2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Extended Test Drive Review

Blue Chevy Bolt charging


The 2017 Bolt EV Premier shown in Kinetic Blue Metallic

With the introduction of the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, General Motors was the first OEM to market with an “affordable” long range all-electric car. For a few years, it appeared that Tesla would be the first to market with such a vehicle, however when GM introduced the concept Bolt at Detroit in 2015, it was clear that the race was on, and ultimately GM was able to beat Tesla to market by about eight months.

Now to be clear, I know that the Bolt and the Model 3 are distinctly different types of vehicles. However, the fact that they both have a single-charge range of over 200 miles, and basically the same base MSRP, there will inevitably be some degree of cross shopping. That said, the purpose of this review isn’t to compare the Bolt to the Model 3, as some other automotive publications already have. Personally, I think GM is going to find that more Bolt customers were former Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt or BMW i3 owners, than they were Model 3 reservation holders that cancelled their reservation and bought a Bolt.

GM was kind enough to offer me six days with a loaded Bolt Premier, which gave me an opportunity to use the car for daily commuting as well as a couple of long weekend road trips. I ended up putting 800 miles on the odometer, which was more than enough time to get a good feeling of what the car has to offer.

Side by side: The Chevy Bolt EV and BMW i3

Performance & Comfort

The 200 HP motor with 266 lb-ft of torque provides more than enough power for the 3,580 lb Bolt EV. Off-the-line acceleration is potent, and you can even get some wheel spin before the traction control takes over.

There is one drawback of having all that power available at zero RPM though. Since the Bolt EV has front wheel drive, the torque steer is definitely noticeable, but manageable. In fact, it reminded me a lot of the front wheel drive MINI-E that I leased from 2009-2012, which was a lot of fun to drive.

Also, when pushed to the limit, there was the typical understeer associated with front wheel drive, but it wasn’t unforgiving. If I just eased off the accelerator a bit the car quickly corrected. The Bolt will go zero to sixty in about six and a half seconds, and that’s quick enough to beat any stock EV on the road, this side of Tesla. The Bolt is such a good performer in fact, that at this year’s Refuel at Laguna Seca, Billy Kwan set a Production Class record, and even beat all of the Tesla car’s times from the 2016 event.

While I really loved the Bolt’s rear camera mirror, under some inclement conditions, the vision can become obstructed by the rain, and the driver needs to flip it back to a standard mirror.

The ride is pretty good for a car of this size, perhaps helped somewhat by the added weight of the large 60 kWh battery. It is smoother than my BMW i3, which has a tighter suspension and is much less forgiving over uneven road surfaces. It probably isn’t quite as smooth as a Nissan LEAF though, which I’ve found to offer a very soft, comfortable driving experience, even on less favorable road conditions. GM clearly wanted the Bolt EV to fit more into the “Hot Hatch” category, with above-average acceleration and good handling, while Nissan was more interested in making the LEAF a comfortable all-electric family mover.

Unfortunately, the 2017 Chevy Bolt seats look better than they feel. The narrow seat back has been widely criticized.

Since I brought up the word “comfort,” I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that I was a little disappointed in the Bolt’s front seats.

I understand that seating comfort is not an exact science, and what one person finds comfortable another may not. However, other publications like Consumer Reports and Edmunds have already written that they also found the Bolt’s seats to be less than satisfying. I too, share that sentiment. They seem to be very narrow and lack lower back support.

To be fair, my wife said she found the seats fine, but she has a small frame and is thin, so the width of the seatback wasn’t a problem for her as it was for me.  Since I had the Bolt Premier model, it came with the leather seating option. While I have sat in the standard Bolt LT with the cloth seats, I haven’t had enough time in it to really make a fair comparison. I do urge potential Bolt owners to sit in both versions, and go for a long test drive before they make a purchase decision.

Interior Finishes & Controls

I really liked the layout of the Bolt’s center display and controls. Everything was easy to understand, and the bright 10.2” center display was simple to operate. I’d prefer if it were angled more towards the driver, or have a greater vertical angle though. It’s positioned on an odd angle, so the driver not only has to look to their right, but also look down.

The center display has a couple different screens dedicated to displaying the vehicles recent energy use.

There are plenty of energy information screens to scroll through if interested, and I particularly liked how the main screen displayed the number of miles driven and kWh used since the last full charge. I think this really helps people who are new to EVs to better understand their energy use.

We all understand miles per gallon, but not everyone who buys an EV understands mile per kWh, and having this on display will help. I think other OEMs should take a close look at how GM implemented this, and follow what they did because it works. In addition, you can configure the drivers display to show the instantaneous energy draw, as well as the level of recaptured energy in kWh from braking. All of this information helps the owner, most likely relatively new to electric vehicles, better understand the basics of energy consumption of electric vehicles.  

While I do like the layout and the amount of space of the interior, there was a little too much shiny plastic in my opinion. I would have preferred if the top-of-the-line Bolt Premier had a little more top-of-the line feel to the interior surfaces. After all, the MSRP of the car I had was $43,905, but the interior finishes were more suitable for a car that cost much less.

Another nitpick I had was that the reverse gear is in an unusual position. You must press the button on the shifter, then push the shifter forward and to the left to find reverse. At first, I didn’t like this because it just felt unnatural and I missed getting in gear a couple times. However, after a couple of days, I had conditioned myself to do it correctly, and it was no longer an issue. It reminded me of the unusual gear shifter on the steering column of the BMW i3. Pushing the control knob forward for drive and pulling it towards me for reverse seemed backwards at first, since conventional shifters operate the opposite way. But after a little while with my i3, it only seemed right that I would push the knob forward to drive forward, and pull it backwards to drive in reverse. It’s all a matter of conditioning.

The rear seating area offers plenty of room for passengers

The rear seating area is spacious and comfortable, especially for a car of its size. The outward vision from anywhere in the cabin is excellent, and that helps make the small car feel bigger than it actually is. The ventilation system worked very well and was able to cool the cabin quickly, even on very hot days. The energy displays even tell you the energy use breakdown between propulsion, heating and cooling, and battery conditioning. This, again, helps the owner better understand the energy use of their electric car.

I really liked the rear camera mirror which comes standard with the Bolt Premier. It offers a better view outside of the rear of the vehicle, and this is something I’m sure will become commonplace on all vehicles soon. The Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning is another great safety feature. When activated, it gives a visual warning on the drivers display screen and gently nudges the steering wheel to move the car back into the lane you were driving in. It can easily be overpowered if it is your intention to leave the lane, but it is strong enough to let you know you may be unintentionally wandering out of your desired lane.

2017 Chevy Bolt rear view camera isn’t as clear as the rear camera mirror

The Surround Vision gives a 360 degree birds-eye view for parking and the four-camera system works very well. The rear view camera is standard and worked well also, but it isn’t nearly as clear as the rear camera mirror. In fact, I got out of the car once to clean the camera off, thinking it was dirty because of the cloudy view. However, the picture didn’t improve so I realized the camera just isn’t very high definition. The rear view camera on my BMW i3 for instance is much clearer than the Bolts. However, the more expensive i3 doesn’t even offer the options of a rear camera mirror, or Surround Vision that the Bolt has, either.

The Bolt’s charge port isn’t illuminated


The Bolt’s large 60 kWh battery takes about nine hours to fully charge on a 240v, level 2 EVSE. Both my JuiceBox Pro 40, and my ChargePoint Home EVSEs showed a charging rate of 7.3kW, until tapering down near the end of the charging session.

On one occasion, the Bolt just stopped charging when it was approximately 85% charged. The driver’s display had the message “Unable to Charge.  See Charge Station.”   I don’t have any way of proving if it was the car’s fault, or that of the EVSE, so I can’t blame the Bolt for this issue. I also charged it on 24 kW ChargePoint DC fast charger. It was charging at a steady 22kW and adding the expected ~33% state of charge per hour. This is one of the lower-powered DC Fast chargers, that are better suited for smaller-battery EVs. Still, it will add 90 to 100 miles of range per hour to the Bolt, which is still much better than level 2 charging. Unlike many other EVs, the Bolt surprisingly doesn’t have any LED lights in the charge port opening. This can be a little problematic when you need to plug in, in an unlit area.

