Chevy Bolt EV Review
Chevrolet Electric Cars

Chevy Bolt EV Review

Chevy Bolt EV Review
4.3
Expert Rating

Enter on a beautiful sunny day in in California. The would be camera pans down over a dealership and follows a customer inside. The customer walks in and inquires about the Chevy Bolt EV. The salespersons replies back with “Chevy Volt?” in affirmation. This, for the most part, sums up my experience when talking to people about the Chevy Bolt, save for those that joined me on a trip a few weeks ago to Palo Alto, California to drive Chevy’s first long range all electric car. That all being said, I’m happy to report that the moniker is perhaps the biggest crux of this all electric car. So keep reading my review of the Chevy Bolt review to learn everything, or most things you need to know when buying this 100%, no gasoline car.

Overview

Range: 238 miles on a single charge
Model: Bolt
Availability: Feb 2017


Summary: The first long range all electric car that won’t destroy your bank.

What We Liked

  • Price/range ratio is unlike any other car on the market
  • Excellent driving dynamics
  • Android Auto and CarPlay

What We Didn’t

  • Small trunk-ish (16.9 cubic feet)
  • Styling and design language is close to a mini-van

What You Should Know About the Chevy Bolt

Range is just over 200 miles. You’ll get more with a mindful foot, though the car does a remarkable job of managing energy consumption through gauges (plus you can hand brake with a paddle behind the steering wheel). Fear not about outside temperature issues, at least to a large degree, as Chevy has leveraged the power of liquid cooling to manage the battery cell’s temperature and in turn provide an optimal atmosphere. Range anxiety will kick in when there is around the 20-30 miles left in the “tank”. And the reason I state that is because I believe the Bolt’s computer does an admirable job of predicting range. Which is to say at no time in my day of driving did I see the range bounce around, though it wasn’t often that I was flooring it.

Chevy Bolt EV

It seats 5, though 5 adults could be a bit of squeeze.

It seats 5, though I’d imagine it could be a squeeze with 5 adults. But 4 of us went to SFO in it with no problems. I sat in the back behind the driver who is probably 5′ 10″ and I had no problems with head or leg room. That said, the trunk is smaller. In fact, the entire capacity of the Bolt (94.4 cubitc feet – 16.9 in the trunk) is evidently smaller than a Prius.

Update: as one commenter pointed out, the total capacity of the Bolt is actually listed as higher than that of the Prius (94.4 vs 93.7 respectively). However, anecdotally I still stand by my testament; the 2015 Prius volume feels bigger than the Bolt. That said, the Prius does have a larger trunk (21.6 cubic feet) which might explain why it feels larger. And to that end, perhaps Toyota got creative in other areas that I’m not cognizant of.

I know the latter isn’t an electric car, but many will be looking at that when considering the Bolt. I would have liked to see more space in the trunk as I believe it was just beyond unusable for long road trips, provided of course you have more than 2 people in the car. Chevy heavily pushed this as a family car to us, but the reality is that with strollers and such it really isn’t practical. Sorry Chevy.

Chevy Bolt EV Back Seat

Im over 6-foot and didn’t feel too much of a squeeze in the rear.

The battery pack is the base of the car and as a result gives a fairly open feeling at least in the front of the vehicle. Things get pretty conventional in the back seat in terms of space, which I already touched on. But the reason I mention that is that the i3, which we reviewed a few years ago and did this zany video, feels entirely different than most if not all cars.

Driving Dynamics

I was super impressed with the driving dynamics with the Chevy Bolt. Too many cars feel unstable at high speed. Not so with the Bolt. Both at highway and surface road speeds the Bolt has an uncanny amount of zippiness to it and stability. Lane changes at 65-70 mph feel controlled and planted. Moreover, it takes little to manage this car and keep it in the lane. I know that might sound like a “totally obivy” thing, but if you drive enough cars you learn quickly what is and isn’t stable. And believe me, it’s not always price reflective, as BMW’s 7 series, their most recent one, in my experience, is not this, at least on highways.

Chevy Bolt EV

Chevy Bolt EV Trip computer – on the right is remaining range.

