What is it?
All electric 2020 Chevy Bolt. There is no gas engine as a safety net.
My test vehicle in LT trim was $49,243. It starts at $44,998
How does it look outside?
The Bolt is an all business hatchback with a wisp of cuteness. It looks a bit like it was squeezed in a vice grip. But there are more objectionable cars out there.
How does it look inside?
People gripe that the Bolt’s price should include a more swish interior. I didn’t mind it a bit. The seats are cloth, which make sense in a cold climate, and minimizes the need to use the seat heater which puts a drain on the battery. There are hard plastics, but they don’t come in contact with your body much. The dash is partially decorated in a weird, textured plastic that is a bit like a 1960’s Formica countertop. I didn’t mind that either.
How does it function?
There are many pluses here. There’s vast amounts of glass in the windshield and the side widows, which makes for great visibility and the feeling of spaciousness. For city driving with so much action to compute like bike lanes, pedestrians walking while reading Shakespeare on their phones, and illegally parked vehicles-the wide angle visibility is a comfort.
The front seats are suited for long drives, the backseats are quite high so there’s no feeling of claustrophobia.
Getting in and out of the Bolt makes you feel young again. The seats are about hip height, so you neither plunk down into the seat as in a sports car, or climb up to the seat as you would do in many SUV’s. This is very welcome.
From the driver’s seat operating the functions on the centre display screen is easy.
Headroom is generous, and I easily fit a pile of firewood into the trunk.
How does it drive?
Well, here is where I was bowled over by the Bolt. It’s great to drive. Of course the torque from the electric motor delivers smooth, strong power.
The steering is deftly weighted, not too stiff, and not too gooey. The brakes are solid and feel normal for an EV.
Best of all is the suspension. It handles the potholed, cratered, cracked roads of Hamilton with an agile, cloud-like touch. I looked forward to driving it everyday.
How does it measure up as an electric vehicle?
It’s fantastic. A full charge usually provides a range of 417 kilometres. Depending on driving habits it seems possible it would only need to be charged once a week. There is a Low setting which aggressively helps to charge the battery. Better is the steering wheel mounted paddle which can be used instead of the foot brake to regenerate battery charge. It is called Regen on Demand and using it puts you in a state called one pedal driving. It’s easy to get use, and will increase the driving range of the Bolt.
Keep in mind, I drove the Bolt during moderate fall weather. I had no need for a defroster or heater, that helps extend range.
Like many city dwellers, we have neither a driveway or garage. But I was lucky the Bolt could be charged just four blocks away at the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority building. Using the Charge Point App was simple and free. Another app called PlugShare is excellent at finding charging stations. Because users contribute to the app, it’s also up to date on locations and if chargers are broken or out of order.
What could be improved?
Getting the Bolt into Reverse is ridiculous. It requires a counterintuitive, upward and sideways motion. Rethink this please.
The centre display is mounted on an angle, so it’s pleasing to use, but it was often unreadable when the sun washed the screen in light. That was a concern when using the backup camera.
An aggressive horn honks when the remote is left in the car, or when the driver gets out with the (silent) engine running. I understand the logic, but there must be a less annoying way to sound the alarm.
I was surprised I liked the Bolt so much I dreamed about becoming an owner. This EV would work for many people with a winning combo of saving energy while being fun to drive.