On The Road

The first thing that I noticed was the presence of artificial creep. Put the car in drive and release the brake and the vehicle will slowly creep forward, like a conventional gas car. At first I was disappointed to find this, because personally, I prefer not to have this “feature” on my EVs. But then I remembered a conversation I had with the Bolt’s chief engineer, Josh Tavel, a couple years ago, when he told me they would have artificial creep for drive, but if the vehicle was in low the creep would disappear. So I tried it out and he was correct, no creep when in low gear.

Furthermore, if the car is in drive, and you come to a stop using the friction brakes, the car will creep when you release the brakes. However, if you use the regen paddle to stop the car, the vehicle will not creep when you release the paddle. Instead, it will hold the position until you use the accelerator. I really liked this implementation. It gives the driver the opportunity to decide if they want the vehicle to creep forward or not, upon releasing the brakes.

The driver’s display offers a minimum and maximum estimated range. When fully charged, the minimum and maximum are roughly 20% less and 20% more than the true estimated range. This gives the driver a 40% variance from the predicted range.

With an EPA electric range rating of 238 miles per charge, GM didn’t just simply beat competitors like the Nissan LEAF, BMW i3, Volkswagen eGolf, et al, they crushed them.

As noted above, the Bolt is also a great performer, and can out-accelerate and out-handle the competition as well. I planned two road trips to see how efficient the Bolt was at highway speeds with the air conditioning on and the results were very good. I averaged 4.0 miles per kWh for both trips, and I was driving 75 – 80 mph for much of the time with the air conditioning on. In all, I drove the car 800 miles and averaged 4.1 miles per kWh. That’s pretty respectable considering I had the air conditioning on all the time, and also drove in a couple rainstorms.

On previous trips to Vermont I had to stop at the DC Fast chargers to replenish the battery on my i3. WIth the Bolt EV, I made the entire 203 mile trip on one charge, and still had 33 miles of remaining range.

The first trip was a day trip to Bayhead down at the Jersey shore. The round trip was 147 miles and the Bolt consumed 36.5 kWh. My second trip was to Vermont and was over 200 miles each way. On the trip there the Bolt needed 51.1 kWh for the 203.4 mile journey. I’ve made this trip before in my i3 but always needed to stop along the way a couple times and use a DC Fast charger. Arriving at my destination with about 30 miles of remaining range, after driving over 200 miles on a single charge was really liberating. The Bolt minimizes the potential concern of range anxiety extremely well, and only the proliferation of nation-wide high-speed DC fast charge infrastructure will completely eliminate it.

The Bolt’s large windshield offers very good outward vision, and the rear camera mirror gives the driver a better view of what’s behind than a standard mirror could. However, I did notice that sometimes while it’s raining the camera mirror’s view can become obstructed by water, and you then need to flip the mirror back to standard non-camera position.

I also noticed (and liked) the electric motor whine, especially during heavy acceleration and deceleration. While the cabin is mostly quiet as with all EVs, you can hear the jet-engine sound of the Bolt’s electric motor a little more than you can in most other EVs. I imagine that this is the case because the motor is positioned in the front of the vehicle, just a few feet from the driver.

Regenerative Braking

While I could have discussed the Bolt’s regenerative braking system in the previous section, I was so impressed by how GM implemented this feature that I wanted to dedicate more time reviewing it.  

The regen-on-demand paddle is located on the back of the left side of the steering wheel

Manufacturers are still struggling to find the best way to implement the regenerative braking systems on their electric vehicle offerings. I know this for a fact, because I have personally been asked by more than one OEM to run polls and surveys among the EV community to gather information regarding how current EV drivers like or dislike the way the system is implemented in the EVs that they have driven. I now have a simple answer to give whenever I’m asked about my thoughts on regenerative braking: Just do what GM did with the Bolt EV.

The Bolt offers a regen setting for everyone. You want your car to act like your old gasser did? Then just leave it drive and the car will coast when you back off on the accelerator. In this mode it will still recapture some energy because it’s not totally freewheel coasting, but the level of regen is very mild. If you want a more aggressive regen, pull the shifter back and pop the car in low and you’ll instantly have the one-pedal driving experience that so many EV enthusiasts talk about. If GM had stopped there, the Bolt’s system would still be the best regenerative braking system available today, but they didn’t. They added a regen-on-demand paddle on the left side of the steering wheel that works so well, you can virtually drive all day without touching the friction brakes. This regen paddle initiates such strong regenerative braking, you can even stop the car on a steep decline nearly as quickly as friction braking would.

To give you an idea of how strong the regen is, if you’re driving in low, and pull in the regen paddle, it literally feels like you deployed a parachute to slow the car down! While this may be unsettling for many first-time EV owners, I believe they will quickly become accustomed to this, and before long love how it works. Personally, I like my regen strong, but I understand that not every EV owner will agree with me. What really makes the Bolt’s regen implementation special is that it can adjust to what the driver wants. You can select drive or low; you can use the regen paddle or not – there’s a level of regen for everyone. GM nailed it. There isn’t another regenerative braking system on the market that is this good. Period.

Chevy Bolt charging on level 2


Before having this extended test drive opportunity, I was already a fan of the Bolt EV. From what I had read and heard from friends who drive a Bolt, GM had done a really impressive job with it. The fact that it offers more electric range than any of its competitors is certainly the Bolt’s biggest advantage. However, if GM has simply stuffed a huge battery into a car without trying to make it a great electric car, then I believe it wouldn’t have ever realized its full sales potential.

After spending nearly a week with a Bolt, I’m very pleased to say that GM really did their homework. They obviously listened to the focus groups and the surveys, and delivered an EV that is, at least as good, if not better in most regards, than their competitors. I really hope GM puts some marketing dollars behind the Bolt, because it deserves it. There really isn’t too much to be critical of with this car. In fact, the lack of a comprehensive DC Fast charge network to support the Bolt EV is probably its weakest link. That, and well, the seats.

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184 Comments on "2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Extended Test Drive Review"

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Refreshing to see a nice, unbiased review. I pretty much agree with all points in the article.

The infamous front seats: while I don’t have any problems with them, I can admit they are not the most comfortable seats out there. It would be wise for GM to revise the seats in a future model like (like 2018).

First mass produced, affordable >200 mile EV indeed! Helps that it’s actually a very good car too. :p

Also want to add that I agree the resolution of the standard backup camera is pretty underwhelming. It’s fine for the purpose it serves, but it’d be nice to have a crisper picture, especially compared to the HD rear view mirror cam.

I could be wrong, but I think it is the same backup camera that is used for the majority of the GM vehicles. Looks like it at least. But usually that image is viewed on a 3″ or 4″ screen.

On the Bolt, this image is blown up onto an iPad size screen.

It reminds me of when the iPad first came out and it had few dedicated apps. So most apps were just scaled up from the iPhone to fit the new screen. This resulted in an inefficient use of space and blury icons and text.

You’re absolutely right. The back-up cam is a mediocre unit used extensively on GM products. The rear cam/rear view mirror is high end, initially available on the Bolt and Cadillac CT6.

One of my bigger complaints about my 2012 Volt is that the backup-cam is very blurry, and with the poor placement of the backup-light I often times can hardly see a thing when backing up at night.

I agree, thanks for the great review Tom.

I think the motor “whine” is artificial though? I haven’t driven the Bolt EV, but my understanding is that is the pedestrian warning?

I don’t think it is. It occurs at all speeds, whereas ped alerts are low speed only. I think it really is the sound of the car.

As the author says, I like the sound. It sounds like a quiet jet engine.

No, the ‘inverter whine’ is real. Several people, Tom included have mentioned it.

