Chevrolet Orlando, Kia Carens or Toyota Innova?

Help our letter sender decide
by Botchi Santos | Mar 1, 2012

Hi, Botchi!

I am a big fan of your column but I never thought I’d eventually be asking for your expert opinion.

I just got married last year and my wife and I now have a three-month old baby. I currently own a 2008 Honda Civic AT and whenever we visit our parents’ house for the weekend, we find it too small for our baby's stuff (stroller, bags, etc.). This is why I’m now considering a bigger car with a budget of P1.2 million.

I'm now finding it difficult to look for a spacious multipurpose vehicle that’s within my budget. My only options are the Toyota Innova and the Kia Carens. Both cars look good but they don’t excite me much.

Then the Chevrolet Orlando 1.8 LT was launched and I told myself that this is exactly what I want and what I need. It's within my budget, too. My wife and I went to the showroom and we both liked it! We liked how the car looks, its space and its versatility. But when I researched about the vehicle and its performance, and the reputation of Chevrolet in the Philippines, I became a little hesitant to buy the MPV.

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I have read negative reviews on the Orlando in the European market, and on the Cruze as well since the MPV is based on the sedan's platform. Here are some of the negative characteristics I learned: underpowered engine, sluggish transmission, poor aircon and poor resale value. I’m also concerned about the availability of Chevrolet parts in the Philippines.

My ultimate question now is this: should I buy the Chevrolet Orlando or not? If not, then what can you suggest? What do you know about Chevrolet Philippines and the performance and reliability of its cars?

Thank you Botchi and I hope to hear from you soon.

More power to Top Gear and to your column.


Hi, Kit!

Thank you for your email, and congratulations on getting married and having a newborn baby! Being a dad must be one of the most uplifting and satisfying moments in life!

It's always a problem finding good, affordable space, be it in real estate or cars. I can empathize with you on this one. I've always felt that people need to look beyond the traditional sedan and hatchback segments when buying a new family car.

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The Toyota Innova is indeed a good car. It ticks all the right rational requirements but I also have to agree that on the emotional side, the Innova is lacking. You might want to check out the 2012 Toyota Innova though.

The Kia Carens is, in my opinion, a smart buy. It has a powerful CRDi diesel engine, and space for five in a Euro-themed design. It looks handsome and confident as MPVs go, but then again, I can understand why the Carens also fails to excite.

Now we move to the Chevrolet Orlando. I have yet to drive the Orlando myself and have not even been able to give it a thorough once-over even on the showroom floor. But I have been impressed with Chevrolet cars of late, particularly the Cruze in diesel trim. I was able to drive the Cruze 1.8 with manual transmission and have to admit that it didn't feel fast, but was able to hit 180 to 190kph with a little more to give, when I thought it would never even get past 170kph at best. The chassis is bigger, and is laden with a lot of sound deadening material that helps comfort and refinement. Subjectively, all this weight makes the Cruze feel slow, stunting acceleration and responsiveness in particular. Trust me, it drives really well. But I'd agree that more power can help improve excitement and overall driving experience. The Orlando, with even more heft and mass to haul around, will feel even slower, but methinks (an opinion of course) that it will be adequate, to say the least, when it comes to hauling three adults, your baby and necessary gear.

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A lot of cars tend to get negative online reviews in other markets, but the reality of it is that people have different standards and expectations, more so in other parts of the world. What is okay or acceptable to us, might not be so in the rest of the world because conditions are different, and market demands and priorities are different.

The best thing to do is to schedule a test drive with the Orlando and find out for yourself. Bring your family, too, so they can help you make a sound decision.

As for the local distributor, I have absolute faith in the new group that is now running the Chevrolet, The Covenant Car Company (TCCCI). Since they took over the brand a few years back, Chevrolet's image has improved in the Philippines. You'll also find more Chevrolet cars on the road (both old and new). The TCCCI people know what they are doing, having been in the industry for a good amount of time. Just so you know, it is the same group that also handles Volvo and Hyundai in our country so competence, professionalism, and a good understanding of customer needs and requirements are something these people have in spades.

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You might also want to consider buying a compact SUV like the Mitsubishi ASX: five-seater with decent boot space. In front-wheel-drive trim in either automatic INVECS III or manual, it is surprisingly fuel efficient.

I hope this helps. Good luck and regards to your family! God bless and drive safe!

Botchi Santos
Consumer editor

Lost in a sea of cars and not quite sure which one to get? Click here to email your car query so Botchi can help you pick the right vehicle!

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