Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet Bolt Test Drive: “Surprisingly Roomy, Downright Quick And Without Compromise”

NOV 7 2016 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 96

One more glowing review of the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt has hit the Internet. This one comes to us via the folks over at Kelley Blue Book who concludes the following:

Chevrolet Bolt

Chevrolet Bolt

“The Bolt’s appeal doesn’t come from its status as an electric vehicle. The Bolt’s appeal comes from its status as an excellent car. The electric drivetrain, with a 238-mile range for less than $40,000, is just a cool bonus.” — Karl Brauer, Executive Publisher, Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book

So, it’s an excellent car, not just excellent because its electric, or excellent for an electric car. It’s excellent regardless of any of that.

The Kelley Blue Book review of the Bolt (via Forbes) also features the thoughts of Michael Harley, Director, Kelley Blue Book Automotive Industry Insights. Harley’s take on the Bolt is summed up as follows:

“Eerily silent, surprisingly roomy, downright quick, and without compromise — that’s how I’d sum up my driving impressions about the all-new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt after a brief, but informative, 30-minute jaunt in Southern California.”

Harley adds:

“The pure-EV four-door is fun to drive, which is something that I genuinely didn’t expect as I’m the type of person who prefers old-fashioned, fuel-fed, combustion under the hood. I crave robust acceleration off the line and enough pep to move effortlessly through traffic — the Bolt delivers both. Its electric motor is eager and instantaneous in its response, but more important is its 266 pound-feet of torque that gives it a startling amount of muscle. Mash the accelerator pedal and the front tires spin helplessly until traction control quickly comes to aid. Then, the Bolt it zips forward with a first-across-the-intersection amount of zest — its 0 to 60 mph run is less than 7 seconds.”

Go ahead and check out the test drive review in its entirety at the link below. Like most reviews of the Bolt we’ve seen thus far, there’s barely any negative comments.  Is the Bolt really that amazing?   Only time (and its arrival to the public in December) will tell.

Source: Forbes

Categories: Chevrolet, Test Drives

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96 Comments on "Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet Bolt Test Drive: “Surprisingly Roomy, Downright Quick And Without Compromise”"

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Good job Chevy, now lets see you market and sell as many as you can.

I’ll be shocked and amazed if I ever see one on a dealership lot in Pennsylvania.

Don’t blame Chevrolet for the Bolt not being sold in Pennsylvania. Blame the 3rd party franchise dealership that doesn’t want to become “certified” by GM to sell the Volt or Bolt.

Bolt has got a lot going for it….Except I find it “Hard on the eyes” & Skimpy , Especially at That Price..

What are you comparing it to?

The compromise is the “status”…It won’t put a smile on your valet’s face nor will a teen get lucky if he rents this for his prom but it is practical…

And the transmission shifter, from comments I’ve seen. And the lack of a dedicated fast charger network for much of the country.

Because nobody bought Leafs or i3’s w/out a dedicated network?

Its pretty much just early adopters that buy LEAF’s and i3’s now. But next gen EV’s will not really penetrate the mainstream market until those mainstream consumers can both afford them and drive them with total freedom. For most of Tesla buyers the Supercharger network was very influential in their decision to to buy a Tesla. See this PlugInsights survey:

http://www.pevcollaborative.org/sites/all/themes/pev/files/12_Hajjar%20PEVC%20Presentation%20150309.pdf

Quoting:
88% of Tesla Model S drivers knew about the Supercharger network before buying.

67% of these drivers said it was either extremely influential or very influential to their purchase decision. Only 5% said it had no impact.

• The corollary: LACK of a well-planned fast charge network REPRESSES long-range BEV sales.

I would categorize those Tesla owners as “early adopters” as well. Once people understand more about how EVs work, their driving patterns, charging patterns, etc… they will start to realize they don’t really *need* a coast-to-coast supercharging network. (They will also learn this is being developed anyway). Also bear in mind that most homes have 2 cars (or more) so a BEV doesn’t need to be the car that goes to Grandma’s.