Re: The leather seats are agreed horrible, but everyone I’ve asked found my cloth seats very comfortable. Seeing as I’m driving the car 22,000 miles/year, I’d know if there was anything wrong with the seats by now.

ONE thing Tom didn’t mention is, its uncanny how QUIET the car is at high speeds, seemingly getting more so the faster you go. I looked at the speedometer, thinking I was going 55-60 when I was really going 85. Its THAT quiet.

The leather seats are not horrible. I own a Bolt with leather seats.

I’m not sure how Bolt owners such as yourself think they are helping the cause by trashing configurations they don’t even own.

Another of your Idiotic comments – almost as good as your ignorant electrical ones.

I sat in the Leather seat model at the auto show and it was HORRIBLE.

Its obvious by the context that this is my opinion, – it just happens to be shared by many.

The solution of course – that many may not realize – is the cloth seats are deemed by many (including me) to be comfortable – so there is a way that people may be satisfied to own a Bolt EV.

I’ve driven mine 11,200 miles as of today… I have experience with the car that others might find valuable.

You on the other hand, are simply trying to find fault, as you always do – problem is – you haven’t thought of anything intelligent to say as of yet.

FWIW, I have a Bolt LT (cloth seats). They suck. I don’t think the issue is cloth or leather. The seat bottoms are unusually narrow, so the thigh bolster cuts into my left leg. It could probably be reduced if the seat bottom angle could be adjusted, but raising the seat doesn’t change that enough to make a difference.

I can only speak for myself, and passengers I have had in the car. We all find the LT’s cloth seats comfortable, and after 11,200 miles my opinion hasn’t changed.

I hated the seats at the autoshow (Premiere Leather model), and since I had already placed a deposit on the bolt ev, i thought i was going to be in for years of trouble. Fortunately, the car I bought had decent seats.

I can see where they might be a bit narrow for some people – but everyone I’ve had try MY seats like them. That’s all I can say.

The whine is real. The pedestrian noise is artificial. It’s more of a white noise than a keening.

Unbiased? At the end he says I already liked the Bolt…

An EV driver predisposed to liking the first affordable, 200+ mile range vehicle? Oh the scandal! Fake news! Sad!

“The infamous front seats: while I don’t have any problems with them, I can admit they are not the most comfortable seats out there.”

Seat comfort is very individual. Loved my Prius but for me the manual seats on my model were uncomfortable after a long ride.

I pretty much won’t buy a car unless if offers powers seats which give the ability for greater range of adjustment and most people can comfortable with any seat as long it has power.

Neither Bolt nor Volt, both of which would allow me to be 100% EV, have power seats and Bolt lacks dynamic cruise and would need both features to be competitive with the Model 3 which does have both.

Despite the price differential, $42K vs. $62K for the 300 mile, AWD (RWD no good in snow) Autopilot (needed for dynamic cruise), Premium (needed for cold weather options), the Model 3 has EVERYTHING while the Volt and Bolt are missing essentials for long commuters.

Good review! I think you covered all the main points of the car quite well.

The rear camera mirror I am less fond of than you. I do not use on a regular basis. But when the back seat is full of people or when I am pulling out of a parking space between two huge vehicles, that wide, unobstructed viewing angle is great.

The seats I find more comfy than my spark ev was. Less comfy than the volt. Firm but comfy. But I am ~5’8″ and 150 lbs.

And yes, the regen options are the best out of any EV i have driven. Including all Chevy’s, Leafs, i3s and Teslas. Love the car!

Thanks for the great write-up, Tom!

I slightly disagree with your take on the regen. While I agree, it’s the best that I’ve driven, I disagree that “it can adjust to what the driver wants” because what I want is the option for free-wheel coasting. On the Bolt, you still have to feather the accelerator to get that. This is one feature that I really like about the eGolf. The eGolf actually has a more configurable regen layout than the Bolt, although its max isn’t nearly as strong.

I just wish they’d offer me three modes – “normal” driving feel (Bolt’s D mode), “max regen” (Bolt’s L mode), and “coasting” (not available on the Bolt).

Otherwise, I agree with the rest of your review.

I love free-wheeling, had it on my ’70 Saab.
I love that feeling of just rolling. That was the last year it was available, before it was outlawed in the U.S.

By frewheeling I assume you mean coasting, with the drive wheels detached from the engine?
If not, what do you mean?
If yes, how is it not available on US cars? Over here, you can shift any car to the Neutral transmission position (Auto or manual) while the car is in motion, and voila — coasting.

It’s not the same as shifting into neutral. You don’t need to shift. It’s not legal to place you car in neutral while in motion, and coast.

Count me in the free-wheel coasting camp, too!

It’s especially frustrating that they hard-wired in a minimum amount of regen when they also have a special regen lever.

But the car does have Neutral?

GM did a good job of offering many options for the regen. I admit I am a fan of coast mode, even after extensive drives with single pedal driving. I think it is more what you are used to than anything.

Hear, hear, hear!

Free wheel coasting – and a charging port light, would make the Bolt EV near perfect. And if they could give it adaptive creep (like the e-Golf), that would be icing on the cake.

Oh, and a robust direct heating windshield defroster. The e-Golf has one, but it is too weak to be very useful.

I noticed that too about the windshield heating element…i thought is was broken. Too bad, it seems like a good idea in cold climates.

What are you talking about? I put my Bolt ev in Neutral all the time. The car coasts well.

I guess it depends where you live because coasting to me is completely useless. I was playing with the regen and coasting and switching in between the 2 at first but here in SoCal it’s not worth it…way too much traffic.

This a good review having also owned the Bolt for about 3 months now I have a similar amount of experience with it. I don’t have any issues with the seats and I’ve personally not have had complaints from anyone who’s been in the car but I have heard this before in other write ups from “larger” people that find them uncomfortable. I’m not sure what the hang up is with reverse gear selector. It’s a simple up and over to engage it. Pretty similar to a stick, so if you’ve driven a manual transmission you will feel comfortable with it. I’ve never once had an issue with it yet almost every reviewer points is out as a problem. I don’t know, I don’t get it. The gear selector is purely electronic – it is not a mechanical shifter, so GM had the opportunity to do something new and I actually like their implementation. The electric whine is artificial. GM implemented it on the Bolt for regulatory compliance – the is a pending law requiring it. It otherwise would not make any sound in drive. I think it’s a ridiculous law but the way it’s done on the Bolt it’s… Read more »

Reverse is a pain in the a** until you get used to it. I have been driving it since January and I still miss reverse on occasion.

The ‘precision shift’ is another one of GM’s wet-dreams (there is always this kind of thing with all GM cars over the past few decades).

Impossible to do a quick 3 point turn.

They should have a few lighted buttons instead, like my roadster had. Cheap, quick, and it works.

By “larger” people, do you mean tall people or obese people?

Great review!

The following statement “General Motors was the first OEM to market with an “affordable” long range all-electric car” is representative of how GM viewed this, I believe. I think they wanted to beat Tesla to the punch in the “EV” market.

However, Tesla was in a different race. They wanted to create the best $35k base price sedan (of any kind) on the planet.

Time will tell which product is more desirable, but we have a preliminary estimate based on the manufacturer’s goals.
Tesla is planning a production rate of 500k / year while GM is shooting for 30k / year.

“They wanted to create the best $35k base price sedan (of any kind) on the planet.”

I strongly belive they also thought they would be the first to come out with a mass produced, <$40k, 200 mile EV.

Then GM caught Tesla (and everyone else) with their pants down with the Bolt.

The amazing thing about the Bolt is GM got so much of it right. The only major criticisms are seat padding and the overuse of hard plastics.

Fixing the seats might be a simple material padding change. The hard plastics might never be fixed in the Bolt. That’s what a potential follow on like a Buick model can do.

This is the tragedy of GM… Few companies have the advanced technical resources that enable GM to produced a sophisticated vehicle like the Bolt. But no company seems to have GM’s uncanny skill to take the most advanced materials available and make a car interior feel and look cheap.

