A familiar friend gets a bit better.

When the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV entered the scene in December of 2016 there weren't any EVs in its class that offered even close to the Bolt's 238 miles of range. In fact, there weren't any EVs from any manufacturer in any class other than the Tesla Model S and Model X that could best the Bolt's all-electric range. 

The "affordable" Tesla Model 3 was still a year away from any significant customer deliveries and Chevy really put the pressure on the competition with a long-range EV priced comfortably under $40,000.

Then came the Model 3, the Hyundai Kona Electric, the Kia Niro EV and suddenly the Bolt's range was sitting in 4th place, for sub-$40,000 electric vehicles. We assume that didn't sit well with GM, so they figured out how they could get back on top without a drastic Bolt refresh, which isn't due for another year or two. 

The 2020 Bolt is back on top of the class in EV range
The 2020 Bolt is back on top of the class in EV range

“The Chevrolet Bolt EV has been changing consumer perceptions of electric vehicles since its launch in 2016,” said Steve Majoros, director of Chevrolet Passenger Car and Crossover Marketing. “Great range — now even more — is the foundation of the Bolt EV’s success, and when paired with features like one-pedal driving, Regen on Demand and the instant torque of the EV motor, the vehicle delivers an exceptional driving experience. Chevrolet also is helping to encourage EV adoption by providing customers the necessary tools and services to make EV ownership more convenient.”

Chevrolet's battery engineering team improved the energy of the cell electrodes by making changes to the cell chemistry. The new cells look exactly the same as the old ones and have the same dimensions. The 2020 Bolt's battery pack has the same number of cells, 288, as before, they are just more energy-dense. The improvements result in an additional 6 kWh of energy, increasing the Bolt's battery pack to 66 kWh, up from 60 kWh. 

2020 Bolt EV charge rate

That additional 6 kWh is enough to push the Bolt EV's EPA rated range up 21 miles to 259, just slightly beating the Hyundai Kona EV by a single mile, to regain the in-class range crown it had previously held. 

Gallery: 2020 Chevrolet Bolt

Additionally, Chevrolet informed us that the Bolt can now charge faster on a DC fast charger under different ambient temperatures. The top charge rate the Bolt can accept is still 55kW, which is a little disappointing, but the charging profile has been improved. The Bolt can now accept full power for a longer period of time, especially under challenging temperatures. Chevrolet is claiming that, for the first 30 minutes, the 2020 Bolt EV can now charge at up to 150% faster in cold temperatures than it was previously capable of. 

2020 Chevy Bolt EV

The cold weather DC fast charging performance was a pain point for many current Bolt EV owners. So much so that we covered the Bolt's cold weather charging problem earlier this year. 

While the improved range and charging profile are the biggest news for 2020 model year, it's not all the upgrades the Bolt EV gets. There are two new color options; Oasis Blue and Cayanne Orange Metallic. I was able to snag one of the two Oasis Blue Bolt EVs available for the media drive last week, as you can see from the pictures we have here. 

2020 Chevy Bolt EV front grille
2020 Chevy Bolt EV front grille

Chevrolet also slightly redesigned the plastic front grilles. I couldn't tell the difference myself, so I had to get one of the reps to show me exactly what was changed. In previous model years, the black plastic grilles were smooth and had a faint design (sticker?) that could be seen if you were close to the vehicle. In 2020, the plastic is no longer smooth, it now has ridges to create the desired design effect. 

The 2020 Bolt EV also gets a new pedestrian alert system, which emits an artificial noise at speeds under 20 mph. The new system adds rear speakers, so there are now speakers in front and rear of the vehicle. The system employed in the 2019 Bolt only had a speaker in the front of the vehicle. 

2020 Chevy Bolt EV's HD rear camera system is an improvement over the previous system
2020 Chevy Bolt EV's HD rear camera system is an improvement over the previous system

On the inside, the Bolt EV now has HD Rear Vision and HD Surround Vision Cameras and they are definitely an upgrade over the previous camera system. There's also a new, wider full-display rearview mirror/camera. All of these systems are now crystal clear and very useful when parking or getting into or out of tight situations. The full-display rearview camera gives a wide view of road behind your vehicle, and the camera is extremely clear. I only wish it also recorded, as well.  

There's also a new Energy Assistant feature in the My Chevrolet app. 

New features allow owners to:
– Locate charging stations

– Plan trips using vehicle state of charge, real-time weather, recent driving behavior, etc.

Driving Impressions

I don't think we need to delve into the driving characteristics of the 2020 Bolt EV. It drives the same as it has since its introduction. None of the changes made to the 2020 Bolt effect the driving characteristics, so it's really the same Bolt EV we've reported on many times before. That said, I will reiterate my love for the Bolt EV's regenerative braking system. The Drive/Low modes combined with the regen-on-demand paddle on the steering wheel give the Bolt EV the best regenerative braking system in the industry, in my opinion. If anyone has any questions about the Bolt's driving experience, please post them in the comment section below and I'll try to answer them all. 

Swing and a miss?

Three years ago Chevrolet rocked the EV world when they brought the Bolt EV to market and gave us the first affordable long-range electric vehicle. I've always thought the Bolt EV hasn't quite gotten the credit it deserves. It's certainly not perfect, but overall it's a pretty good all-around car. That said, I was really hoping to see a couple of improvements that I believe would help generate more interest in the Bolt. Sadly, we didn't get any of them. 

