2019 Chevy Bolt EV Review – The Best Electric Car?


Mash that play button to find out!

The 2019 Chevy Bolt reviews are coming in and this video (above) may well be one of the best we’ve seen so far. In it, a pair of convivial Canadians — Jakub and Yuri of The Straight Pipes YouTube Channel fame — take the electric hatch out into the wilds and give their impressions of its performance and features. We’ll go over parts of the review here, but if you can find the time, we recommend zapping up some popcorn and hitting that play button.

The two begin their appraisal of the car, painted up in the new-for-2019 Shock color, with some key performance numbers. We’re told it boasts 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, and offers 238 miles (383 km) of range. If you’re familiar with the 2017 and 2018 model years, these numbers will sound familiar as they have not changed. In any case, the boys find the effect of all those electric horses and torques to be quite entertaining, calling it a “burn-out machine/monster” and demonstrating its front-tire sizzling capability.

From here, the Canucks make a lot of comparisons of the Bolt with the BMW i3s, which they had recently reviewed. Jakub contends the Bolt is the better of the two, and runs through his reasons: he prefers the Chevy’s approach to one-pedal driving because it’s somewhat adjustable; the interior is more normal looking and intuitive to him; the infotainment system reflects the range and the various factors that may impact it quite well. There are even more feature comparisons, but we’ll let you watch the video to discover them and why Yuri still seems to prefer the more expensive baby Bimmer.

The Bolt does gets a knock for its handling. While obviously not meant to be a sportscar, the two remark on its understeer. Their take on another part of the driving dynamics is a bit surprising. Discussing the car’s significant torque steer, it becomes apparent that they not only don’t seem to mind it, they rather enjoy the way the drivetrain communicates its power when the right pedal gets the boot. For this writer, that’s more of an indication of the lack of engineering (for example, Honda managed to negate torque steer from its latest Civic Type R with a bit of ingenuity), but we digress.

They sum up by saying that, given the amount of available range, the Chevy Bolt only faces competition from the Tesla Model 3 currently, though the Hyundai Kona Electric will offer a challenge soon. (To see how the Bolt lines up against these two, check out their respective installments of our EV Comparison series) Enjoy!


Source: YouTube

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58 Comments on "2019 Chevy Bolt EV Review – The Best Electric Car?"

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It’s always amusing when people are enthusiastic about a FWD car spinning it’s tires. It’s like yeah, that’s exactly why performance cars aren’t FWD–It’s too easy to spin them even on an underpowered car because all the weight shifts to the back end when you accelerate!

I find FWD awful as an enthusiast but I can at least understand gas cars went that way for economics. I don’t follow making scratch designed electric cars FWD as there’s no transmission or other cost savings to gain–Just purely worse performance.

It’s really annoying in our FWD vehicle when accelerating from a stop through a gap in traffic only to have the front wheels break loose at any sort of sudden acceleration. This scenario simply doesn’t happen in our RWD car.

Snow. RWD are a disaster in the snow.

A common misconception. RWD ICEVs are bad in the snow because the weight of the engine is up front. Without weight over the wheels, the car tends to fishtail. But even that has been fixed with modern traction control. An EV does not have this issue, since its weight is evenly distributed front to back.

I have a bit of experience driving in snow, living in the snowiest city in the US. I drove my friend’s BMW 328i in the snow and could not get it to spin as hard as I tried. Then he turned off the traction control, and we did donuts :).

They are. That’s why you have to buy snow for those beast. All season tires for the last couple of winters in my Volt

You’re right, I should have mentioned the importance of snow tires.

You really should buy snows for your Volt too, if you regularly drive in snow. I always buy them for my cars. It doesn’t cost much more than all seasons, since your summer tires get fewer miles on them and therefore last longer.

Heck, even AWD cars should have snow tires – AWD is useless when none of the tires have any grip.

Of course awd shall have snow tires. They brake too. It’s about braking distance not acceleration 😉

And rain.

RWD cars handle better in the snow, you just need a proper differential and tires. The handling can be less safe to someone that isn’t familiar with oversteer, but modern stability controls nearly eliminate that.

The huge issue with FWD is that the tires that steer are the same tires providing traction. If the tire slips from acceleration it also loses its ability to steer. This doesn’t happen on RWD and you can actually steer it by adjusting the slip of the rear wheels using the accelerator.

Typically, RWD cars are deemed bad in snow from lack of traction on the driving wheels, which can be a problem, but only if you have improper tires and an open differential. Adding weight over the rear wheels can help too.

