With oil prices climbing, it’s no surprise that more and more people are preferring hybrids and EVs (all-electric vehicles) especially now that charging stations are becoming more accessible plus the ranges on these cars are far from what it used to be when they were first introduced. You can now travel great distances and speeds without worrying about needing to charge multiple times.
There are a lot of all-electric vehicles out in the market. Almost every brand, if not all, has at least one model in their line up that is either a hybrid or an all-electric. One of the most talked about EVs today is the Chevy Bolt, it's affordable, spacious for a hatchback and has a driving range, at 416 km (259 miles) in a single charge, that can beat most in its price range. It is quick, quiet and, of course, because it’s totally electric, it does not have any greenhouse emissions.
The Bolt is an amazing example of how far the EV evolution has come, unfortunately, it’s not perfect, a few issues could have been addressed by Chevy that would have made the Bolt a premium EV for its price. Like the infotainment touchscreen for example, a built it sat nav system would have been very convenient. The cabin may be spacious, but it lacks when it comes to comfort.
Even with a price tag of just $40,000 is the Chevy Bolt really a good buy? In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of the Bolt and see how it compares to other all-electric vehicles in the market to help you decide whether this little hatchback is a good value for your money.
Engine and Performance
Like most electric vehicles, the Bolt EV gives you instantaneous response once you step on the accelerator, and low-end torque gives you enough twist to get you moving immediately from a standstill. This all thanks to its electric motor that can produce a maximum of 200 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. It is paired with a single-speed transmission and is powered by a 60-kWh lithium-ion battery pack which can be fully charged in 10 hours using a standard 240-volt outlet and will give you 416 km (259 miles) before needing to charge again. More than enough to go to do your daily errands or even a weekend road trip and get you back home. If you’re in a hurry, though, you can charge it for as little as 30 minutes with a DC Fast Charging station to get you at least 160 km (100 miles) of range. Driving around the city, the Bolt gives you amazing throttle response, on the highway, though, responses are felt a bit later but still enough to pass with ease and merging isn’t a problem either.
The firm brake pedal on the Bolt gives you more than enough stopping power, but when on L mode and the regenerative braking system activated which recharges the battery every time you lift your foot off the gas means you’ll hardly step on the brakes at, when driving around at slow speeds that is. You can also use the paddle on the left side of the steering wheel to give you on-demand regenerative braking which will stop the car completely.
Interior and Comfort
Inside, the Bolt is not as top-spec as its performance, though it is easy to get in, even for tall people thanks to its height-adjustable seats and telescopic steering wheel. The instrument panels on the other hand can do a bit more love. The dashboard is made mostly with hard plastic, even with the instrument cluster’s crisp looking digital display and the textured materials to accentuate it, overall it still feels cheap considering the Bolt’s base price is above thirty grand.
Chevy could have arranged the interface buttons to make it more user-friendly, like making use of the three non-functional buttons under the climate control panel, which would make it easier for the driver and passenger to navigate the MyLink infotainment system.
Speaking of the infotainment system, the central 10.2 inch touch screen looks modern and stylish enough for the money you’re paying, but a built in satellite navigation system could be another addition that would really come in handy. It makes up a bit, though, with modern features like an option to display range information and battery usage, it also comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a couple of USB ports, a WiFi hotspot and satellite radio all hooked up to an audio system with six speakers all around the cabin. If you’ve got the cash to spare, you should opt for the seven-speaker Premium Bose audio system, two additional USB ports at the rear, and even a wireless charging device.
As mentioned above the Bolt is easy to get into thanks to all four doors that open wide, it also has a tall roofline that goes all the way to the back and hatch. The cabin may be narrow at first glance but there is no lack of headroom and legroom. The tiny hatchback can comfortably fit four adults and maybe even five. When it comes to cargo and storage spaces, it does pretty well for a small crossover, behind the seat is a 16.9 cubic feet of cargo space where you can easily fit five carry-on bags and the cabin is littered with compartments for personal belongings like your smartphones, notably the one directly behind the electronic shifter and the center console. If you need more space, the rear seats are foldable and will give you almost 40 cubic feet more of storage space, more than that of the Nissan Leaf that has a total of 30 cubic feet with the rear seats folded and even the Hyundai Kona with a 45.8 cubic feet of total cargo space.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Chevy Bolt a five-star rating, the highest rating possible from the NHTSA, unfortunately it wasn’t named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IISH). The small crossover is featured with a list of modern safety and driver-assistance technologies like automatic high-beam headlights that turn on when the car senses that it is getting dark outside and is also linked to the steering system so it turns towards the direction you are steering, helping you navigate small and not well lit areas. It also has a forward-collision warning systems that sends out an audible alarm to the driver when the space between Bolt and the car in front is becoming too small, and if no action is done or if the car senses that the pressure applied to the brakes is not it enough to avoid a collision the automated emergency braking system will kick in. Another helpful driver-assistance feature, especially if you are a newbie driver, is the lane-keeping assist and lane-departure warning, it helps you keep your lane by using cameras to monitor the lines on the road and gently steers you car to keep it inside the lines, and unless a turn signal is on in that direction, the system warns you when you’re about to go outside the lines. Although the Bolt has enough visibility for the driver, the addition of the blind-spot monitoring system, rear parking sensor and rear cross-traffic alert will help you maneuver your vehicles specially when parking in tight spaces.