How do they do it? More importantly, why do they do it?

There are plenty of manufactures (Ford, Mazda, VW,…) that can make appealing interiors for small cars at attractive price points. It is truly GM’s Achilles heel, and totally self inflicted.

I’ve never understood how anyone things a Mazda interior is at all fancy or superior to its competitors. The Mazda 3 interior looks cheap cheap cheap. A Civic has a much better interior.

I’m with you on VW and some Fords. A lot of Ford interiors look more expensive because they are. Ford is the only manufacturer in the lower brackets which actually offers their cars with two different interiors. They show the nice one in pictures on the page with the base model prices.

They do this in the Focus, Mustang and I think also the Fusion.

GM also tends to make extremely conservatively-styled cars. The Bolt, while not ugly, is uninspired and boring. It looks like a nice appliance.

Why? Do GM executives have impaired vision? Are they cognitively impaired? Very bizarre.

Can I add another major complaint?

It looks tiny on the road – like a teen car. When the majority of families buy SUVs, this is a great way to be unappealing to the masses. People buy SUVs partly for their on the road size appearance.

Now don’t compete with our SUVs – no matter what you do! You realize we make them for $10k and sell like hotcakes for $35k.

When majority buy SUV, it is a hard sell to get them into a Fit sized vehicle. A normal size car would still have over 200 in range with that battery.

Yeah, its got that Korean-esque styling that many feel only a mother could love. Some like the styling – I don’t particularly care for it – Chevy in general makes some pleasant looking cars, but agreed the BOlt isn’t one of them. But I don’t care – I’m having so much fun with the car that I’m driving it far more than any car I’ve ever owned. Its rather similiar to those Chinese Buicks that seem to sell quite well in the states, so I can’t really fault GM’s game plan – they’ll do what they want to anyway. Yeah it would be nice if someone somewhere would make a bigger, low cost EV. But People need to buy Bolts and Volts to get GM’s attention. They only will continually make what people will buy. That’s why their only joke EV so far, in my opinion has been the CT6 phev. That Dog of a car is up to what? 20 cars per month? Right where it belongs if you ask me. But then they have an EV-hater at the helm at Cadillac. On paper it is superior to a Mercedes PHEV – what with the car’s microscopic battery. And… Read more »

They never said anything about being the first, just the best!

I would say you were right about how GM caught Tesla with their pants down, except…

They still haven’t outsold any Tesla models so far this year. And the models Tesla is currently selling are all at least twice as expensive!

The Model 3 on the other hand, has all the hallmarks of reaching sales numbers not seen since the 1965 Ford Mustang.

‘Haven’t outsold any Tesla Models this year’.

Last I heard more people bought BOLT ev’s than ‘3’s. Unless you are counting a reservation as a sale.

But looks like, for a model that was going to come out concurrently with the BOLT ev, the ‘3’ is going to be essentially 12 months in the future.

Of course, this will be viewed as being the more ‘modern’.

“They still haven’t outsold any Tesla models so far this year.”

According to Inside EV, Bolt was the best selling EV in the month of July in the US.

The bolt was not available in the whole USA so you can’t compare how many are sold in a few states to a tesla. August is the 1st month that it is available in most states. Let’s see how the rest of the year goes. We really shouldn’t compare a bolt to any tesla . Tesla is a luxury car. Also don’t compare a bolt to a old 2017 or older leaf wait until the new leaf with the 60 kwh comes out and gets real world testing . Those to are comparable not any tesla .

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

“However, Tesla was in a different race. They wanted to create the best $35k base price sedan (of any kind) on the planet.”

Correct, their race is/was ‘Create the best EV with a supporting fast charging infrastructure’ for a better owner experience.

The rest just said to he11 with that, let someone else build the charge infrastructure us.

I loved reading the part about the regen braking. I did not know the paddle generated regen that strongly.

The regen is very, very impressive. It has to be experienced to believe.

I disagree with describing the ‘Regen on Demand’ as “on” and “off”.

There is an “attack” – delay that rather smooths out the car’s braking with proficient use of it. Most days I hardly use, if ever, the mechanical brake pedal – doing all the braking with the shift lever (to “L”), and using the regen paddle or not, or time-modulating it. Putting the ramping up attack to good use, you can make the braking not so uncomfortable for a passenger.

Not sure who you’re responding to Bill? I got to experience the regen in the Bolt again this week, continue to love it. I can’t imagine you’ll ever get sick of it! 🙂

Responding to the comment from Tom or whomever that the paddle is on or off. – While literally true, there is a ramp up of the regen when doing this, and doing a PWM of your left fingers can make the car variably brake. 60 kW same as GEN 1 VOLT in ‘D’, and 70 in ‘L’, which comes in handy when you need just a bit more brake stomping.

I was disappointed that the Author didn’t point out that even in D. The Bolt EV can apply maximum regeneration by simply applying the brake pedal.

Great Review! In depth, informative.

Agreed! Thanks, Tom!

Also, for anyone wondering, it was recently confirmed that the Bolt/Ampera-E can actually charge a little faster than 50 kW.
55 kW and 160A is now what is believed to be the max DC charge rates. It’s theorized the Bolt’s hardware can support 200A DC charging, and that GM has implemented a ~160A limit via software.


(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

It doesn’t really matter if it’s 55 kW or 80 kW peak. Bolt tapers to 36 kW at about 50% and then to 25 kW at about 70%. Even if it can hit the peak 55/80 kW for a moment at less than 50%, average power will be far lower for most.

I saw a Bolt charging 10 kW in 20 minutes to 80% while Leaf next to it charged 13 kW in 20 minutes to 80%. Bolt is, and will forever be, THE slowest charging EV in the world by a wide margin.

“Even if it can hit the peak 55/80 kW for a moment at less than 50%, average power will be far lower for most.”

look at the link. It’s constant up to 50%….no taper. That’s pretty good. although I admit the big taper after that’s not too wonderful.

Thx for the link

I have never seen any Bolt charging to less than 80%. Most are 90%+. In fact, I have never seen any EV only charging to 50%, Bolt or otherwise. Fact is, Bolt will always be infamous for being the slowest charging EV the world has ever seen.

“Bolt will always be infamous for being the slowest charging EV the world has ever seen.”

Gen 1 PiP wins that award, with it’s ~2.2 kW max charge rate.

I’m talking about EV, not PH. EV (not PH) not capable of DCFC are toys, not real cars. Besides, Bolt isn’t the best, but it deserves to be compared to a real car, not a joke called PiP.

You make a good point about theoretical world and real world. I think the reason you see people filling up to 80% or more is because they never know how far it is to the next DCQC. And if they do, there is no gaurantee that it will be operational AND available. In a hypothetical future world with DCQC as common as gas stations, many more people will “do the math” and fill only to the taper point. The irony being that with such a plethora of chargers, you wouldn’t have to wait anyway – just move along to the next charger.

In the end, you should count yourself blessed that you have DCQC at all. I’d rather wait in a queue 3 deep of EVs filling to 100% than have to rely solely on L2 charging.

“Fact is, Bolt will always be infamous for being the slowest charging EV the world has ever seen.”

That’s the biggest bit of hyperbole I have ever heard. Especially considering the EVs that don’t have DCFC.

on a road trip u only charge enough to get to the next charge station. In addition min trip time is achieved by getting to your next charger with a low battery. 10-15% usually. This keeps you out of taper as much as possible and gives shortest travel times

spark edit,
oops forgot u only have a small range EV. Of course you would charge all the way.Different story on a longer range EV like Bolt.

I don’t really get SparkEV’s insistence on making “fun” of the Bolt’s DCFC ability, then saying the Spark EV is the fastest fast charging EV in the world.

It’s saying a gas Spark is the fastest drag racer in the world….as long as the Spark races on a 1/10th mile drag strip, and everyone else races on a half mile strip.

