Test Drive Notes Library
- Practical. The Bolt felt like a breakthrough when it first arrived. A compact-on-the-outside, airy-on-the-inside, tall hatchback that wasn’t just an old internal combustion car with batteries wedged into every free inch. It was tailor-made to be electric, with a large, skateboard-style battery pack built into the floor, and well over 200 miles of range. It seemed to be the equivalent of the first VW Beetle or Honda Civic. A people’s car. It still is, in many ways. It’s just that other car makers have caught up, and in some ways surpassed it.
- A real car. Unlike some of the early EVs that gave you range anxiety, the Bolt can be driven like a normal car, pretty much without ever thinking about its propulsion system. If you plug in at home overnight, you should always have more than enough range for day to day driving. Obviously, if you’re going to see the in-laws three states away, it’s even better to have a Bolt, because then you can say “sorry, can’t make it. Not enough range.” But with 259 EPA-rated miles of range, there’s simply no reason to worry about range 360 days a year.
- Airy. The interior feels much bigger than it appears to be. It’s supplemented by a clean lay out. It’s gives off a sunny and spacious feeling, with a slightly higher than usual seating position, due to the battery placement, which is a plus for a lot of drivers. The cargo area isn’t huge, but it’s enough for day to day items, and the seats fold down when you need to haul 120 pounds of dog food for your St. Bernard, Angelo.
- Quiet. Obviously, without an internal combustion engine revving, there’s no engine noise. But Chevy also did a good job with road and wind noise.
- Quick. Electric motors have plenty of torque, which means the Bolt is as zippy as you want it to be. It scoots. There’s a sport mode if you want it to be even a bit more responsive, but using that all the time cuts into your range.
- Visibility. The Bolt has a huge windshield, providing an expansive view of the gas stations you’ll never have to visit again.
- Handling. At modest speeds, the low center of gravity of the batteries provides the kind of ballast that Porsche and BWM drivers used to dream of. Compared to how high in the car a massive gasoline engine sits, the weight of the Bolt is primarily near the axles, providing excellent, flat cornering. It’s fun to drive around town.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Higher speed handling. We were so impressed with the handling in town that we took the Bolt out to one of our twisty roads to see how it did at slightly greater speeds. The answer: not as well. At higher speeds, the body leaned, we felt the weight of the vehicle, and driving became less comfortable. So, for those of you who care about such things — Audi sells a nice, $75,000 e-tron. And Mini sells an electric Cooper if you don’t care about range.
- Ride. This is the biggest drawback to the Bolt. Bumps were really transmitted through the chassis and into the driver’s patoot. We began to live in dread of frost heaves.
- Slow charging. Because of it’s large battery, the Bolt is slow to charge. It’s not a problem if you’re plugging in every night — and realistically, most people will drive 20, 30 or 100 miles in a day, and then recharge before the battery even runs down. But if you wait until the battery is near empty to charge, you could easily be looking at 10-12 hours of charging time, even with a level II 240V outlet. Far longer with a standard table lamp outlet.
- Basic interior. We hesitate to use the word “cheap,” so let’s go with “basic.” Especially the cheap seats. That said, the Bolt is designed to be a Chevy, not a Cadillac. But our test Bolt made no upscale pretensions, despite a price (loaded with options) of just under $44,000 before federal and state rebates.
- Some safety optional. Depending on the trim level, you’ll have to pay for the electronic safety gear you should be getting standard these days.
- More options now. The Kia Niro EV costs about the same as the Bolt, and is more comfortable.
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