2017 Chevy Bolt Full Review Finds 170 Miles Of Range At Constant Full Throttle – video

10 months ago by Mark Kane 55

With GM promoting the Chevrolet Bolt EV in California with the media this week, The Fast Lane Car had chance to test drive Chevy’s 238 mile EV.

Chevrolet Bolt EV

Chevrolet Bolt EV

For these early months of the Bolt EV’s arrival, GM is focusing on California, where it expects roughly half of its sales, but later this year Bolt EV will be sold nationwide (see roll-out schedule here) and deliveries will start in the second half for it’s European cousin, the Opel Ampera-e.

According to Fast Lane Car, the Bolt EV is solid, quick and quiet, with ample regen.  Overall, the Chevy is a practical five-seat ‘normal’ car, and is even entertaining at times.

Bonus: at full “throttle” all the time, Bolt EV still should go 170 miles on a charge.

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55 responses to "2017 Chevy Bolt Full Review Finds 170 Miles Of Range At Constant Full Throttle – video"

  1. Kdawg says:

    Nice review though a couple nit-picks.

    * Why call the car you drive every day to work your “second car”, yet the car you rarely use to drive to grandmas your “primary car”

    * Why would FWD be a deal-breaker for the whole state of Colorado. Unless you live in the mountains, or drive there regularly, you don’t need AWD.

    1. DougB says:

      Coloradans prefer AWD or 4WD but a good set of winter tires mostly makes up for this. Those that travel to the mtns for skiing etc often have a second car anyhow, so one FWD is fine for winter front range driving just may not be best for weekend mtn fun.

      1. Kosh says:

        FWD in the snow is just fine actually and preferable to RWD, we drove a FWD Dodge minivan in Denver for 9 years, no issues, except when the snow was so deep it piled up in front of the car.

        1. Ziv says:

          I agree about FWD being better than RWD in the snow, but AWD is nice if you have long winters. So Colorado is one place where I would like to have AWD in my vehicle, though, admittedly, I have always had RWD or FWD on my vehicles so far.
          I do miss RWD when I am driving at speed and cornering, but I think overall I prefer FWD.
          But I think with electric vehicles there is an opportunity for AWD to become fairly common, following Tesla’s lead.

          1. Just_chris says:

            The rotational speed of an electric motor is controlled electronically. This means the wheels won’t spin uncontrollably if you loose traction. If the bolt has a limited slip differential it will be far better in the snow than a regular ice vehicle. AWD would be nice but I suspect if you add snow tires and are smart with your regen settings a bolt could be a very capable vehicle in the snow. Especially when driving down hill, or rather when trying to slow down when going down a snowy slope. The extra weight will be an issue around corners but corners are always a problem in the snow, even when just walking briskly.

            1. Jeff says:

              You are correct I drive a Leaf here in Canada. With snow tires on, it is excellent in the snow.

        2. Dennis says:

          Is “FWD preferable to RWD” a hold over from ICE cars, where a majority of the weight is in the front, because that’s where the heavy engine is? Don’t RWD Teslas work just fine in the snow, because the weight is more evenly distributed?

          1. Neromanceres says:

            Yes and no. Weight helps in the snow no doubt. But FWD is superior to RWD in the snow and slippery conditions. In a RWD car if you skid around a corner and you apply a bit of throttle it can spin you out. In a FWD car in a skit if you apply a bit of power it can actually pull you straight.

            1. All-Purpose Guru says:

              This is true. In fact, in cases where you have a 4wd and only two chains you chain up the FRONT wheels over the back.

              The front wheels not only have better brakes on older cars but they have directionality for steering and control.

              HOWEVER, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen FWD cars with chains on the back.

              obJustification: I grew up in the Shasta Cascades, where seriously messes with your life in the winter.

      2. no comment says:

        the suggestion that fwd is a “deal breaker” in colorado is ridiculous. in colorado, all of the largest cities are in the “front range” region, which is mainly flat. for the comparatively small segment of the population that likes to go on weekend skiing jaunts, they can buy a 4wd vehicle.

        1. AlanSqB says:

          Correct. And actually you’ll find about as many Honda Civics as Subarus at the slopes because they are honestly really good at keeping the roads here in drivable condition. Lived in CO for 6 years now and have never not been able to get somewhere without 4wd.

    2. no comment says:

      i think this is related to the concept of what used to be called a “work” car versus what was called a “family” car. the “family” car was always considered to be the “primary” car because it was most likely to be bought new, where the “work” car was more likely to have been bought as a used car.

  2. Ambulator says:

    You can’t actually drive the Bolt at full throttle very far. It has a speed limiter. But that is an interesting figure for how far it can go at maximum speed.