Rational person would do as such. In fact, Tony Williams wrote IEV article about it. But the fact is, every Bolt I saw charged way past 80%, close to 90% (many even more). Human psychology isn’t likely to change, ever. They’d rather see high percent above all else.

Was this while you were waiting for a DCFC to open up so you could use it?

160A instead of 125A max means charging to 50-57% SOC (taper to 100A/37 kW is not hardlined at 50%) from nearly empty would be 28% faster on a 160+ amp DCFC, compared to a 125A one.

So instead of a max 90 miles in 30 min/160 in 1 hour, it’d be 115 miles in 30/~190 miles in 1 hour.

In a world where people only charge to 50%, what you say is true. But in the real world, everyone charges to 80%+. They don’t care about the miles, they just look at the percent.

I have never seen any Bolt lower than 20% at start in the real world (not your blog post). Most are above 50%, often far higher. The mythical 160A or 200A makes no difference for most since steep taper has already set it when they plug in.

This is totally against GM’s business practices, but I hold out some very slight hope that an OTA update could potentially lift the Bolt’s max DCFC rate to 200A. Assuming the HV battery is at 360V around 50% SOC (I believe I’ve observed such numbers), that would translate to a 72 kW charge rate.

According to “Some dude on Facebook” sourcing, I think I read the Bolt’s DCFC hardwire is rated for 200A.

But need these hypothetical 160-200A DCFC stations to actually be built.

That would also explain GM’s 80 kW figure in the owner’s manual.

I think the 80kW is a reference to the assumptions of the Voltage and Current that corresponds to for such an 80kW charger.

Like most EV batteries, they don’t have a voltage spec that is at the maximum used when calculating 80kW, so GM did some math and said an 80kW charger has the highest current rate they can accept, and published that in their manual.

That’s my assumption anyway.

In other words, 500V * 160A = 80kW. That’s how they arrive at calling a DCFC rating 80kW.

Like most EVs, the Bolt’s battery is not 500V, so their note of 80kW likely means the Bolt EV can accept up to 160A from a DCFC station.

By the way, that should read 10 kWh in 20 minutes for Bolt and 13 kWh in 20 minutes for Leaf, no kW.

Yes, it was while I was waiting. Using the same charger, SparkEV added 14.5 kWh to 86% in 20 minutes. Even with lots of taper beyond 80%, SparkEV with smallest battery kicked butt of both.

How often do you DCFC? Have you noticed any degradation?

DCFC about once a week now, thanks to all them Maven Bolts clogging up chargers. I have to be very careful to charge at home.

Battery is actually gaining capacity. I think all the home charging and often charging to full (by mistake) is balancing the cells for the better. Now at about 17.9 kWh.

From other reviews, I get the impression that the regen-on-demand paddle acts like a toggle switch. Either it is really on or really off. Is it possible to modulate? Do you find yourself even wanting to modulate it?

It is basically an “on/off” button, but that doesn’t mean the regen level is the same no matter what.

For example, if you use the paddle on the highway at 65 mph, the regen effect feels much less compared to using the paddle at 10 mph. In other words, you won’t get “slammed” forward if you use the paddle at 65 mph.

I find the regen paddle in the Bolt more refined than the Gen 2 Volt. The Volt seems a lot more hurky jerky.

True. And this is physic’s fault, not GM’s.

Power = Force * Velocity

The same amount of regen power will create less deceleration force at a higher velocity.

* True that the regen *effect* is less at higher speeds, but false that the regen level is different

Regen actually is higher at higher speeds.

Regen works by drawing out energy from the motor. You cannot draw out more energy than the motor has in it. As the motor is spinning more slowly the ability to draw out energy drops. Since the car doesn’t have multiple gears that means as the car slows the regen drops.

The regen is noticeably more powerful at high speeds than slow.

I hear the IoniqEV has a coasting ability like you’re after.

That was supposed to be in reply to Brian, idk what happened.

Thanks for the info. I’ll have to check it out when it comes to NY

My first car was an aerodynamic, two stroke, FWD Saab that was amazing in ice and snow. The Bolt is aero, FWD, and even has shutters in the front air grille, reminiscent of the pull-shade on my Saab. The Bolt’s tight suspension, and firm bucket seats remind me of my ’56 MGA, the most fun car I ever owned. And the acceleration is better than my old Sunbeam Tiger. My favorite cars, all rolled into one! We have over 800 miles in three weeks of driving. Looking for excuses to get in a car for the first time in over forty years.

Nice right up Tom M.

I liked yet another take on the seats. I’m on a 4 day road trip in the Model S and my back isn’t all that happy. It’s a combination of sitting on the floor and my old man’s body that does it.

That’s why I’m interested in the Bolt’s upright seating but after reading this and other reviews I’m not sure the Bolt seats would work for me…..guess I would have to try them out to know for sure.

I was also looking for charging speeds in article on a full up high power charger for comparison.

The super charger in Gallup was only putting out 70 kw and the folks I talked to there said that the Holbrook super charger was not at full power either.

So I ended up spending a whole hour charging in Gallup. It took me 8 hours to go 400 miles. That’s par for the course. 50 MPH average speed on the whole trip.

Even with super chargers you can’t be in a hurry.

Yeah give the seats a try before making a decision. I like them more than my Spark EV and would say they are about as comfortable as my Scion XD seats were.

Although the seats in our Volt are technically more comfortable… the Volt itself is less comfortable because of the seating position and less interior space. Plus it is more difficult to get in and out of.

My parents are in their 50s. They could not stop talking about how much room there was in the car and how easy it was to get out of both the front and back seats.

So try it out and see what you think!

Agree there are lots of regen options, but what is the max regen in kW you see with Bolt? SparkEV is about 60 kW that I’ve seen, might be bit higher. Bolt being 20% heavier would need 72 kW to equal SparKEV deceleration rate using regen.

I thought I read someone that max regen was 70kW.

70 kW

“The first thing that I noticed was the presence of artificial creep. Put the car in drive and release the brake and the vehicle will slowly creep forward… if the vehicle was in low the creep would disappear. So I tried it out and he was correct, no creep when in low gear.”

This is more accurately stated: The L setting on the gearshift is one pedal driving, that is, push to go, release to brake. Thus it is natural that the car will stop and hold position with the pedal released.

I don’t know why they labeled it L (“low”). That designation makes no sense, actually.

“I don’t know why they labeled it L”


Actually it will still creep on a downhill slope.

When on a hill, “L” will increase the regen rate – but why is this such a revelation since the VOLTS and ELRs have operated exactly the same.

Two things that are NEW:

1). Paddle works better in “L” than “D”.

2). If you don’t use the hydraulic brake pedal at all the thing will autonomously apply and release the parking brake (annoying).

“…weakest link. That, and well, the seats. ”

To me, it’s the price and inability to tow a trailer. Some lease prices are now in-line with the real world, but inability to tow makes it forever out of my each when similarly priced Tesla 3 will be able to tow.

A very good review, you accomplished a lot in a few days.

I don’t have a problem with the seats at 5’10” and 190 lbs. My weak point with the Bolt is the display connection to the phone and the display in general. It crashes a lot, as in freezes completely. The coupling with the phone is a nightmare. It has about a %30 failure rate, as in you plug in the phone and it fails to connect. When connected, it virtually takes over the phone. It becomes unusable for anything else, like for example accessing Plugshare.

Hmm….and why would you need to be using your phone while driving? Ever hear of something called “distracted driving”?

The car “taking over” your phone is on purpose. If you are plugged in and driving, you shouldn’t even be messing with your phone.

In fact, Apple is introducing features in iOS to disable phone notifications when it sense you are driving.


Ever heard of an application called “plugshare”?

If you need to use Plugshare or whatever app, pull over, do what you need to do, then back on your way.

Spoken like a person who has never actually used plugshare or driven extensively in an EV.

Get some manners here bro. Your opinion does not RULE.

Yes, I have not driven EVs extensively. All my blogging about my Bolt is about theoretical EV experiences and lots of photoshop. Lol get a grip

I see that you advocate distracted driving. You are the same guy that said it would bring a smile to your face if you saw a “glow” from Japan after a nuclear strike on the Korean peninsula, so I shouldn’t be surprised at all.