You might be able to technically call them early adopters, but their EVs do have long range and freedom of travel that 1st gen EVs don’t, and that freedom to travel was/is an important part of their decision to buy a Tesla.

Yes, the Supercharger network may not be needed a lot of the time, but it can’t be denied its an important piece of the buying choice of long range EVs in many people’s minds. Think of how many times in comments here on Inside EVs the lack of a good DCFC network is brought up as a reason to choose a Model 3 instead of a Bolt!! People want freedom to travel effortlessly, and yes, it’s mostly a mind thing.

The shifter complaint is a canard fielded by an idiot reviewer who never drove an electric car before. They were complaining that the car has no positive indications of drive outside lighting a light up, which is exactly how the leaf, and I am sure, other cars work.

I can’t speak to the lucky or unlucky teenager theory, only to the idea that even a crappy apartment beats the hottest car in existence for personal moisture negotiations.

What’s wrong with your charger at home? Seriously, if you need to use a fast charger on a frequent basis, you’ve grossly underestimated your driving habits and you need to get an ICE car.

There are plenty of countries in the world that have really high densities of quick chargers. And not a single one of them has a high market share of EVs.

The only country that does is the one that taxes the crap out of gassers until they cost the same as EVs. People only care about the up-front cost. If it’s higher than a “normal” car, they won’t buy.

If your teen needs a Tesla to get lucky, your teen has no game.

That’s why we need autopilot (or a limo) can put both both hands to good use…

Teslatroll

I’ve been called far worse…

Anyone who buys a car because of how the valet will react to it is a moron though. You can’t seriously think this amounts to a real argument in favour of our against any car.

A rich moron. “Does this car look good on me?”

Ok GM….

Ramp up production – you’ve got a winner that’s going to sell like crazy !

You mean LG. GM could make hundreds of thousands of Bolt gliders, but they won’t sell without LG’s batteries, motors, electronics, etc.

Shane, you obviously don’t know how Detroit works. Or rather, how the Big Three source the majority of their parts.

LG Chem has a bigger chunk of the Bolt than most OEM’s, but it is a matter of degree. Ask what Ford thought of Aisin back when the Ford was seeing demand for their Escape Hybrid skyrocketing. Oddly enough, Aisin, the builder of the Escape Hybrid’s CVT, decided they not only wouldn’t build more CVT’s for Ford, they would have to cut their deliveries slightly. So an OEM actually cut the ability of Ford to sell additional Ford Escape Hybrids. And Aisin was partially owned by Toyota, which was just a coincidence, I bet.

If GM has the demand for more than 30,000 Bolts by the end of next year, you can bet LG will find a way to build more. The problem is that Chevy’s reputation for crappy small cars is going to be hard to overcome. The demand for the Bolt probably won’t exceed 30k by much, if at all.

Chevy generally delivers a great electric car, but they deliver it at an MSRP that discourages all but the most motivated electric car buyer.

Given that traction obviously limits performance an AWD version would be have been nice. It also would make the Bolt as legitamate an SUV as most of the silly/crappy little SUVs on the market today.

Honestly, I would give up my M3 reservation if that were an option.

I’m sitting tight waiting for an AWD 200+ mile EV. My little gas powered AWD SUV has 150K miles on it. (Also need a reliable super charger between Portland & Seattle.)

Not only do I like AWD for driving in snow & ice (I ski about 50 days per season), but I also like AWD for merging into traffic on the wet roads we often have here in the PNW.

All EVs should be AWD. This is good not only for the high torque of the electric motors but also allows for recuperation braking on all wheels.

Good point. Regenerative braking hadn’t occurred to me. You can also gear the second motor to improve efficiency ala Tesla.

And Tesla AWD systems are more efficient than their RWD systems.

Yeah, sigh:

I’ve only had 2WD Ev’s so when getting regeneration the Front of the car slows down meanwhile the back of the car keeps going.

And vice-versa with the Roadster.

(Gets rather jumbled in the passenger compartment).

I think that GM has done a decent job of mimicking Tesla’s non-advertising marketing on the Bolt.

