s braking and suspension system is advised, especially on higher-mileage units. Note that a pre-purchase inspection at a GM dealer will take about an hour, and run about $175 or less.

The Verdict

By and large, Orlando shoppers can expect reliable and trouble-free operation for years to come, provided they take steps to ensure they wind up with a used unit that’s been well-maintained, and isn’t concealing any problems. Some more serious issues with the steering system dull the appeal slightly, though they can be easily detected, and typically addressed with a free-of-charge recall at your nearest dealer. With plenty of space and low used-car pricing, a second-hand Orlando is worthy of consideration for your compact family-hauler needs, alongside the used Mazda 5 and Kia Rondo.

Here’s a short list of recalls.

Crash Test Ratings

N/A