My bad, you didn’t say put a smile on your face. You said it would be “POSITIVE” thing if South Korea got nuked.

scott franco
August 9, 2017 at 3:04 pm

I had to think about that one. If you believe it, go short on LG and all their battery customers (like GM).

On the positive side, Japan and Taiwan will be able to see in the nighttime due to the soft, pleasant glow on the horizon. Ahhhhhhh….


That’s disgusting, bro. Anyone who gets off on vaporizing millions of innocent civilians needs some serious readjustment.

Scott, oh my gosh, you are the worst our world has to offer.

Yeah it really is a shame that the Bolt has no built-in nav or ability to show you charging stations on it’s screen, forcing you to pull over and use your little phone display instead.

You think this would be obvious, given Tesla exists.

I will concur the display does crash periodically. Once it froze with the forward camera on, once with the “Bolt EV” logo. No radio or climate control when it does this and it will only reset after you turn off the key and walk away from key fob range. It has crashed 3 times in 4 months.

“Display Freezes”.

Oh really? Mine does also from the first day I picked up the car 6 months ago. It has happened to me 6 times in 11,000 miles.

ALthough, this past monday – something ELSE happened that was new for me – the Cabin BLOWER just suddenly stopped, even though the controls thought it was on. Re-power-cycling the car did no good.

After 30 minutes of driving the fan just started working again.

I thought I was the ONLY one having these problems. But if the display crashes for everyone then that means CHEVY can’t fix it under warranty.


Early adoption blues.

I never want to buy something just to be the first.

Like Model 3. I don’t want one of the first ones. A 2nd year M3 would be fine in my eyes.

Wasn’t your Roadster and early example also? In Chris Paine’s documentary, it was humorous to see Musk hearing about glitches in a Silver Roadster that actually turned out to be Chris Paine’s car! Awkward!

Nope, James, not an early adopter of the Roadster – but I was the FIRST (according to Tesla) of NOT using one of their ‘Charging Solutions’ – that involved reconfiguring my wallbox to work with the existing Roadster.

But actually I bought one of the LAST Roadsters (in 2011). Tesla also wanted to know what kind of Tires I put on the car to improve the mileage of the car.

No ACC and no Power Seats has me waiting for a Buick or Caddy version.

ELR seats are the right stuff.

ELR seats are still on the floor. Bolt has more upright seating…..but yes Buick Bolt would be good for you.

Good review. We’ve had our Bolt for about 1100 miles so far and our experience and impressions are pretty much the same.

We live in California’s southern San Joaquin Valley, which means it’s 100-150 miles over mountains to get away to nicer places for the weekend. The Bolt does that no problem at all — better than we expected.

We did cancel our M3 reservation after we purchased the Bolt. Haven’t seen a refund yet. Not too impressed with Tesla right now.

Congrats on “Bolting”! You won’t regret it.

A shame Tesla does not refund your deposit in a timely manner. Just yet another example of Tesla dragging their feet with deposit returns.

I thought there will be one article that you won’t bash Tesla in the comment section…i was wrong. Should i start picking at your dorkmobile now?

I used to think bro1999 was an electric car guy. Nope. He’s a GM guy who bought one of their low production/compliance EVs, built to “prove” they can – and collect some sweet ZEV credits from C.A.R.B. states in the process. Bro bought his Bolt EV and had it shipped across the country from California – and that is great. I think the Bolt is a fine machine for sure. Not so fine that he takes to the web to bash Tesla as if it were some Camaro vs. Mustang, Camry vs. Accord and Fusion, F-150 vs. Silverado shootout. I think we all need to be less biased at this point in the EV revolution. There really aren’t enough models that directly compete with one another to do so, other than the 1st gen 70-80 milers like Focus EV, LEAF gen 1 and Soul EV. Bro1999 needs to stop whooping until LEAF arrives in a couple weeks. Then he has a more direct comparison to make. Even then – I like all EVs. Pretty much the only EV I ever bashed as Bro does Tesla is the i3 because BMW fanboys argue that it’s worth $53,000 and BMW snobbery is… Read more »

I have seen a lot more tesla fans bashing the Bolt. I love both. Cars and believe there is room for both . They are. Different kind of cars. Hatchback and luxury sedan. M3 people just get their car and enjoy and let bolt people love there’s too. The bolt is not a compliance car. That is a car like the spark ev, fit ev Ford Focus ev that are not available to The Who USA. The bolt is increasing production this month for national availability. We have some in ohio now.

Sure, bash away like a typical TSLA zealot.

Man, you can read me like a closed book!

The design of the Bolt is flawed. With electric vehicles there is no reason to make the car front wheel drive. Front wheel drive compromises handling, acceleration (wheel spin noted in article), and turning radius.

“Front wheel drive compromises handling, acceleration (wheel spin noted in article), and turning radius.”

When speaking about performance vehicles, sure.
Not many regular people are taking the Bolt on the race track though.

Though when someone does take one to the track, it is able to dust even Teslas. 😉


FWD has more regen potential than RWD.

Living in Canada where there is lots of snow, I would never purchase a rear wheel drive car. The traction on show is terrible and in my opinion, unsafe.

Exactly. FWD or AWD is a must in the New England and all of the snow belt.

Fortunately snow tires exist and when it comes to stopping distance which wheels are driven doesn’t even factor into the equation at all.

Most of us don’t want to deal with snow tires. Especially for multiple cars.

It’s not random that FWD & AWD passenger cars dominate in the US. RWD cars are impractical in the northern half of the country.

Where the drive wheels somewhat dictates where the motor is, which affects weight distribution and how much weight is on each wheel.

A rear drive car with electric motor in the rear should do fine in the snow with proper tires. I drove a 1980s MR2 for years and it did great in the snow … took it up steep snow-covered roads no problem.

but will be able to regen less than a front drive car with motor in the front because of the weight shift forward under braking.

“averaged 4.0 miles per kWh for both trips, and I was driving 75 – 80 mph for much of the time with the air conditioning on. In all, I drove the car 800 miles and averaged 4.1 miles per kWh. That’s pretty respectable considering I had the air conditioning on all the time, and also drove in a couple rainstorms.”

That is pretty darn good.

I guess with that kind efficiency it would pretty much silence any critics who claims that Bolt won’t be able to do >200 miles at “normal hwy speed”.

Maybe that was downhill? I wouldn’t get 4.1 at 75-80 even with AC off in my Bolt.

800 miles downhill in the NorthEast?

Do yourself a favor and buy the Chevy Volt instead! As an owner of a Chevy Volt and a Ford Fusion Energi, I am a big proponent of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) over all electric cars (BEV) like Teslas, Leafs, and Bolts. If I were to make an early bet now, I believe PHEVs will win hands down over all electric BEVs once people start driving electric cars and realize they don’t need 200+ mile batteries because their home is the “gas” station where they can easily fill up with electricity every night. In fact, the ideal battery size is one that is just big enough to cover your daily commute needs and no more. The best way to describe a PHEV is “Electricity for your daily commute and gasoline for your weekend getaways”. This combination makes sense for two reasons 1) Lithium-Ion batteries are very heavy. A Tesla battery weighs 1,200 lbs in which you are only using 10~15% of it on a daily commute basis. That means you are lugging around 1,000 lbs of unused batteries which is the equivalent of hauling three full size refrigerators in your everyday commute! 2) And when you are making those infrequent long… Read more »

I own an EV and generally support EVs, but I will never if I can help it take a long trip with any BEV. Including Bolt or Tesla, it just makes the trip a much bigger hassle. I might buy a Bolt, but I would not pay over $30k. May get a used one in a few years.
Here is how I take a long trip in an EV – first I drive the the Hertz or Avis rental car store and rent a gas car…

So, why does the Volt weigh virtually the same as the Bolt EV? 3,543 vs 3,580 pounds

Carrying around an engine, transmission, radiator, and fuel tank, that you rarely use, seems like a poor choice to me. Add to that, the added maintenance, and the smaller interior, and the Bolt EV looks even better.