They have been releasing bits and pieces about the car every few weeks all year long to keep the car in the news. They they didn’t just reveal all the cars features in January then let it sit quietly for months.

I don’t know if it’s intentional, but reviews/previews seem to be staggered a few days apart from each other in the ramp up to release.

This has kept the car in the conversation, even on sites not devoted to EVs such as Car and Driver, Autoblog, and GM Authority.

I hope they start putting out traditional ads next year to reach average drivers. But they definitely have figured out the recipe for building anticipation from the early adopters.

Yes, GM did a great job.

Let’s hope the dealers don’t ruin it by applying a markup at the first sign of interest.

After all, the NADA guy kept saying dealers offer competition and that is a good thing for us customers.

Yeah, agreed. I stopped buying Toyota’s after a frustrating experience at multiple dealers.

I have scoped out the best high volume Chevy EV dealership in my area and will be buying my Bolt from them. 🙂

I’m totally fine paying MSRP… but I am not going to pay some markup just to have it first. I can wait.

Yesss. I’m clairvoyant. The car I envisaged before I signed.

My first EV was the 2013 Honda Fit EV, and I still remember thinking that if it only had 3 times the range (80 miles times 3), that it’d be an amazing car that the average person would love. Everything I hear about the Bolt, reminds me of all the great things Honda had with the Fit EV, minus the range of course. Honda really missed the boat with EV’s. Every day the Bolt is sounding better and better.

I really want to see an SS version of the Bolt.
Really shouldn’t be that hard.

-More powerful motor (or uncork the existing one)
-Slightly stiffer and lower suspension.
-Ridiculous spoiler
-Bigger wheels

And move the motor from the front to the back. That should not be as difficult as in an ICE car.

Exactly! More torque wouldn’t help much because the Bolt’s already traction-limited.

A RWD car with considerable weight over the rear wheels like our BMW i3 results in the best performing 2-wheel-drive design, even on icy roads. Distributing the drive and regen over 4 wheels would be best but at a higher cost. 4 motors, each driving 1 wheel, would eliminate another mechanical part, the differential, and would provide better performance as well.

I believe that all performance EVs will move to an AWD configuration in the near future.

Tesla has 2 motors, one in front and one in back, don’t hear anyone complaining about the performance.
Are 4 motors really going to be that much better? I guess we’ll find out when those cars are available.

I think performance usually is defined by the power thrown at the electric motors. The limiting factor therefore usually is the amount of power the batteries can deliver, and not the motors.

When designing batteries, you have to compromise between power density and power output. Most car manufacturers prefer higher power density (aka more range) over power output, especially since power output is quite good anyway.

On hybrids (with small batteries), power output and number of charging cycles is weighted ahead of power density, because with less total battery capacity, you need higher output per cell, and the cells will typically go through at least one full charge/discharge cycle every time the vehicle is used.

Tesla is able to generate high power output because of the sheer size of the battery – and can therefore focus on power density and still get very good power output.

SS version?
Isn’t that called Tesla Model S? It’s got all the SS features, except for “ridiculous spoiler”. A bit too ricey I think. 🙂

Long distance driving is definitely a compromise with the Bolt’s optional and anemic fast-charge capability.

Otherwise it looks great!

Lots of people never go more than 200 miles away.

Exactly. I have never been more than 200 miles away in my life.

I spent a year at Frostburg State College in Frostburg MD in the mid-1980’s. I met dozens of locals who had never been more than 100 miles from their home town. I knew several that boasted about having driven the 101 miles to Pittsburgh PA.

Oddly enough, I found the same thing in parts of the UK where locals thought my walking 100 miles was amazing, since they hadn’t been more than 50 miles away in years.

Needless to say, that stay at home mentality was VERY common in Eastern Europe, Central America and Asia. Less so in many regions of late.

But if they did they would need more than 1 hour to recharge Bolt so it could make it back home.

This is sort of thing that needs to infect more people. The feeling that it really is better intrinsically to drive an ev.

