Excellent ride and handling

  • Draws on proven Cruze vehicle dynamics
  • Stiff body structure
  • Weight and space efficiencies achieved in suspension layout
  • Extensive array of active and passive safety features

The new Chevrolet Orlando has been given an excellent start in life with the widely acclaimed Cruze as its base platform. The excellent ride and handling characteristics of the Orlando draw directly on these aspects of the Cruze, the first of a new generation of Chevrolets to employ the company’s latest chassis technologies. As a result the Orlando offers taut and responsive steering and body control together with a compliant and comfortable ride for excellent driver and passenger appeal.

Chevrolet Orlando 2011 Grill

Typically there is a divergence between a typical sedan and a family oriented MPV when it comes to vehicle dynamics and performance. With the Orlando Chevrolet has bridged this divide to match the dynamic performance of the Cruze to the versatility and practicality of a seven-seat MPV. This comes together with an impressive no compromise list of safety features, both active and passive.

At the heart of the Orlando’s impressive ride and handling is the BFI (body frame integral) structure that is amongst the stiffest in its class. This provides the solid foundation for stability on the road.

With the BFI concept the body and chassis frame are engineered as a single unit ensuring that a much higher level of torsional stiffness is achieved. An isolated engine cradle is employed to mount the engine and this contributes to the Orlando’s refined ride and low levels of noise and vibration in the passenger compartment.

The Orlando has a broad footprint with a wide track (1584mm front and 1588 rear) in proportion to the wheelbase (2760mm). This is a formula for an inherently stable and predictable handling characteristic.

Chevrolet Orlando 2011 Desert

While the suspension layout of the Orlando may be conventional, the difference that enhances ride and handling is in the detail. At the front the McPherson strut system incorporates side load compensation to reduce the sliding friction caused by bending loads under compression of the strut. The side load compensation feature allows the front wheels to be positioned further outwards in the design imparting a styling advantage in addition to the performance benefit.

The front springs have a unique design for improved performance under shock loadings. Hydraulic bushes on the front control arms – a feature normally reserved for higher end vehicles – provide further refinement and insulation from road noise. The control arms themselves are manufactured from aluminium with the reduced component weight contributing to improved suspension performance as well as lower overall vehicle weight.

At the rear the layout follows torsion beam convention but makes use of an advanced compound crank design with a double-walled, U-shaped profile rather than the traditional beam. This system offers an excellent balance between suspension control and weight and space efficiencies.

Chevrolet makes use of a patented magnetic-arc process to attach the beam to the trailing links in the compound crank system. This technology allows the thickness of the torsion beam to be varied and for different attachment angles between the beam and the trailing links to be used.

These manufacturing variables allow for the fine tuning of roll-rate and roll-steer characteristics of individual models according to engine specification and vehicle weight. The twisting characteristics of this layout have been the subject of intensive development for improved rear wheel steer characteristics and chassis responsiveness.

The space saving characteristic of the compound crank system contributes to a lower centre of gravity. It also allows for the 64-litre fuel tank to positioned low between the rear wheels.

Steering is via a rack-and-pinion system with electronic power assistance that provides a responsive steering action with excellent driver feedback and centre position feel. The steering system has been designed to be fast acting with less than three turns required lock-to-lock. The steering column can be adjusted for both height and reach for optimal driver comfort.

The Orlando’s braking system has been engineered to provide a high level of reserve capacity as a key safety consideration. Disc brakes are fitted all round – 300mm ventilated at the front, and solid 292mm diameter at the rear. Asbestos free organic linings are specified for improved wear rate, pedal feel and lower brake noise.

The ABS system fitted to all models in the Orlando range monitors inputs from all four wheels for optimised braking stability and braking distance. The vehicle’s stopping power in an emergency situation is enhanced by hydraulic brake assist (HBA).

Electronic Brake Force Distribution is an integral element of the ABS system that uses independent control of the rear brakes to improve stability and braking when cornering and ensures the effective loading of the rear brakes under heavy load conditions.

Traction Control (TCS) is a standard feature of the Orlando that provides electronic assistance to optimise traction when road conditions are loose or slippery. TCS makes use of both brake and engine interventions to enhance grip under acceleration in all road conditions.

The ABS control unit detects impending traction loss and signals the engine ECU to adjust the engine output accordingly. The system senses when the drive wheels are spinning faster than the road speed of the vehicle and intervenes with a momentary application of either front brake to correct the situation.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) uses the ABS and TCS functions in combination to provide another level of vehicle control. The ESC system provides precise anti-lock braking performance and control to counteract misjudgements on the part of the driver. ESC uses inputs from a yaw sensor, lateral accelerometer and steering angle sensor to assist in ensuring that the vehicle follows the direction of the front wheels. Individual brakes are applied selectively to control any oversteer or understeer condition during extreme conditions.