2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV
This week we are reviewing the Chevrolet Bolt in trim Premier with DC Fast charging. Our vehicle was assembled in the Lansing Grand River plant in the state of Michigan, USA and had an MSRP of $52785 CAD. We had first seen the Bolt with our own eyes at the 2015 Detroit auto show and knew Chevrolet had a winner on it's hands.
Fun Factor: 7
Can it Family: 7
Karaoke Friendly: 7
City Cruising: 10
The Bolt from the outside looks like any other hatchback. Nothing quirky would really tell you that it is a fully electric vehicle beside the EV badges placed strategically all over the car. When we picked up the vehicle from Chevrolet, we'd heard some bias about electric cars; it turns out they are absolutely wrong! We were impressed with the Bolt; we couldn't see a future where EV's wouldn't play a significant role in transportation, beyond major metropolitan areas. It will also be a more enjoyable commute when travelling longer distances. With a powerful electric engine producing 200hp and 266 lb-ft of torque, Chevrolet announces a 0-96km/h in 6.5 seconds, we actually achieved the 0-100km/h in 6.45 seconds when you compare that to a base VW GTI that reaches 100km/h in 6.5 seconds you can imagine how powerful that little electric car is. Yes, all that torque comes from the front wheels and will cause unwanted torque steer since you have all that power right from the get-go. Most Bolt EV users might never need to floor or come close to the Bolt's limits as it feels quick from the starting line. Accelerating from a red light and leaving traditional cars left behind never gets old, your passengers may not like you for doing it as the acceleration can feel so hard they may get motion sickness. Where the Bolt seems to be less agile is when taking corners at high speed; the low center of gravity and the high seating position provides a not so confident feeling when taking corners.
In our test, we really wanted to push the limits of the Bolt. We traveled over 450km leaving from Montreal fully charged, the car announced a driving range of a minimum 345 km to a maximum of 496 Km, with an average of 421km, if we continued to drive the same way we did earlier. The average displayed depends on your driving pattern. Typically, tests are done with just 2 passengers; we wanted to see if the range would be reduced considerably with the car at full capacity with 4 adults passengers and one child. Then, we thought, how could we make our route more difficult and make sure we would have the least possible charging options to see if we would get any range anxiety along the way? So we decided to drive down to the USA taking HWY 87 a route known not to have any fast chargers and a minimal amount of regular chargers, so we started our road trip in the direction of Plattsburgh, we chose to bypass the regular border crossing and instead drove to the one that had lower wait times, and that wasn't a straight drive. Jokingly or not the border patrol agent advised that we could not enter the US with our test car...would our planned trip suddenly be put to a halt?
Luckily the border patrol agent did let us pass, and we were able to continue our trip to our first stop in Plattsburgh. At that point, we had traveled 115km and had a little less than 75% of our range available; we decided to eat at a delicious restaurant called Grandma's Spanish Kitchen, we usually don't do shoutouts however the cuisine was to die for and is a must if you stop by Plattsburgh, NY. Since a free charger was available close by we thought we could charge the vehicle a little while having lunch, we found out at the end of our trip that we wouldn't even have needed to charge to get back home. This charger session gave us an additional range of 44km. We continued our way to Ausable Chasm to see the Hydroelectric dam and enjoy the rest of the day at the beach. Once we arrived at the destination, we had traveled 141km and had more than 75% of range left. We always drive 5 to 10km/h above the limit to replicate real-life use.
At the end of our day, we wanted to travel more as we had barely used any of our range. We decided to drive to Burlington, VT, we looked at the fastest way there, and it was by using a ferry, unfortunately, when arriving the ferry in Essex, was full and the next crossing would only be in 2 hours. At that point, we had driven 183km and still had enough range to drive back home. We decided to give it a try by using a different crossing and drove back to Plattsburgh to be able to cross to Burlington, VT. Before going onto the ferry we had traveled 237km, the battery showed us that we still had 60% of our battery. If we had only used this much battery, we would easily get home. Driving back home was a lot edgier than we had expected, as most of our route back home included steep inclines and saw our range go downhill faster than we could regenerate going downhill. At this point we still had the air conditioning on while driving on the HWY, we decided to turn it off as the outside temperature allowed it, while enjoying a beautiful sunset in front of us, this almost magically gave us another 30km of range. In the end, all these energy-saving techniques were not necessary. However, they may come in handy in case where you may have trouble finding a nearby charging station to increase range. We arrived in Montreal with a little bit more than 100km range left, so we decided to drive around a little more until we got the battery down to 5%. Then we decided to charge the Bolt to 80% and see how long it would take. The charging took a little bit more than an hour using a fast charger.