Then perhaps one day we can say that legally, morally, ethically, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, that the ice, is undeniably and reliably dead.

Yeah yeah. But in fact this has been the case since the LEAF launched back in 2010/11.

Hardly. The Leaf was merely a first step, albeit a halting one. Do you ever even consider the obvious counters to what you say, or do you just blurt out the first thing that pops into your head?
Just wondering. My suspicion is the later. Though when you actually have something to say it is worth reading.

In my opinion the Leaf still makes a good figure when compared to 5-6 years newer EV’s on all areas but one – RANGE.

In my eyes this makes the Leaf a very good, and forward-looking vehicle that has stood it’s ground very well for many years. Now just update the looks and double the range – and the vehicle will still be a good choice for the years to come…

Perhaps the later models have more good press the earlier ones could also be considered a step back for evs. Low resale value due to poor battery cooling, not active, gave the Leaf, and by inclusion most evs, a black eye.

The ICE will never truly die. It will maintain a following as a classic car well into the next century.

If your progressive outlook requires that “all that offendish thyne eye” be removed from the planet, I suspect that you are destined to disappear in the recursive black hole of ultimisim that is at the heart of progressivisim.

Say, I whole lotta questionable spellings in that….

If only they’d make enough of it I’d cancel my Model 3 reservation. But as it is I may as well wait and see, because it’s not at all clear I can get an Ampera-e in 2017. Rumour has it it’s sold out in Norway, even though Opel Norway doesn’t take reservations online – apparently dealerships have been doing that.

In any case, it’s a great step forward. I hope it’s a huge success and that the 2020 plans of “everyone else” are pushed forward as a result.

@Terrawatt

“If only they’d make enough of it I’d cancel my Model 3 reservation.”

You could do both. Especially if you want a low cost M3. It will be awhile to get it.

Totally practical little car. But not for 40 grand. 2300 per month is what this car will sell at that price. on the average. Exactly what GM wants to sell……not too many.

Maybe Nissan doesn’t want to sell too many LEAF either you would get a car that is less than half of the range, 1/3 of the performance for $35k…

Your point is just silly considering the rest of the market…

We just did a two day trip, two hundred miles out, and two hundred back. Even returning on the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway, that was all the driving I want to do in a day. Any further is train or plane distance.

So, it is a great car as we already know.

Now, we need to see demand!

With enough demand, GM corporate leadership would take notice and make more EVs to meet the demand.

GM leadership doesn’t believe in mass EV market yet. We need to show it is true and it isn’t just Tesla who command that demand!

MMF
“With enough demand, GM corporate leadership would take notice and make more EVs to meet the demand.”

I can tell you don’t understand GM management. besides, it won’t happen anyway. It’s priced too high.

I understand that all management love money and sales growth and subject to Wall Street pressure.

If GM can gain market share and grow with cars like Bolt, then they would have to take notice.

GM did its job with the Volt, but it is buyers that failed. They didn’t show up! It never reached the original goal of 45k/year.

Nissan Leaf, butt ugly by most people’s standards. Cost >30k. Sold 100k+? Biggest complaint? Range!
Seriously, I don’t think demand will be a problem. Regardless M3 reservations, there will be plenty of people wanting this 200mi range vehicle EV.

Cutaway views of the Chevy Bolt reveal empty, unused space between the rear wheels.

Chevy must be planning for a dual motor, AWD “Lightning Bolt.”

WTF? You must be kidding. If there’s AWD Bolt and priced $35K post subsidy, that will blow away all gas cars in that price range and well worthy of being SparkEV successor. If they add ability to tow, that would be even better than Tesla 3.

While it still has bowtie and not a “T” as logo, value would be simply too great to pass up. Question is, will they do it?

An AWD Bolt…or Volt SS. Which will come first?

Sadly, none of the above is probably the correct answer. 🙁

A Bolt 75D? 😉

Dual electric motors.
AWD.
75 kWh pack.
150 kW charge rate capability.
sub-5 second 0-60.

Now that would be a car worth paying a little extra for.