Not the BMW i3. It’s very good in the snow, esp. with Traction Control on.

I am looking forward to driving mine, actually rear weight bias with REx, and just put the snow tires on yesterday.

Can’t agree more about a FWD EV. If the battery is underneath like a Tesla or the Bolt FWD is just stupid. Shows how little GM understands EVs or cares about them.

Seriously?? This comment shows how little you understand or care about cars.

I’d say, a typical electric car of near future will end up being AWD.

The Bolt was build off the Sonic frame, for “cost savings”, and to get it rapidly to market. Still waiting for GM engineers to be given a green light to actually do the Excellent Engineering they’re capable of.

The Bolt EV has a unique frame. It shares production, and likely some parts with the Sonic, but it is not the same platform.

Yes, but the design used the Sonic as a starting point — which is likely why RWD was not considered an option.

Exactly, I think the test mule was a Sonic/Trax mix. Production lines to be shared might depend on a similar arrangement of where stuff goes too.

However, there is also a stigma with RWD that might be hard to overcome. Where people think they are terrible in the snow, so we might be stuck with FWD on many of these anyway.

Hopefully in that next-gen EV platform that is supposed to finally produce some profitable GM EVs?..

Couldn’t have said it better myself. I too wish my Bolt was RWD.

I think people are afraid of RWD because of perceived performance issues in icy/snowy weather. But that was true in an ICE largely due to the fact that the weight (engine) was mostly over the front wheels, leaving the rear wheels to slip on ice, and the car to fishtail. With an EV, the weight is properly distributed. And with modern traction control, it’s much less of an issue to begin with.

So again, yeah, I wish my Bolt was RWD. Even though I live in the snowiest city in the US.

I wish mine was too, but I live in California and never go to the snow. I might feel different if I had to deal with that crap, I don’t know. I do understand why car companies choose FWD though. If you’re designing a car for anybody and everybody to drive everywhere, FWD is a good option and it helps with packaging too.

FWD is great on a gas car where the engine has to be mounted in the front. The transaxle is a lot more efficient than the transmission and long driveshaft to a differential to the wheels.

However, on an EV with small electric motors you don’t get an efficiency advantage with FWD vs RWD. Both are equally as good. RWD being nice as your steering is decoupled from your acceleration. This also means no CV joints to go bad (EVs can destroy CV joints rapidly due to extreme torque).

This is a car for the masses, and for such FWD is a much safer and controllable vehicle in all weather and road conditions. If you accelerate hard you get a chirp out of the Bolts FWD, but grip is back asap, but if straight line acceleration on dry roads is your prefered metric of vehicle dynamics, then an i3 or Tesla RWD are your better options. Nice to have choice 🙂

Weight distribution isn’t the only reason RWD is bad in the snow. If it were then the Porsche 911 would be a great snow car (well ok, there are other reasons for that too). The other major factor is that a rear wheel drive car spinning out will fishtail, FWD will not. Traction control takes care of much of that but not all. On the other hand, the perceived advantages of RWD are way overblown. Maybe 1% of drivers understand what torque steer is. Anyways, AWD is slowly taking over, obviating this entire argument.

I didn’t have a clue was torque steer felt like until I drove a FWD EV. It was noticeable in my Leaf, and quite powerful in the Bolt.

That’s another reason why the BMW i3 is such a pleasure to drive.
It’s got a BMW front suspension, and it’s rear engined, rear wheel drive.
The absence of torque steer, and BMW precise steering and suspension are a luxury.

About AWD slowly taking over: that was precisely my thought. I imagine it’s a lot easier to have a smaller motor, or even two per axle than to attempt distributing power from a single gas engine to 4 wheels in such way that they don’t fight each other.

4WD is relatively simple, but as you say, to make smart 4WD it is likely much easier to control with 2 electric motors. Those fancy mechanical transfer cases start getting heavy and expensive, and also become a reliability issue.

I had up to recently, a FWD, RWD, and AWD in my stable of cars. For wet or slippery conditions, my preference was AWD, then FWD, then RWD. For fun mashing of the acceleration on dry days: AWD, RWD, FWD.

The RWD stays in storage during the winter months.

Maybe. But have we ever seen a horse pushing a sledge?

That’s a completely irrelevant comparison. None of the reasons why horses are pulling rather than pushing apply to automobiles.