Yep, true.

But, the problems with long-distance travel in the Bolt, at present and the near future, are huge. Gasoline is still the ultimate quick-charge. 300 mile gasoline range means I can go anywhere in the country with no range anxiety and no mandatory 1 hour charging stops.

Tesla’s Supercharger network enables nationwide travel, but with some inconvenience and mandatory charging stops of 15-30 minutes. GM’s national charging solution is a grab-bag and will leave you empty-handed way too often to use the Bolt long distance.

No thanks, I’ll not miss the scheduled maintenance required of gas engines and the finite life of all those gaskets.

Plenty of gaskets & fluids in an EV. They’ll all start leaking eventually.

Wait… What you say?

I think the only fluid EV’s don’t have is engine oil. They all have several coolants, brake fluid, refrigerant, power steering fluid. Their transmission fluid is normally sealed for life since they are single speed.

All the fluid last longer in EV’s because they don’t get abused through contaminants, use or heat as ICE vehicles do.

Great review, Tom.

I couple of comments I haven’t seen anybody make is that the battery pack is 60kWh usable and around 63-64kWh total.

Also, the rear cameras can be cleaned when you push the windshield wiper stick forward.

Nice to read a review from an experienced EV owner. I can’t stand to read “test drives” from people that are unfamiliar with EVs or their technology.


This review mirrors my experience with the Bolt. They got almost everything right then put those miserable seats and a cheap interior inside.

Drop the price, spruce up the materials, and use the Volt/Sonic/Cruze seats and the Bolt is a winner.

Good review, I love my Bolt and had some notes:

There seemed to be some missing content which you might want to include:

Level-2 Charging taper experience
Apple Carplay and Android Auto usage
Rear seat comfort/discomfort
Trunk space/usage
OnStar Phone app features
Heated seats/steering-wheel

Should note:
This is the 1st OTA car for GM
Is missing ACC feature at this price segment
User can’t open trunk if driver is seated/parked, or with single FOB.

Level 2 charging taper? I never noticed any significant L2 charging taper. Unlike my LEAF which took an extra hour to top off at the end.

Do you mean DC charging taper?

It is, for no reason I can explain, traditional to not have a trunk open button on a hatchback in the cockpit or on fob. None on the LEAF. None on first gen Volt (not sure about 2nd). None on Bolt. So I wouldn’t consider it even unusual enough to mention.

There’s a cable at the side of the driver’s seat on my 1997 Civic hatchback that pops the hatch. Very useful when someone you are picking up arrives well laden.
I’m surprised that this convenience will go when I upgrade to a newer vehicle (real soon now).

Good review. My thoughts on the camera rear view mirror: First I thought it was great and used it for the first month but ended up going back to the traditional mirror. One reason even though it is great clarity, it still doesn’t have the resolution a mirror has. For example if I wanted to see if that was a police car behind me 300 yards back, you can’t see that detail in the camera mirror but easily see that with a standard mirror. Another reason is the camera is mounted low, if a car is behind you stopped at a light for example, you see their license plate and grill in the mirror, while a standard mirror you see the driver which is what I would rather see. I will still use it of course if I have a bunch of stuff in the back blocking the mirror.

Great review. Matches most of my own perceptions about the car after a 35+ minute test drive. Having had a gen 1 Volt and now a Model S I REALLY loved the regen on the Bolt too. In the Tesla, I find myself accelerating more quickly and thus I am forever braking as I come to a stop from higher speeds (yes, it’s terribly inefficient, but its so effortless to use the power in the Tesla…and a shame not to!) – the regen paddle in the Bolt would solve much of that. In just that short test drive, I began to use it constantly. The plastic surfaces are definitely kind of cheap, but, much like that shifter, I think it becomes a non-issue after a while. The seats are, as most agree, less than ideal (and I have gen 1 Tesla seats!). The motor whine (definitely not the pedestrian warning) is CONSIDERABLY louder under hard acceleration than the Model S, gen 1 and 2 Volt and the BMW i3 (the only EVs I’ve drive), but not a deal breaker given it was only under hard acceleration. I did find the steering push going around corners a bit disconcerting though (so… Read more »

All I wanted to know was how fast the car charges at a 100kw charger!

Great review. We have now had the Bolt now for almost two months. Having driven the car from DC to New jersey I have discovered an issue that is not often highlighted in reviews related to the relatively slow DC fast charging in this car. While 90 miles in half an hour is certainly much faster than what you get with level 2 charging it is annoyingly slow when you are making long distance trips with this car. For a long trip you want to to take advantage of the 240 mile range between stops for charging. Now there are enough DC combo fast charging spots along the east coast corridor to really take advantage of this range. However, there is a problem. When you are down to your last 30-40 miles, it takes an hour or more to charge up again. Not all fast charging stations are located in spots to make such a long stop easy. Furthermore, EVgo stations have an annoying arrangement where they quit after a half hour charging session and you have to be physically present to start it up again. With our i3 this was not a problem because a half hour charge typically… Read more »

Don’t quite understand the “filling up” comparison between an I3 with a much smaller battery pack and the Bolt.

What I meant is that you don’t recognize the limitations of Dc fast charging with an i3 because the battery and range are smaller. You plug in and you are as full as you are going to get in about a half hour. It was frustrating to realize that a half hour does not get you anywhere near full with the bolt. It was helpful to hear from unlucky that an hour wait for charging is typical even for many teslas. Will just have to plan more leisurely spots to have hour long lunches or dinners! There is business opportunity for someone out there

The evGO thing is annoying.

Note that taking an hour to “fill up again” is essentially universal. If you want to put 270 miles (80% for a 100D) in a Model S it takes 1h5s. Source: Tesla Model S web page charge estimator.

I’m sure you’re right it can turn an 8 hour trip into 10. I’m considering taking a 7 hour (on the road) trip and I expect it will turn into a 9 hour trip. And that’s if I don’t have to wait on anyone and don’t end up with any sub-100A chargers.

A good review. My add-ons nonetheless: The light in the charge port thing is bizarre. The Volt has one. Leaving this off I don’t get at all. GM’s creep choices bother me. I wish I could have it default to L. I end up double-tapping all the time to get to drive (which I was used to from the LEAF to get to B). The idea that “if you bring it to a stop using the friction brakes” isn’t really true though. The brakes are fully blended. You can get more regen by tapping the brake pedal as much as the paddle. And with the brake pedal it is variable, you can get a little more or a lot more. So if I bring it to a stop in D using the brake pedal, even if all regen, it still creeps. You have to use the paddle to get no creep in D and I don’t use the paddle because the on/off step is too large, it jostles everyone in the car. I think the seats discussion here is fair. I’ve had many people of all sizes in the car to test drive it or ride in it and none… Read more »

Now that the Bolt is on sale in all 50 states this month, can we expect it’s sales to cross 2,000 mark. 32 extra states were added and surely we can expect this, otherwise we have to blame it on 2 factors.
1. Dealers not selling electric vehicles as GM told earlier. This again justifies Tesla’s reason for direct sale.
2. Customers feeling that Bolt is more pricey compared to Model 3 and are waiting for production ramp up.
We will know this in the next 2 weeks.

September is going to be when you see real numbers. The dealer near me in Columbus Ohio was only allocated one vehicle with delivery in August. But I could see GM doing 3k – 4k a month by end of year.

Tom, thanks a lot. Great read, as usual. I am going to pick up my Bolt tomorrow. Hope the seats won’t kill me, I test drove Premier but am buying LT.