Because the battery pack is in the floor of the car, the Bolt’s center of gravity, like Tesla, is super low. This adds to its stability. There is of course a limit here, but given the car’s class, I didn’t feel as though I ever came close to it.

If I took anything away from the Bolt, is that it its ride comfort is a touch on the tighter, or less springy side. In short this equates to the aforementioned stability but also makes the car less comfortable than some “competitors” in the space, such as the Prius.

Pick up? In the words of many lovely Italian archetypes: forget about it! The Bolt has some kick, unlike the Spark EV. You’ll get to 60mph in just under 6.5 seconds. So in other words 6.499999, because “the under” is a Chevy quote. For posterity’s sake that’s all thanks to the equivalent of 200hp and 266 lb-ft of torque.

The Special Rear View Mirror and Other Tech

Chevy Bolt EV Mirror

Flip the switch and the rear view mirror turns into a rear view camera display.

The rear view in this car is special. How? With the flip of a switch it converts to a display that uses the rear view camera to display what’s behind you. Why is this cool? Because it effectively skips anything in the back seat that is blocking your view. In actual use I didn’t like driving with it on. However, I could see it being very useful with a full car load.

Other tech:

  • Android Auto/Car Play
  • Bluetooth Connectivity and optional Bose 6 speaker
  • 10.2″ Infotainment screen (no maps built-in)
  • 8″ driver screen

Charging the Chevy Bolt

Chevy Bolt EV Energy Break Down

A break down of how the Chevy Bolt used energy during our trip.

Just plug it in. Duh. But seriously. You’ll get 4 miles back for every hour you charge on your home’s normal outlet, a 110 volt. Upgrade things, as in install a home charge, and that time drops. Total time for a full charge on a 240 is 9 hours, so you can pretty much double that number to figure out what a regular, conventional outlet will provide. A DC fast charger – you’ll need to add this option to the car when you buy it (it’s costs $750 – two extra holes at the top of port) – scores you 80% in 1 hour or 100% in 2 hours. Yes, like your phone’s battery, the last 20% takes much longer since the charge slows to more of a trickle to prevent damage to the battery. That all being said, the home charger, for $699, and can be rolled into the car’s purchase price allowing you to finance it. This doesn’t include installation cost but there should be plenty of info here.

Cost to Own The Chevy Bolt

Some of you are probably wondering what’s the up keep and maintenance on the Chevy Bolt. Well, the first thing you should recognize is that you’ll have to go to a dealer to get all your work done – general mechanics just don’t have the tools.  The great news is that visits should be super few and far between for regular maintenance.  According to GM your first visit, on the official level, will be at 100,000 miles (still looking into the cost here). Say what?!?! I know. Hard to believe. But since there is no oil to change…you’ll of course need a tire rotation at 7,500 miles, but you should be able to get that done any where.

Chevy Bolt Trunk

The trunk, anecdotally speaking, is smaller than the Prius.

That said, the tires on the Bolt are special; they’re Michelin self seal tires that can stay spinning provided the whole is no larger than 3/16th – the hole seals itself. They’re also low rolling resistance. Tirerack has them for $149 a pop, and they’re officially called the Michelin Energy Saver A/S 215/50R17 all-season.

Chevy Bolt EV Review Wrap Up

Save for the styling – I’m just not into car’s like this but that’s a personal takeaway – and the lack of trunk space. The Chevy Bolt is the first all electric car that actually makes sense to me. The BMW i3 while cool just doesn’t have the range to warrant it as an everyday car. The Bolt can replace your everyday driver and more importantly be your only car given its range and driving dynamics. Acclimation to charging will surely have to come, but with time, and the proliferation of charging stations this burden will lessen.

Price of the Bolt starts at $37k for the LT. You can add stuff here and there or just jump to the Premier, which costs $44k all in. And that’s before any tax incentives. In California I believe you can still get back $10k total ($2500 from the state and $7500 from the Fed), so your cap cost is significantly reduced. That said, don’t wait too long, as the rebates and tax incentives will eventually dry up, at least on the federal side as it’s capped on the manufacturer level. With price in mind, I preferred the cloth interior over the leather, but the leather might add more long term value, especially if you have sticky fingered kids.