FWIW, I actually personally asked Pam Fletcher at the DC Auto Show earlier this year about AWD in the Bolt.

She gave a canned “Anything is possible” answer…take it FWIW.

Bolt Chief Engineer races cars. GM Executive Chief Engineer for Electrified Vehicles Pam Fletcher designed engines for Dale Earnhardt. Two gearheads. Ya think they don’t want to put in as much zip as possible in everything they design? Even an all-electric urban commuter/soccer mom kid hauler?

Good job GM engineering! I hope the public awards your efforts by buying Bolts and loving them.

“Mash the accelerator pedal and the front tires spin helplessly until traction control quickly comes to aid.”

I would say that this qualifies as an extremely negative comment. Lack of traction is not something one wants in a car. This is where a RWD car like Tesla 3 would shine and have a huge competitive advantage.

“Lack of traction is not something one wants in a car. This is where a RWD car like Tesla 3 would shine and have a huge competitive advantage.”

How is that a lack of traction? It just means that drive train is far more powerful than traction allowed possible.

How the traction control behaves can be tuned by SW. Apparently, Gen 1 Volt was tuned to be no spinning whatsever and some owners don’t like it because they feel like they can’t spin tires to show off.

Now that Bolt is tuned to allow that. You aren’t happy still. Maybe don’t mash the pedals so hard then…

The tracktion is influenced by the underlying physical bahaviour of the vehicle when accelerating. It might be easier to explain this by using a motorcycle or a dragster vehicle as examples, since they have *A LOT* of power vs the vehicle weight: 1. When performing a high level of acceleration, the weight (pressure from vehicle to ground) is transferred heavily towards the back wheel(s). On a motorsycle this might even result in the front wheel lifting off the ground. A dragster vehicle are extremely long-nosed to prevent the nose from lifting – utilising the lever principle. 2. The other way around, when braking heavily on a motorcycle – the *BACK* wheel might lift up from the ground and result in cartwheeling. This is because almost all of the pressure from the vehicle to the ground is now on the front wheel. Therefore, it is always advantageous for a vehicle to be a RWD vs a FWD when accelerating. Of course AWD/4WD is even better, but not relatively as much better as the difference between FWD/RWD. For ordinary low-power cars this usually is not much of a problem, but as applied power increases the problem gets worse. The Bolt looks to… Read more »

Engineering Explained has excellent videos showing the limits of FWD and RWD. If you go by the example given, which is 50/50 weight distribution, shortish wheel base, lowish center of mass, FWD acceleration would top out at about 0.4g while RWD would top out at over 0.6g.

How To Launch A FWD Car – Design Considerations

How To Launch A RWD Car – Design Considerations

Interestingly, SparkEV tops out bit over 0.4g up to 30 MPH (about 3 seconds, similar to Bolt; see my blog). Bolt takes about 3.5 sec for 30-60, which means acceleration is still about 0.4g all the way to 60. I suspect Bolt is tuned for almost best 0-60 performance for FWD car without using exotic sticky tires.

As such, Bolt is not really “traction limited” for best 0-60 time. That also means any little bump or pebble on the road could trigger traction control all the way to 60 MPH.

“Therefore, it is always advantageous for a vehicle to be a RWD vs a FWD when accelerating.”

Sounds like you haven’t driven in the snow much. A FWD is much better to keep from spinning out of control. 😉

And sounds like you have not driven a good RWD car with good winter tires in snow. My BMW 550i with its smooth torquey V-8, the manual gearbox that allows exceptional control, the excellent suspension design that allows the use of all available traction of the terrific Nokia winter tires is by far my favorite vehicle to drive in snow. I have owned many AWD cars and the RWD 550i is so much better than any of them. Granted, my FWD SAABs were amazing in snow, too. The RWD BMW beats them all, though. Precision control of available traction is what it is all about.

“Precision control of available traction is what it is all about.”

I agree. Honestly, the FWD Volt with snow tires is like a tank to me. Its precise traction control is amazing, which sounds similar in experience to your 550.