2020 Chevy Bolt EV

Higher DC fast charge rate

Yes, Chevrolet did massage the Bolt's DC fast charging profile and improve the speed in cold and hot charging conditions. However, the overall charge rate is still restricted to 55 kW. That's a lower rate than most of the competition and with new high-speed DC fast charge stations coming online practically every day now, it's a shame the Bolt EV cant take advantage of them. A 66 kWh battery should be able to accept at least 75 kW, if not 100 kW, making a recharge to 80% less than 30 minutes. 

chevrolet bolt interior dash seating

Dress up the dashboard a bit

This might be more of a personal preference, but I just never got used to the white plastic dash on the Bolt. It reminds me of the counter surfaces used in airport bathrooms. That's plus the faux chrome trim separating the white surface from the black parts. I get that it's not a high-end vehicle, but I'd really prefer if Chevrolet made an all-black dash option available, and I think others would also.

Finally, those seats

Once I realized the 2020 Bolt has the same seats as previous years, I had to ask why that was. I was told, and I know some owners have reported this, that a few years ago Chevy did "improve" the seats. I don't see it. A few years ago I had a long term Bolt loaner from GM and at the time I was really considering getting one, if only it wasn't for those seats. I know seating comfort is subjective, but enough reviewers and owners have complained about the Bolt's seats for GM to have gotten the hint, however, it seems they haven't. To be fair, I have spoken with Bolt owners that say the seats aren't a problem for them. So check them out yourself and form your own opinion if you're shopping for an EV. 

2020 Chevy Bolt EV

Final Thoughts

The 2020 Bolt EV isn't a full model refresh, that won't happen for another year or two. Therefore, there is hope that Chevrolet will soon improve the Bolt's DC fast charge rate, makes some much-needed interior refinements and throws those darn front seats into a fiery inferno. 

Until then, the Bolt EV is still a great choice. It has more range than any EV that doesn't come from Freemont, Ca, it's fast and fun to drive (0-60 in 6.5 seconds), and with a starting MSRP of $37,495, it's very reasonably priced. However, it's important to note that GM is well into the phaseout period of the federal tax credit for electric vehicles. 

The Bolt EV still qualifies for a $1,875 tax credit, and will so until March 31st, 2020. The good news for buyers is, that since the tax credit began phasing out, GM had been proactively discounting the Bolt EV, offering factory to dealer incentives and making sure the Bolt doesn't lose customers to comparable EVs, like the Kona Electric, simply because one has the full tax credit, and the Bolt doesn't.  

If you can snag a 2020 Bolt EV for a good deal, it's definitely worth considering. Just make sure you take it for a nice extended test drive first and make sure you don't find those seats as uncomfortable as I do. 

Hide press releaseShow press release

Chevrolet Raises the Bar: 2020 Bolt EV to Offer Impressive 259 miles of Range


Detroit — The game-changing Chevrolet Bolt EV will now take customers even farther. Starting with model year 2020, the Bolt EV will offer a remarkable EPA-estimated 259 miles of range on a full charge1, a 21-mile increase over previous model years. The Chevrolet Bolt EV’s winning combination of long-range and affordability continues to attract new customers to the electric vehicle segment, and the 2020 Bolt EV will appeal to even more customers by allowing them to travel farther between charging sessions.


“The Bolt EV set the benchmark for long-range, affordable electric vehicles, and we’re excited to raise the bar by offering nearly 10 percent more EPA-estimated range for the 2020 model year,” said Tim Grewe, director of Global Battery Cell Engineering and Strategy. “At Chevrolet, we’re constantly listening to customer feedback and we heard the desire for more range. The team worked diligently to find ways to improve battery energy, giving customers the confidence to go more than the extra mile.”


To achieve this notable range increase, Chevrolet’s battery engineering team improved the energy of the cell electrodes by making small but impactful changes to the cell chemistry. This innovative thinking allowed the team to implement the range increase without needing to change the physical battery pack and the way it is integrated into the vehicle structure.


“The Chevrolet Bolt EV has been changing consumer perceptions of electric vehicles since its launch in 2016,” said Steve Majoros, director of Chevrolet Passenger Car and Crossover Marketing. “Great range — now even more — is the foundation of the Bolt EV’s success, and when paired with features like one-pedal driving, Regen on Demand and the instant torque of the EV motor, the vehicle delivers an exceptional driving experience. Chevrolet also is helping to encourage EV adoption by providing customers the necessary tools and services to make EV ownership more convenient.”


Currently, original purchasers of new Bolt EVs have access to Chevrolet’s exclusive Energy Assist feature through the myChevrolet mobile app2. Energy Assist allows customers to view and search for charging stations, plan a trip with multiple waypoints and charging stops, monitor their route, and receive alerts if their destination becomes unreachable. Last year, the myChevrolet mobile app2 was updated to enable smartphone projection of the Energy Assist feature to the vehicle’s infotainment system via Apple CarPlay3 and Android Auto4 for drivers with model year 2017 or newer Bolt EVs.


Chevrolet recently announced a partnership with Qmerit that will enable EV owners a seamless way to find and obtain quotes from certified electricians to install at-home charging equipment.


Chevrolet is the first non-luxury car brand to offer this service, and its partnership with Qmerit will provide customers with a more accessible at-home charging solution.


The 2020 Bolt EV will arrive in dealerships later this year with a starting MSRP of $37,495 (including destination and freight charges, excludes tax, title, license, dealer fees). Additional updates include two new exterior colors: Cayenne Orange Metallic (additional cost option) and Oasis Blue.