    1. Bone says:

      Now that you started the nitpicking, you can’t drive at full at all since Bolt doesn’t have a throttle. A throttle is a mechanism that controls fluid flow.

  3. ffbj says:

    Don’t take it on the Autobahn.

    1. mhpr262 says:

      The Autobahn is not what foreigners think it is. I have driven thousands of kilometers on the Autobahn in my 45hp and 55hp subcompacts, rarely going more than 70mph and never had a problem. You DO have to really pay attention when pulling into the fast lane to overtake trucks though.

  4. Jeff N says:

    Article sez:
    “Bonus: at full “throttle” all the time, Bolt EV still should go 170 miles on a charge.”

    Yes, the reviewer says a GM person told him this but that number seems implausibly optimistic.

    I doubt that is the real internal GM test result for steady-state miles at 92 mph. The real number is likely far lower.

    1. cros13 says:

      I disagree. I regularly drive my i3 at the limiter (153km/h) on the motorway. That would be a sustained speed just above the Bolt’s.
      I’ve even done it legally on the autobahn…. on occasion.
      Sustained power consumption is between 20 and 30kWh / 100km depending on gradient/headwinds etc.

      Based on my consumption, the capacity of the Bolt’s pack and slightly better aerodynamics I have little doubt that a Bolt could get above 250km at that speed.

      1. Zoomit says:

        The CdA of the Bolt EV is about 15% worse than the i3. This is the primary determinate of the efficiency at high speeds. If we take 15% off your 250km, that turns into 217km (135mi), which is significantly lower than 274km (170mi).

        1. SparkEV says:

          Beyond some speed, CdA matters the most. For example, SparkEV gets 5 mi/kWh at 62 MPH and i3 gets 4.8 mi/kWh at 62 MPH as tested by Tony Williams, yet they have roughly similar CdA (maybe bit worse CdA for SparkEV). Drive train efficiency also matter at typical driving speeds.

          Another point of interest is that SparkEV got 4.4 mi/kWh at 70 MPH. Looking at some forum posts, i3 shows bit under 4 mi/kWh.

          1. JeremyK says:

            I believe gear ratio in the Bolt is taller than Spark or i3.

            1. SparkEV says:

              SparkEV has tallest gear ratio among any car in the world at 3.17:1. Bolt is 7.05:1, i3 is 9.7:1. Most other EV (ie, Leaf) hover around 9:1 ratio. SparkEV can do this, because the motor is extremely torquey at 327 ft-lbs (or 400 ft-lbs for 2014 model), far more than Bolt or just about any other EV other than Tesla.

    2. Neromanceres says:

      Many people who are now Bolt EV owners are still seeing ranges over 200 miles at 75mph in good weather. So 170 miles of range at 92mph seems very plausible.

  5. tosho says:

    Nice Tesla photobomb at 0:23. The perfect intro for a Bolt review 😀

    1. ffbj says:

      That was funny.

  6. cmina says:

    Here’s another somewhat more “detailed” review:

    https://www.youtube.com/embed/5MEQAV0Aud8

    1. Jeff N says:

      Yes, but the luggage capacity is better than he suggests because he forgot to drop down the false loading floor which adds significant cargo space when the rear seats are upright.

      Overall, though, it’s a good and detailed review.

      1. cmina says:

        It is somewhat better, indeed:

        More info that escaped me so far:

        “OTA Updates: Besides CarPlay/Android Auto and OnStar, none of the Bolt’s systems can be updated over the air.

        .. at 55kW peak DC charging capability and no upgrade available here, the Bolt is at best going to add 90 miles in 30 minutes of charging.”

        source

        1. unlucky says:

          “OTA Updates: Besides CarPlay/Android Auto and OnStar, none of the Bolt’s systems can be updated over the air.”

          That escaped you because it’s probably wrong.

          The manual is clear that the car joins Wifi hotspots so that it can do OTA updates on the entertainment system software.

          There would be no need for the OnStar system to update by joining a hotspot, it already has cellular connectivity and in fact provides the WiFi hotspot using that connectivity. There is no need for your car to join a Wifi hotspot to update CarPlay/Android Auto since those are on your phone and your phone handles its own connectivity.

          The only thing that would need to join WiFi to update itself would be the instrument cluster or infotainment system.

          So electrek is probably wrong with this statement. Although we won’t really know until GM pushes an update (or never does).

    2. Kdawg says:

      Also on the HVAC, if he would have just turned the fan off w/the physical buttons it would turn the HVAC off. No need to use touchscreen.

    3. unlucky says:

      While I find it bizarre the camera doesn’t work in park, it does work in drive if you have a front camera. He can’t view the camera in drive because he has a model with only a reverse camera.