Actually, I usually disable traction control in snow/ice. I keep ESP on, of course.

Glad to hear that the Volt is good in snow.

Interesting. Yeah, with the Volt, I can literally floor the accelerator on an ice/snow/slushy roadway, and it just “figures it out” without spinning. The precision that electric motors have in that sort of scenario, along with the impressive traction control functionality, really are pretty amazing.

Many years ago I had a Subaru with 68 hp 3 cylinder engine. I could effortlessly spin the front tires by dumping the clutch in first gear. I could do the one wheel burnout all day every day. Low traction is not something one should brag about. With so much torque of course the Bolt can spin its wheels. It would be able to do that with 1/3 the torque because it is traction limited by its LRR tires and its front wheel drive.

“I could effortlessly spin the front tires by dumping the clutch in first gear. I could do the one wheel burnout all day every day. Low traction is not something one should brag about.”

Sounds like the problem is someone who can’t drive..

What was your first gear ratio? Dumping the clutch in first gear means you put too much torque into the tires that can’t handle it.

Your old Subaru probably got skinny tires as well.

What do you expect from a FWD car like the Bolt? FWD cars are always power limited due to the amount of grip the FWD can handle.

But saying that it is low traction is just silly since you are putting more torque to the tires than it can handle.

Even the RWD Dodge Viper can spin out of control in the first gear due to too much torque for its tires. Is that a low traction event or bad driving?

well, to be fair, the LRR tires are not known to have great traction. So you can’t compare the performance tires on a Tesla to a LRR tire on a Bolt.

If range is not your problem, put some decent tires on the Bolt and you’ll probably get less tire spin.

All the comments to date from the professionals just show the BOLT to be a supremely well-engineered car from both an engineering and interior design perspective.

The gist of the comments seem to indicate that the car is even nicer in practice than the very impressive specifications indicate.

The car is not the fastest, nor the biggest, nor AWD, but for what it is, a hugely inexpensive (for a BEV) fine product that people will WANT regardless of the fact that it just happens to be totally electric.

Some people here: hehe eat your heart out.

“…hugely inexpensive…” for an EV. True enough, and in today’s EV world it looks to be a fantastic vale. But it is still an expensive car for many people. That’s OK, the prices will come down, eventually. And for those who don’t mind a well kept used car, this might be perfect in 2 years.

Haha, well said Bill!! 🙂

You’d have said the same, just luck of the draw I beat you to it.

I have to admit I really like the ELR. DonC and Loboc over at GM-Volt got screaming deals on theirs.

Two cons of the Bolt that prevent me from getting excited about it: no autonomous features (not even radar cruise) and limited (worldwide) availability.

So, GM rolls out a very good, decent albeit basic EV on time, but leaves some room for improvement (AWD, automation, gull wing doors…) down the road. Model 3 engineers take note! Good job GM!

Tesla is aiming at a moving target. When the Model 3 does eventually come out, it’d be foolish to think GM has nothing left to add to the Bolt for MY2018/2019, etc…

Dealers are taking orders for the allotment of Bolts that they have been given.
Get one before they are all gone.

No hurry. It will be this time next year before we see one in the Old Dominion.

That’s the main thing that comforts me that I couldn’t wait and have been driving my Volt for three months already. There would have been some pride in being able to drive all-EV 99.99% of my driving rather my the 95% of my Volt. ;=)

Bigger car than I really want. Wish it had manual windows, door locks, etc. But probably the smallest, most basic, 200 mile range car we will ever see. It’s all downhill from here.

These days, electronic windows are probably just as cheap if not cheaper than manual windows.

Oil is cheap too. Cheap can hide a lot of waste and abuse.

Great job, GM!

“So, it’s an excellent car, not just excellent because its electric, or excellent for an electric car. It’s excellent regardless of any of that.”

“Eerily silent, surprisingly roomy, downright quick, and without compromise — that’s how I’d sum up my driving impressions about the all-new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt”

Those two are in direct conflict to each other. It is silent, quick and roomy mostly because it is electric!