Ok, so after preconditioning myself, that the seat in Bolt EV LT will be bad, I was pleased to discover that they were actually pretty acceptable. The width is 18.5″ for front seat in Bolt EV while it is 20.25″ for Nissan Leaf. I only felt “pressure” when entering/exiting the car as I had to slide over the edge of the seat, which is quite understandable. And yes, I am the Leaf driver. So, Tom got it right. If you are buying EV for environmental reason as your top priority, those seat discomfort sentiments are nothing. Don’t get discouraged. Chevy Bolt is really advanced car with insane range for its category. Thanks for reading.

Even if higher power DC fast chargers become available, cars with “small” 60 kWh packs will still have to charge slower than cars with larger packs. You can refrigerate the pack, but the C rate of current batteries will still be the limiting factor. A manufacturer could charge these smaller packs at a higher rate, of course, but the pack life will drop, and once you are talking hundreds of thousands of mainstream cars, they would be leaving themselves open for big warranty issues. Without a big battery breakthrough, long range driving will still be faster in an ICE. In reality it means little. But people don’t buy cars based on reality.

Unfortunately, electric cars are not going to solve this problem.


Only greatly reducing our obscene consumption of energy and resources would give us a chance at this late date. But that conversation will not happen.

I think he’s lost is mind about suspensions.
That banging rear suspension in the Bolt in no way could be better then the smooth INDEPENDENT rear suspension in the BMW i3.

Also, the i3 has large wheels and tires that allow it to go over cracked road and bumps with less disturbance than the Bolt.

I’m driving a 2017 i3 Rex, so, maybe he’s talking about a 2014. But, I don’t think there’s that much difference. The Bolt is more punishing over rough road, as a Torsion-beam suspension would. AKA Torture-Beam suspension.

From the Bolt Forum:
“Has anyone considered or figured out how to soften that jumpy/bumpy Bolt ride?”

I think he’s got is suspensions mixed.

I think you’ve lost your mind or at least some kind of perspective. The i3 rides very poorly. The Bolt does indeed ride a lot better. The ride in the rear seat of the i3 is punishing. Your theory about cracks may be true when the issue is spanning cracks, but the issue with suspensions on road is generally not that. The high pressure narrow tires of the i3 lead to an overall stiffer suspension (tires are part of the suspension) and thus a harsher ride. Torsion-beams are not more punishing, not sure where you got that idea. The big difference between the two is not so much the ride but the way each controls geometry changes during deflections. A torsion beam will in some common conditions produce a larger undesired camber or toe change on the tire contact patch. This will make lateral grip more poor during the deflection. But it does not make the suspension more rough. from edmunds: ‘And in the city, over speed bumps, potholes, construction grates and intersection-gutters, the i3 bounced quite a bit. The entire cabin seemed to move as one piece, communicating road surface changes with dramatic hops. Some of this comes down… Read more »

Interesting comments about the Bolt’s display angle.
Oh, and I love that song. With the advent of autonomous cars we’re getting that much closer to the future portrayed in it.

Not an EV owner, but am looking into it; my best friend extols the virtues of his Volt endlessly. I did have a question about the regen on demand. If it indeed stops the vehicle that quickly, does it activate the brake lights? If not there are going to be a lot of Bolts get rear-ended when the person behind them doesn’t realize the car is stopping quickly.

Yep, the brake lights on the Bolt and Volt are activated when using the regen on demand paddle or driving in L.

As far as I know, all EVs behave similarly when decelerating via regen.

We own a Bolt and Volt. You cannot go wrong with either. Both cars are fantastic.

Second the desire to have zero-regen in D, or at least the ability to select whether to have any or not. Great range-extender for highway driving and sure beats popping the car into Neutral on every little downslope. As the original owner of a 1967 Saab with freewheel, to me this is ‘natural’.

Two points:

1. The “friction brakes” are actually regen when you step on the brake pedal, with the additional feature that they’re variable. The more you press, the more regen. You have to press pretty hard before you actually switch to the mechanical friction brakes.

2. Proof that the shifter is a bad design? They include a one-page “cheat sheet” for the guy at the car wash so he can leave the car in neutral and exit the vehicle. I challenge anyone to get this car through a normal (not self-serve) car wash.

The car has lots of little annoyances: shiny chrome strip above radio, seats too narrow (although someone has an “install more padding” hack), XM radio stations don’t display the station name, no “homelink” garage door opener. Overall, I really like it. It drives like a car, and you don’t really have to think about it being electric. Uh, unless you go on a long trip!

Thank you Tom for a great comparison and valuable insight. ‘Being inclined to buy a Ford C-max sometime soon due to it’s perceived utility for my situation, I’ll reconsider that desire and wait for a Ford and Nissan reply to the GM Bolt.

Very good review! There’s one question you didn’t answer: which car do you prefer driving, the Bolt or the i3, and why?

When testing a suspension, it’s not good to focus only on the front suspension. McPierson struts can mask just how bad the rear torque-tube suspension is.

So, I disagree.
BMW i3 has a fully independent suspension, so both wheels don’t crash and react, and transmit turbulence into the car with every bump on either right or left rear wheel hits an obstruction.

And the BMW ride is premium smooth on good highway roads.
There’s only so much a suspension can do to convert bad roads into a good ride.

Also, the BMW i3’s tall wheels roll over road imperfections better. — Physics of a large wheel.

So, maybe for some that rear torsion beam suspension would seem better, but, it isn’t.

Also, the BMW i3 2017 isn’t “skittish” on highways.

Chevy stepped in it by using a modified Sonic platform. It’s too damn narrow to fit IRS without excessive intrusion into cargo space.

It’s utterly absurd for a $40K car to use a torsion beam rear end. I could understand the trade-off if they managed a sub-$30K Bolt but for about the same price as a Model 3 it’s kind of pathetic.

Anyways, I’ll take advantage of the Bolt’s excessive depreciation in a year or two and buy one used. At less than $20K it will be a steal.

Respectfully, that is absurd. The i3’s bicycle-narrow, rubber-band-profile tires follow every groove in the highway and bash into every ripple in the road. It is literally the worst driving car I have ever taken on a highway, and that’s saying a lot. But it is lovely and peaceful in town. The BMW i3 was designed to be a city car, and that’s exactly what it is. It does one thing and does it well. It is not a sports car, and as a highway commuter it’s inferior to a Corolla, or a Sonic, or—yep—a Bolt. The i3 is world’s best city car, full stop. No less, but don’t BS yourself because of that blue-and-white propeller, no more either.

A very helpful review. Thanks. One thing that upsets me is that the Bolt doesn’t have an ACC. My wife doesn’t use it but I use it all the time on our i3 and love it. Your review got me thinking. Maybe I could use the paddle to come to a stop, then hit a resume button to get off from my dead stop. That may be good enough. Is there a safety stop that will stop for me instead. Love my ACC.

Unlucky, Do you by chance own a Bolt? It sounds like perhaps you sell them instead….. I do own a Bolt, with the ASH Gray Dash. Let me assure you, the windshield glare IS a problem. The darker gray dash that was in the car tested here, is significantly better. Your comparison to a Saturn is not applicable, as the design, etc is much different. This is my 3rd EV, so I have some experience with the technology. While the car has some great technical features, I must agree with the reviewer about the interior. I would say “cheap” is a better description for parts of it…. The seats are better suited to “smaller people”, under 190lbs. That said, they seem to be fine for shorter trips if you are over 190. The Regen is very good. The shifter is a bit cumbersome to get accustomed to. I also believe that Chevy is being a bit too conservative with the DC charge settings. The Glare issue is truly dangerous, especially when driving towards or into an area shaded or not filled with sunlight. (under trees, into garages, under bridges, etc) If you have not actually driven one with the light… Read more »


Holy Schnikes!

Thanks for pointing that out so we know to avoid the light ash dashes. GM seem to have gone cheap on Bolt development, letting LG do the electronics and for their own side doing the least needed to make a Sonic platform into a long range EV.

I have a lot of extended family who work at GM so I’ll be buying a Bolt (used), but damn sometimes GM are so frustrating the way they get a car 15% short of greatness.

About the main subject matter
How much does it cost to charge the battery for every 30 mile?