      GM doesn’t let you drive normally with camera views up. Only Tesla does. Car companies aren’t really supposed to do it and most pay attention to the regs, but Tesla ignores then. GM doesn’t.

      So the cameras turn off at more than parking lot speeds on the Bolt. Except for the rear view mirror one which is government approved to be on all the time.

      I still cannot comprehend why you can’t turn the cameras on in park.

      Why did he not remove the trunk floor? You can even flip it up behind the seats and leave it in and get virtually all the extra room still.

      When he complains about the CCS chargers in California why does he immediately assume he’ll be stuck waiting? There are chargers every 50 miles or so. Just start looking early and if the charger is full move on to the next one. You get a couple tries at finding an open charger before you really are stuck waiting. He seems to get this with the Tesla “I stay away from Tejon” (because it is busy) but he doesn’t apply it to the Bolt.

      1. Alex Venz says:

        Just a quick note: the Bolt did have the front facing camera, it was accessible while in reverse and then for a brief time after reversing (cut out after a certain speed). The rear camera feed to the rearview mirror was always accessible.

        As for the CCS station comment, 1 or 2 50kW plugs every 50 miles or so doesn’t cut it in the example I was providing if Bolts sell in any meaningful quantity. Two plugs every 50 miles on a 350 mile trip works out to 14 available plugs across the whole travel route along a major highway… one more plug than exists *just* at the Harris Ranch Supercharger. The path along I-5 between Southern California and the SF Bay Area/South Bay has a total of 61 Supercharger plugs and it’s still possible to get stuck waiting if you aren’t careful around the holidays. There probably aren’t more than 50k Teslas in all of California (which is nothing compared to CA’s automotive fleet size). Now do you see why I said what I did? A car like the Bolt will highlight the inadequacy of the current CCS network–independent build-out is occurring, but I don’t think that it’ll be done quickly enough to avoid near-term issues.

  7. Mike says:

    An interesting comparison is the Dodge Hellcat, which can use the entire 19 gallon tank in under 13 minutes at full throttle. Ya it is going about 200 mph, but the range is only 40 miles.

    1. Tom says:

      Doubling velocity generates 4 times the drag, so should a Bolt achieve 200 mph, its 170 mile should also drop to around 40. Granted, it has the equivalent of a 2 gallon tank vs 18.5 on the Dodge. Still, food for thought…

      1. John says:

        If speed doubles, drag quadruples, but required _power_ multiplies by 8.

        1. John says:

          F = k * v², P = F * v

          => P = k * v³

          1. unlucky says:

            Yes, but you’re covering ground at twice the rate.

            So 8x the energy to go 2x as far. Or 4x to go the same distance.

            And we are talking about energy (range) here.

  8. HVACman says:

    My drag calculations suggest that the Bolt at its maximum 91 mph speed will have a drag power of just over 30 kW. Add in 5 kW to cover rolling resistance + motor/inverter efficiency losses + accessory power = 35 kW.

    Using all 60 kWh of battery at a 35 kW rate, that would be 1.71 hours.

    x 91 mph = 156 miles. So 170 miles at full throttle seems pretty close.

  9. Some Guy says:

    Nice to know range at full throttle – when autobahns come to the US.

    1. David Cary says:

      Of course, 91 or 92 mph is a common speed in much of the US. So one need not invoke the autobahn to take advantage of it.

      Speed limits are very frustrating to me. For a long time, they were limited based on energy efficiency. Then we didn’t care. So we gradually increased them. I live in a 70 mph state with no pull overs until 79+. The fact is that 90 mph in a modern car on a rural interstate is not a big deal from a safety standpoint. The pull overs are revenue generation – and we all know it and live with it.

      Speed kills. Of course. But it generally takes inattentive drivers also. Or some other factor.

      I just can’t wait for the day when 100 mph in automated electric aerodynamic cars in the norm. Everything else is just noise.

      As an aside, my Leaf can go over 92 mph. Why such a low top speed. Fairly practical but they still aren’t going for the testosterone crowd when it should have been really easy with such a large battery. Maybe aerodynamics does matter….

  10. Daniel says:

    This could probably be calculated using a dynamometer (and a little math) to allow for drag, driveline losses etc.

    1. unlucky says:

      Why?

      I can just get on a flat road and do 93. Then with the instrument cluster in the enchanced mode look at the power being used to maintain 93.

      Then divide 60kWh by that rate and multiply by 93 and you have the range.

      Better do it all on level ground.

