Standout among its peers
Roseville, CA- Introduced three years ago, the Chevrolet Bolt is a subcompact hatchback whose best quality is its range – it goes a long way!
Thanks to its new 66 kWh battery, the 2020 Chevy Bolt added 21 more miles to its range, which is now 259 miles. Among this year’s electric vehicles, only the Model 3 (310 miles) goes farther than the Bolt.
While the Tesla Model 3 has a cool exterior that sets it apart, the Bolt is rather small overall and resembles a typical-looking EV. The Bolt is tall overall, yet has a smallish front end, hence the kind of dorky appearance.
And its name has always been baffling here, considering Chevy came out earlier with the Volt, a plug-in hybrid? There’s no confusing the two any longer since the Volt was discontinued for 2020.
Battery charging is always a concern for any EV owner. The Bolt takes approximately 9.5 hours for a full charge, using a standard 240-volt outlet at home. A Level 3 charging station can add roughly 90 miles of range every 30 minutes.
With a starting price just under $37,000, the Bolt has positioned itself as a solid competitor for the Model 3, which now goes for around $40,000. Note that both the Chevy Bolt and the Model 3 no longer qualify for a federal tax credit.
Despite its impressive range and some other fine qualities, sales of the Bolt continue to dip. Chevy sold 23,297 Bolts in 2017, 18,019 in 2018, and last year the total dipped to 16,418. The thinking here is the Model 3 impacts all EV sales. Last year, Tesla sales of the Model 3 was a staggering 158,925.
The Chevy Bolt has two trim models – LT and Premier. Although mechanically the same, the upper-end Premiere model comes with additional standard features like heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, blind-spot monitoring, rear camera mirror, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and roof-mounted side rails.
Although its appearance will have many people believing it’s gutless, the Bolt delivers surprising power in all driving situations. It generates 200 horsepower and 266-pound-feet of torque, allowing the Bolt to accelerate from 0-60 mph in an impressive 6.9 seconds.
2020 Chevrolet Bolt
- Performance: 60 kWh battery; electric vehicle, 200 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 102-127 mpge
- Price estimate: $36,800 to $41,200
- Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 5 years/100,000; corrosion: 6 years/100,000
The 3,563-pound Bolt still possesses ample power with four or a maximum of five people onboard and has an impressive 102-127 mpge. The electric motor offers instantaneous acceleration, but is not as robust in freeway passing situations.
The underfloor battery pack gives the Bolt a low center of gravity that makes the vehicle feel nimble on even challenging, curvy roads. The regenerative braking system recharges the battery when one lifts their foot off the accelerator and means the driver won’t frequently be using the brake pedal.
One downside to the Bolt is the interior. The front seats are thin and too hard, not a good combination for any long-distance driving, especially for larger people. The front seats don’t have any lumbar adjustment and power-adjustable seats are not available even in the Premiere model. Other issues include hard plastic materials and a thin carpet.
Unlike the extremely techy Model 3, the Bolt has fairly simplistic controls and a 10-inch touchscreen that is a bit slow to react. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard with the Bolt, but built-in navigation isn’t available, so drivers must rely on their smartphone for directions.
The Bolt offers good head and leg room for front seat occupants. Three people is a definite squeeze in the back, where head room is amble but the legs can feel a bit cramped. The cargo area is solid, providing 16.9 cubic-feet of space that expands to 56.6 when the rear seats are folded down.
Issues are few as the 2020 Chevy Bolt remains a standout among its peers. Its top characteristic is still the enormous mileage range and the surprisingly spunky performance and solid handling.