This is a big step forward for Geely Philippines. With the Okavango, the Chinese brand enters the class of midsize seven-seat high-riders—one of the most crowded and competitive segments in the local market. Not that anyone needed reminding.
This midsize crossover definitely sets itself apart with that name. It’s known as the Hao Yue back at home, but our version borrows its name from Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Unesco’s 1,000th World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. The sound of it is very...not Chinese. Distinct, let’s give it that. But how else does the Geely Okavango distinguish itself from the competition?
Prices and variants
For starters, through pricing. Local distributor Sojitz G Auto Philippines (SGAP) already released the variants and prices last month, just before accepting preorders. Here they are:
2021 Geely Okavango
- Geely Okavango 1.5 Comfort – P1,208,000
- Geely Okavango Urban – P1,328,000
Within Geely’s Philippine portfolio, the Okavango sits between the Coolray and the Azkarra in terms of pricing. Within the midsize-SUV class? Its price difference to the segment’s top sellers is very easily a six-digit figure. Quite a way to get attention.
Where it also differs from most midsize SUVs is in construction. The Okavango has a unibody chassis instead of the usual ladder frames of its contemporaries. It measures 4,835mm long, 1,900mm wide, and 1,785mm tall, and rides on a 2,815mm wheelbase. That makes it longer than, say, the Toyota Fortuner and the Mitsubishi Montero Sport; the Nissan Terra has a length advantage. All three Japanese models are taller, however, and handily exceed the Okavango’s 194mm ground clearance.
Let’s talk styling. Up front, Geely’s signature grille is flanked by full LED headlamps with LED daytime running lights. The grille itself—plus the space enclosing that and the headlamps—mirrors the shape of the Geely badge. Below sits a trapezoidal lower grille with a vertical stack of three LED foglights on either side.
The lines accenting the wheel arches mimic the trapezoidal strake and chrome trim on the bottom half of the Okavango’s side profile. When illuminated, the turn-signal repeaters also serve as interesting accents on the side mirrors, which are auto-folding on the Urban variant. This higher spec gets roof rails and 18-inch alloys wrapped in 225/55 tires. The Comfort variant, meanwhile, wears 17-inch rims with 215/60 rubber.
Nice bit of continuity: The shape of the turn-signal repeaters is also used for the taillights and the rear foglights. What’s most noteworthy about the back end, though, is the expanse of blank space on the tailgate. The Porcelain White paint job of this unit here only seems to emphasize how bare it is. Speaking of exterior colors, three other choices are available: Storm Gray, Luna Silver, and Marble Black.
Our first thought upon seeing the Okavango’s interior is that it must have pained the designers to have circular gauges in the instrument panel. In here’s a showcase of polygons with at least four sides; even the engine’s push-button starter is square, and the steering wheel’s bottom has been flattened to avoid perfect circularity.
“Well,” we thought, “surely the cupholders are rou—nope. They’re not.” The only other round thing you’ll easily spot is the drive mode selector.
The 2-3-2 seating layout has a reclining third row that splits 50:50. Geely says the cabin can be configured in 19 different ways depending on which seats you keep up or fold down. With all of them up, rear cargo area is 257 liters. Fold down the last row and that expands to 1,200 liters; get rid of the second row, too, and you have 2,050 liters of loading space.
At the head of the center stack is a 10.25-inch multimedia touchscreen with QD Link. Audio output is via four or eight speakers depending on which variant you’re in. Power adjustment for the front seats is also exclusive to the Urban spec. Both variants do get three-zone automatic climate control, with vents available up to the third row.
Engine and specs
More deviations from the midsize-SUV formula: Under the hood of the Okavango is the same mild-hybrid gasoline powertrain used by the Azkarra. No turbodiesels here. The 1.5-liter turbopetrol three-cylinder engine gets assistance from a 48V Electric Motor Synergy system to produce 190hp at 5,500rpm and 300Nm of torque at 1,500-4,000rpm, delivered to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. No all- or four-wheel drive here, either; the drive mode selector instead lets you choose between Eco, Comfort, or Sport.
The vehicle is underpinned by MacPherson struts up front and a multilink setup in the back. Brakes are vented and solid discs fore and aft, respectively, with both variants getting ABS and EBD, brake assist, and auto brake hold.
You don’t get a whole lot of extras here. The Coolray’s self-parking feature, for example, comes to mind, but the Okavango makes do with rear sensors and a 360-degree-view camera for the Urban variant (the Comfort gets sensors and a simpler reverse camera view). Also exclusive to the top spec are additional side and curtain airbags.
The standard features across the range may be nothing new or revolutionary, but important nonetheless: dual front airbags, Isofix mounts for the middle row, hill-descent control and hill-start assist, electronic stability control, a tire pressure monitor, and a remote start system. Finally, the Okavango gets a CN95 cabin filter as standard to prevent “particles, dust, aerosols and virus hosts with diameters larger than 0.3 microns” from entering the cabin.
What do you think of the Geely Okavango so far? Stand by for our feature story on this new midsize crossover to read about our first driving impressions.