MORE RANGE, LESS ANXIETY: 2020 CHEVROLET BOLT EV
Well, when I say less anxiety, what I really mean is I’m not watching the range every 2-minutes, at least not for the first quarter of usage. And don’t get me wrong, having the ability to go nearly 250 miles on a single electric change is fascinating stuff – for an electric car; however, when a gasoline power car says it has 30 miles of range left, it really means you can go about 70 miles and there’s a 99% chance you’ll find a fueling station within those miles. But when an electric car claims the same range, it really means you have probably 15 miles left and there’s a good chance you’ll sweat off 5lbs upon arriving to the nearest charging point with only 2 miles left to go. And hopefully you brought a distraction for the next couple hours.
Since the launch of the Chevrolet Bolt, it has been one of the more range capable electric cars next to Tesla. With having over 240 miles of range, it was the ideal commuter that didn’t need to be plugged in at every destination. Going forward into 2020, Chevrolet has tweaked some of its engineering and battery pack to help produce upwards of 260 miles of range. Giving it an additional 20 miles may not seem like a lot, but without having to upgrade its onboard 200-horsepower high-capacity electric motor, they altered the 288 cells from its liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack to store up to 66-kilowatt of power.
Producing zero noise, the Bolt sounds futuristic – like it’s straight of the old 90’s cartoon series, The Jetsons. But as soon as I put my foot down to see if it really could get to 60-mph in 6.5-seconds, the chirping of the tires grasping for grip just goes to show this thing really scoots – although with 266lb-ft of torque, I suppose it should. And then I lost 15 miles of range… oh dear.
During my time with the Bolt, I discovered it manages highway energy much better than its city life. It uses an impressive way to regenerate energy having the potential to recoup up to 70-kilowatts of power out of a maximum 160-kilowatt. Unfortunately, however, while it may only sip the miles on the highway during streamline conditions, it charging ability is a different matter. Unless someone has access to a DC Fast Charging system, the Bolt does take quite a bit of time to refill its energy. Under the usage of an ordinary 110-volt house plug, it took nearly 23 hours to charge up just one quarter of its energy, which equivalents to roughly 30 miles of range. Using a standardized charging station (not a quick charge) it can take upwards of 4-6 hours to gain roughly 50-60 miles of range. Utilizing a DC Fast Charging however, the Bolt does have the ability to re-energize itself in 30 minutes with 100-miles of range.
Given its small stature, it is relatively lively as it darts around the pesky polluting giants. Its steering is nicely weighted and while I would desire more road feedback, it responds rather quickly. Like a go-kart, most of the weight feels more centralized providing a somewhat even weight distribution which can bring in some when zipping through the city round-a-bouts. Despite being on the husky side of the scale, there is smoothness to its ride. Rolling on 17-inch wheels helps soak up some of the rough stuff.
With a small car however comes a big package. Inside, the Bolt has got the spunk bug. Using an array of odd materials over the dash and door panels there is a futuristic feel to its interior. Using a nicely sized 10.2-inch high-definition display, the system is easy to navigate and control while on the move – I can watch how poorly I’m using my energy, or shuffle through the incorporated Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. While the seats sit on a thin piece of foam over hard plastic, they are fairly comfortable – it’s only at the hard bumps that I’m reminded there is a plastic panel behind the seat. There is also a great deal of room for rear passengers; with its boxy high roofline, headroom will never be an issue.
An entry-level Bolt LT starts at $37,495 – our sampler, the Bolt Premier starts at an even more hefty $41,895 and will upgrade it to feature leather seats, 360-degree around view camera, and the latest safety gear. Take on a few extra like the Driver Confidence II Package and the Infotainment Package, the Bolt can see over $44,000. And unfortunately, as far as my research goes, the EV Tax Credit has also ended for the bolt as of March 2020.
For as quirky and lovable the Bolt is, there is a hard realization here and its with Tesla. The standard entry Model 3 with 250-miles of range starts at $37,990, $500 more than the Bolt. The Chevrolet Bolt may produce more range and provide less anxiety, but its compact stature and performance traits are starting to go against an electric car giant.
Model: 2020 CHEVROLET BOLT EV
Base Price: $37,495
Starting Trim Price: $41,895
As Tested: $44,130
Color: CAJUN RED
Engine: ELECTRIC DRIVE UNIT
Horsepower/Torque: 200-HORSEPOWER / 266 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: ELECTRONIC PRECISION SHIFT – SINGLE SPEED
Drivetrain: FRONT-WHEEL DRIVE
Electric Range: 260 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±6.5 SECONDS