  11. no comment says:

    i think that this is a pretty nice review of the Bolt. the car seems quite appealing to me but what would keep me from buying one is the recharge time for the battery. i live in a place with cold winters and snow, so in my mind, i cut the range in half. during the winter, i set the temperate quite a bit higher than do EV enthusiasts, so i can’t expect the kind of range that EV enthusiasts would report.

    given my driving pattern, i would almost never have a problem with range, but i don’t like the idea of having a car in which the outlier driving scenario might be a problem. so while i like the idea of electric vehicles in general, my “risk” profile is such that a PHEV is a better choice. in the future, i would probably be more likely to go with an FCEV approach as the path to zero-emission driving than with a BEV approach.

    fuel cells seem to be making good progress. on a cost/mile basis, hydrogen is already comparable to gasoline. hopefully, the cost of batteries will continue to decrease such that FCEVs would have enough charge storage capacity that you can do most of your driving using charge stored in the battery such that hydrogen can be used to provide range for more “outlier” driving scenarios.

    1. EV=conservation says:

      No thank you to fuel cell vehicle. Never again will I be forced to buy from a monopoly for fuel and that is what you will get with hydrogen.

  12. hpver says:

    Don’t know about anyone else, but I need data on going up and down hills (e.g. extra energy needed to gain 1000 feet of altitude vs. driving on flat ground), not going 90+ mph, which is something I’d never do.

    1. Vinny says:

      hver

      I have ridden my Zero SR out through the hills of western NC and northern GA several times. The best advice I can give on hills is not to freak out about the increased power usage while climbing hills. I had a tough time with this at first. Once you get to the top and start going down you may be traveling several miles without seeing your charge level drop. In some cases your charge level may actually increase due to regen. Every hill is different in length, steepness and speed so tough to come up with a formula. After awhile I learned not to worry about it.

      1. hpver says:

        I’m aware of that. We had Leaf for more than 3 years and I drove the hills in it. We now have a Spark EV and I do the same. But every car is different. I would love love to see how the Bolt does. We need to go 140 miles over a 4,000-foot pass. Probably doable but I’d love to have some hard data.

        1. unlucky says:

          140 miles over a 4,000 foot pass will be no problem at all if you keep to the speed limit.

  13. DavidPDX says:

    Portland is the other early market. I’ve been on my Bolt up here for about 3 weeks and loving it. Huge upgrade from my Leaf.

  14. Richard C says:

    Well, I’ve had my new Bolt EV for a little over a week, and I love this car.

    A couple things I love:
    The instant torque (especially in Sport Mode). It really accelerates quickly, which is loads of fun.

    Driving in L instead of D allows for very strong regeneration when you let up on the accelerator, making one pedal driving a reality. I’ve barely used the brake pedal at all.

    Annoyances:
    The radio comes on automatically every time you start the car. No way to stop it from doing that.

    Not having a garage door opener (at least as an option)in a plug-in vehicle boggles my mind.

    Overall however, I think I’ll be extremely happy with this car. I’m hoping GM will be correcting the radio bug in a future software release.

    1. DL says:

      I really don’t understand why people get their panties in such a wad about Homelink. the last 3 cars I’ve owned had it and I never even bothered to spent the effort to program it; I just put the normal remote in the driver’s door pocket and use it from there. I guess if I had MULTIPLE devices then it might be worthwhile, but otherwise it seems like a gimmick.

      1. Richard C says:

        The issue I have with keeping the remote in the car is, if the car were to be broken into, you’ve just lost a “key” to your garage (and they probably know your address from the registration papers in the vehicle. With a built-in opener, they’d have to drive your car to your home to use it.

        It’s just insane to me that a $40,000 vehicle that requires plugging in doesn’t have this basic feature – at the very least with the option.

  15. Blaiwesk says:

    How is the ground clearance compared to Volt?

  16. Justin says:

    What I’d like to have GM confirm is that the motor & battery & ESC can handle sustained high-power usage scenarios like cruising at top speed with a headwind, our pulling normal 70mph highway speed up a long steep grade. No doubt it will do it, but would you be causing localized overheating of drivetrain components on the process and shortening life span.

    The fact that towing is “not recommended” leads me to believe that the drivetrain does not have a lot of cooling headroom. To me an EV is the ideal tow car assuming you can deal with the reduced range due to aerodynamic drag and extra rolling resistance. But a high-torque drivetrain, no transmission fluid to cool or clutch to overheat, and the ability to reclaim all the kinetic energy when slowing are ideal. Think diesel but you can reclaim spent energy rather than turn it into heat via friction breaks.

  17. Paul says:

    I was surprised how narrow the driver’s seat. Admittedly I didn’t have long to drive it so I might have set it up wrong, but it was uncomfortable and I’m only 5 ft 8″ and 160 lbs.