The Bolt has a very low center of gravity, especially for a compact crossover and handles more like a hot hatch than a crossover, this is thanks to its electric powertrain and an overall curb weight of 3585 lb. Thanks to its 200 hp and 266 lb-ft torque electric motor, merging onto the highway is easy and passing power is there whenever you need it. When on L mode, the regenerative braking is activated whenever you lift your foot on the gas, this will be particularly useful when driving around the city and traffic isn’t really favorable. Driving with just one pedal will be a welcome addition to your comfort. And in case you need a little more stopping power, a paddle behind the steering wheel gives you access to regenerative braking on demand and helps the car come to a full stop. You must be wondering how the brake lights activate to let the car behind you know that you are slowing down if you don’t step on the brake pedal. When on L mode, the brake lights are activated by the negative Gs that are produced when the regenerative brakes kick in as you let go of the gas.
Despite the road sounds that can sometimes be heard inside the cabin, overall the Bolt is a fun car to drive, even on mountain passes thanks to its smooth steering response. Be careful when driving at high speeds though, because the car tends to be a bit bouncy on uneven roads and it's easy to give it too much throttle since it’s an electric car with a single-speed transmission and lacks audible cues to let you know how much power you are giving it.
Compared to the Hyundai Kona EV
The Hyundai Kona EV is, as its name implies, an electric version of the gasoline powered Hyundai Kona. Visually it looks sportier and more aggressive than the Chevy Bolt. Inside the Kona has a more premium look and feel than the Bolt, but the latter has a better infotainment system, a larger cargo space (45.8 cubic feet vs. 56.6 cubic feet), and is almost 5 grand cheaper. Range and MPGe is negligible as the Kona has 120 MPGe rating vs the Bolts 118, and a range of 258 miles, almost exactly like the Bolt’s 259.
Compared to the Tesla Model 3
Tesla is the brand name most associated with all-electric cars, and it is no surprise the the Model 3 has a lot of features you can never get on the Bolt, like sem-autonomous safety features like Enhanced Autopilot, or quicker acceleration, a range of 310 miles and a high quality interior befitting a luxury car but all that of course comes with a hefty price tag, plus the Bolt can offer more cargo space and it comes standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay which the Tesla doesn’t have.
Chevrolet Bolt LT – the base trim LT starts at $36,620 and comes standard with the MyLink Infotainment system, 10.2-inch central touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, WiFi hotspot, Bluetooth connectivity, two USB ports, six-speaker audio system, automatic climate control, remote and push start, Teen Driver safety system and a review camera.
For an additional $500 you get the Comfort and Convenience Package which gives you leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel and front seats.
The Driver Confidence Package gives you rear cross traffic alert, lane change alert, rear parking sensors and blind spot monitoring for an additional $495.
Another $495 gives you lane keep assist and lane departure warning, front collision warning system with automatic emergency braking system and automatic headlights, with the Driver Confidence II Package.
Chevrolet Bolt Premier – the top tier Premier comes standard with the first two packages from the LT trim, plus a false cargo floor for additional storage space, rear center armrest, leather upholstery, heated rear seats and a 360-view parking camera system.
Besides the Driver Confidence II package, you can also add the Infotainment Package for $595 which will give you a seven-speaker premium Bose audio system, two additional rear USB ports, and a wireless charging device.
If you can let the average looking interior, we can say that the Chevy Bolt is definitely a good buy overall. It’s fun to drive thanks to its 200 hp 60 kWh powered electric motor, good steering feel and response, amazing range and huge cargo space. With a price tag of as low $37,459 the Bolt has great value for money compared to most of its competitors in the EV market.