Now that we've shared our experience with our road trip in the Chevrolet Bolt, can it actually be a family car? We certainly think so, 4 adults can fit within the cabin and a small child in their car seat can also fit in the middle. You do want to make sure that a smaller person or a child always use the middle seat. Otherwise, it may reduce rear visibility. We also tested the Bolt with 3 children on the backbench and didn't hear any complaints. The outer 2 back seats are comfortable, while the middle seat may need more bolstering in our opinion to sit an adult, the bolstering will suffice, on the other hand, for children. As for the front seat passengers, the arrangement is alright, they are not the most uncomfortable seats we've been nor are they the best. They do strangely remind us of regional airplane seats. They are good for a short distance; however, on longer drives, the lack of lumbar support may be straining after a couple of hours inside the car. What really surprised us is that both the front & rear seats offered heated seats and that it comes standard equipment with the LT version including the heated steering wheel. Plenty of USB connectors even those that are in the back have 2 of them. The question I get asked a lot is if there is room for a stroller in the trunk, most strollers will not have any issues fitting in the trunk, thanks to the hatchback it will actually be easier to fit one compared to a Tesla 3 narrower trunk. During our road trip, we were able to fit a cooler and a small stroller and still had plenty of space. The trunk does offer a divider that can be used to store smaller items.
How is the electric consumption of the Chevy Bolt, we've seen a city usage of 12.58kWh/100km, and on the HWY we've seen an average 15.58kWh/100km. We average 14.07kWh/100km over a distance travelled of more than 750km. Our test included some spirited driving, mountain driving, and using air conditioning when travelling at highway speeds. We've found that the kWh consumption is very reasonable for a car its size and people will achieve with ease the 383km range. Naturally, when turning on the air conditioning, you'll start with a penalty of 30km. We will see if we can do a similar test in the winter to determine how driving the Bolt in extreme temperatures will affect the driving range. If it is anything like other electric cars we've tested in the past, you can see a 15-25% drop in range depending on outside temperatures.
How's the Chevy Bolt on the HWY? For starters, the quiet cabin is refreshing, and the lack of engine vibration makes driving the Bolt enjoyable when having conversations. We also found that the sound-deadening was well done to keep road noise to a minimum. Accelerating at HWY speeds is very quick and speeding up for take over is done in a satisfying manner, other drivers may be surprised by the Bolt's capabilities. The Bolt offers so much tech in a compact format, such as Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert making any drive on the HWY pleasant.
The Bose® Premium 7-speaker system found in the Premier Trim of the Bolt is good; we usually don't like the Bose sound systems. However, the one in the Bolt is well balanced and is pleasant to listen to a variety of music styles. The infotainment is a large 10.2" diagonal colour touch-screen that offers lots of information starting from charging setting to having a mode if you don't want your teenager going crazy with the Bolt. The touch screen itself can sometimes feel delayed when you press down on the screen; it can take one second before your command is registered.
How is fitting a car seat in the Bolt? The Bolt offers 2 ISOFIX ports that are hidden within the car seat, pushing the leather aside to install the car seat as the ports are still easy of access. We would prefer to see easier access to these ports so that installing would be more straightforward. The rear anchor port can be easily attached when the trunk is open. When two car seats are installed, the middle seat can only be used by children. As for toddler or children opening the door, it is simple for them to open the door by themselves from the outside and to enter the car and to take place is also simple, if you don't mind your children opening the windows these controls are also near to them and can be easily operated by them, this also goes for the heated seats.
Now where the Bolt is the most pleasant to drive is in the city while being stuck in traffic is not enjoyable it is less stressful, and we had the peace of mind knowing we're not emitting pollutants. Not having to worry about wasting fuel while at a still stand stuck in traffic was a relief. Also operating a test vehicle for a week often costs us almost $60-$100 depending on the size of the car. Operating the Bolt for a whole week cost us $15, and ¾ of this was using a fast charge. The rest of the charging was done at home on the first day we received the Bolt, and after seeing the low consumption we saw no need to charge the Bolt daily, we can easily see people charge the vehicle once every week or even every other week if your commute in the city is less than 30km which is above the North American average. Coming to the point where we would see improvement is the 360 degrees camera, it's resolution is too low resolution. This seems to have already been addressed on the 2020 Bolt which should be getting an HD camera. The ease to park is also something to consider when looking to purchase the Bolt. Smaller drivers will enjoy the high seating position, and excellent visibility will make zipping around town in the Bolt never wanting to go back to an ICE vehicle again.
Why would we buy the Chevrolet Bolt and what we like: The cabin is so quiet, it's soothing, the modern interior light design of the dashboard and the great sound system. The dynamic accelerations and the energy efficiency of the regeneration system, what we noticed on shorter trips such as grocery shopping that we would break even in the energy used as we would be able to generate as much energy as we used hence not reducing the autonomy of the battery. More on the range, we can easily see ourselves only needing to charge the car once a week or so. We also appreciated the generous trunk space, also maybe because there's more legroom than in other vehicles maybe because the inside has fewer accessories to maximize energy saving.
Why wouldn't we buy the Chevrolet Bolt and what we didn't like: On longer trips, the seats start feeling less comfortable, and the interior can feel empty, it's probably to save weight & energy, but you'll be missing things like electric seat adjustment, automatic tailgate, there are no temperature controls in the back. The reverse camera and 360 degrees camera have a lower resolution, and the vehicle doesn't take corners as well as other EV's