 

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7 Comments to Chevy Bolt EV Review

  1. blake121666

    I own a 2017 Chevy bolt. Here are some corrections for your review:

    1. You said range is “just over 200 miles”. 238 miles is 20% over 200 miles. And you could get 300 miles “with a mindful foot” as you say – 50% more than the 200 you say. It’s probably something of a quibble to you; but of course very very important when discussing this 200+ range milestone affordable (more or less) car.

    2. I’ve never been in a Prius but I googled and read that its interior space is 93.1 cu ft – which is lower than the 94.4 cu ft you write. I find the Bolt interior to be surprisingly very roomy for the car’s size. If you fold the single or double seat down in the back, there is considerable storage space. And if you take out the board horizontally dividing the trunk, you more undivided trunk space. All other reviewers tend to be surprised at the interior space. It is of course a rather small car though.

    3. Electric car charging goes about differently than you’ve assumed. The L2 charger (240 volt) in the car can charge at 7.2 kWh in an hour. That is done by pushing 240 volts at 30 amps into the batteries (240 * 30 = 7200). The battery pack is 60 kWh and so, ideally, it would take (60/7.2 = 8.33 hrs) to charge from 0 to 60 kWh. In reality, it takes about 9.5 hours due to overhead. The on-board charger can charge with 120 volt (L1) with either 8 amps or 12 amps. With 12 amp L1 charging the ideal rate would be (120 * 12 = 1.44) kW. Or 1.44 kWh in an hour. This is not half the amount as you suggest in your article, it is (1.44/7.2 = 0.2) the rate (2/10 as fast – not 5/10). So the L2 rate of 9.5 hours full charge would require 5 times the amount of time – about 50 hours in reality (L1 charging is actually a little less efficient and so it is about 5 * 10 hours in reality) Level 3 charging is a bit of a different animal. I don’t want to go over those details in this short space. Chevy advertises 90 miles range in about 30 minutes. Let’s just leave it at that.

    I thought my comment would be helpful to you. Please don’t interpret it otherwise.

    • Christen Costa

      Hey Blake, these are indeed super helpful. And yes, my knowledge of car charging is extremely cursory. Though I did ask for charging numbers and wrote them verbatim per Chevy.

      As for the space, I just don’t buy it. I realize there are hard facts, but the reality is that I drive a Prius almost weekly and can attest to the room being bigger than that of the Bolt. That said, the trunk is larger on the Prius and that might explain my observation. Nevertheless, I updated the post to explain this, which is more an observation.

      • blake121666

        Yes, L2 charging uses double each of the voltage and the amperage of L1 charging and therefore is 4 times faster. It’s actually over 5 times faster since it more than doubles the amperage (12A -> 30A).

        It’d be nice if the onboard charger were configurable because I have a 50A outlet and a 40A charger (Juicebox Pro). So I could theoretically charge at the rate of (240V * 40A) = 9.6 kWh in an hour or maybe even a little more, say 10 kWh in an hour and therefore drop the 9.5 hr maximum charge time to possibly 6 hrs (37% time reduction).

        BTW, I easily get 5 mi/kWh in the Bolt even with highway driving and could therefore drive 300 miles on the 60 kWh battery pack. The most I’ve driven so far is about 110 miles though. I think I might test its limits when warm weather arrives and drive to the beach 145 miles away from me and drive around down there on a weekend vacation. There are L3 chargers all along the way. I actually did this last year with my Chevy Spark EV. There are a significant number of fast chargers in my area in MD.

  2. Chris

    I guess the Spark EV I have sitting in my driveway, with a chevy logo on it, that I bought new from a Chevrolet dealership does not count as an EV? Chevy sold a whole lot more Spark EVs than the EV1…

    • Christen Costa

      Chris, that was an error on my part. I meant to say Long Range. You’re right, they’ve long sold the Spark EV, which I believe I mention in my post.

      • Nels Henderson

        Would also say maybe Spark EV has kick! Especially in a sport mode and compared to Prius. Looking forward to testing the Bolt though!

        • Christen Costa

          But at 400 lb/ft of torque you’d expect more :=). Prius has some immediate power off the line but that’s where it stops. Def get out and test the Bolt. It’s a great little car that some might argue isn’t so little.

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