FWD sucks because of Torque Steer, and a heavy engine fighting transitions. Plus, in most FWD cars the Weight distribution of bad for sports driving 60%/40% or worse.
But, that added weight on the driving wheels in snow helps there, and the front wheel drive package weighs less than a Front engine-Transmission-RearAxle combination of RWD, and therefore is cheaper to build.

That’s why you see it in the Sonic.
But, it should have never made it to the Bolt.

Does it ever snow where you live?

The Bolt may be a great car but it is only available in a few countries.
Even countries that GM has a strong dealer network still miss out on the Bolt.

Bolt EV / Ampera-e is currently sold in 15 countries.

Bolt EV / Ampera-e is currently sold in 15 countries.
In low numbers, not in the World Top 20.

GM ‘logic’: if you’re buying a Bolt you’re not buying a Pickup Truck.

Why this is wrong is, If I’m looking at a Bolt, I’m not interested in any other GM product, except maybe the Volt.

Exactly, Volt one a lot of conquest buys for GM, but they will lose those just as quick if they don’t have alternatives. I bought a Volt, I would buy another GM EV, but nothing else in their stable. I have an i3 REx now.

And in how many of those countries can you count a month’s sales on your fingers?

The Ampera-e is selling in very low volume. Most months’ total sales are <300.


GM does not care about Europe and its population that is greater than the USA.
They seem to ship a few Bolts here but honestly, GM are a dead duck as far as Europe goes since they bailed out and sold Opel/Vauxhall to PSA

I’d trade my current Bolt for a new Shock Bolt.

I have a Prius Prime Advance, Bolt Premier, and Model 3 performance. Love the tech in Prius and economy. The Bolt I like the Birdseye 360 overhead view for parking. I can’t wait to get rid of this car. And the Model 3 just goes without even a chirp, 0-60 in 3.2 secs. The Prius is slow but drives comfortably, the Bolt bounces around and has terrible seats. The Model 3 has a stiff suspension and you feel the bumps but it feels like a rollercoaster.

I’m driving the BMW i3, and after test driving a Prime, with their bad seats, how do you do it? Even in the BMW i3’s most economic setting: Eco-Pro+ it’s still faster and more fun to drive than a Prime.

Do yourself a favor and trade it for a Model 3. You’ll never look back- except at those folks in your rear view mirror.

bahahahah….imagine Bro, after driving him TM3 for a week, coming on here and apologizing for the years of abuse towards Tesla. like that’s going to happen!

If a $35k 3 ever materializes, I’d consider trading in the VOLT.

Come on, man! You can’t do this to us! Then you will actually become credible when you critique Tesla…

No, I suspect not. But I like to tease a little- although I’m actually being straight up and honest.

“though the Hyundai Kona Electric will offer a challenge soon.“

The Kona will be sold more outside the US, while the Bolt is solidly pretty much only in the US. So I don’t see the two competing much.

Not getting any noticeable torque steer with 2017 Volt. Burn outs yes but little to no TS. Maybe the weight of the 1.5 L engine over the FWD?

I would have thought Bolt production would increase since the $7,500 credit ends on March 31, 2019 I think.

The October sales of the bolt ev show 2075 us sales and it edged out the Prius prime, Beat the volt model x and s . The model 3 beat everyone but production and sales are up on bolt ev.
If Gm mainly concentrated on ev’s it would sell more. I like hatchback cars but do like the model 3 too. A used bolt ev will be the best I can do on what I make .

It could be the Dealer network still.
If they’re Mandated to at least sell 1 Bolt a month, that’s all the sales you’ll get.

Don’t look at monthly sales for Model S and X, they don’t make sense. First month in quarter they focus on sending vehicles to more distant locations that won’t be delivered that month, and as they get closer to end of quarter all those cars in transit get delivered.

Saying it “beat” the Model S/X is misleading as it really didn’t in a meaningful way. Comparing a car that sells with maybe $20,000 margin to a car that sells with close to 0 margin really isn’t a great comparison either.

Well, they did claim they are increasing production by 20% this quarter…

Fun review. I like these guys. Thanks for sharing.

I liked that they compared this car to the i3 at the end.

Honda managed to eliminate torque steer with a limited slip differential on the Civic Type R which is pretty common for high level hot hatches. Stop reading Wired.com articles for automotive news.

How exactly are you going to implement a limited slip in an EV without a transmission? The only thing they could have done is install the motor symmetrically.

The Bolt EV doesn’t have a transmission, but it does have a differential, which happens to be an open differential.