While spending the week in Los Angeles to cover the auto show (and other events), I drove a Chevrolet Bolt. With all of the headlines being usurped by GM’s surprising cuts, the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt’s future still seems bright – and that’s a good thing. Why? Because it’s a brilliant little car, one that proves that it’s a viable transportation alternative.
The 60 kWh Lithium-ion battery gives the Chevrolet Bolt 200 horsepower 266 lbs-torque (at zero RPM…great for takeoffs) and it weighs a little over 3,500 lbs. This combination gives you outstanding in-city performance; 0 to 60 mph in 6.5-seconds, regardless of your elevation or outside temperature.
Using the 7.2 kW on-board charger
I used EVgo and ChargePoint chargers in Los Angeles, Ventura/Camarillo and Orange County. While the charging infrastructure is indeed growing, it’s still a bit of a bother finding chargers. On more than one occasion, chargers were out-of-order or nonexistent.
Most of the chargers I used were Level 2 (240-volt) and a few hours time usually topped me off. After a fairly long, 180-mile drive, I parked in a paid parking area (10 bucks) and got free Level 2 charging. Between a bit of shopping, dinner and a stroll through Little Tokyo, I was nearly full with up to 200 miles available.
ChargePoint’s overall setup works well; however, I was never able to locate anything faster than a Class 2 charger. I know DC Fast Charging is available in a few places, but I couldn’t locate a single one during the week I stayed in Southern California.
One of the issues with the 2019 Chevrolet Bolt is when you hop into a regular gas car and realize that the off-the-line and passing power isn’t there. Other than a turbocharged, performance hatchback, you will have a hard time matching the Chevy Bolt’s power in a small car. It rips.
Cornering is a tad squishy, but traction is quite good. You lean a bit, but you get used to the feeling and powering out of a corner is a breeze. On road ride for a small car is top-notch. The squish you feel when steering hard is part of a well balanced suspension setup that’s surprisingly smooth on the highway.
Brakes are very strong and, if you shift into “L” you can pretty much drive the Bolt all day simply using the L’s aggressive recharging. Accelerate like normal, but when you lift off the accelerator, it slows rapidly. It takes a bit to get used to; however, using this mode will give you the best range and it makes city driving a hoot. It’s like driving an Autopia car at Disneyland, with a lot more power.
While the front seats are totally adequate and front space for tall folk is good, the back seats are a bit tight. If you fold the rear seats, you get a decent 56.6 cubic feet of space. With the rear seats up, you get a small-ish 16.9 cu-ft of space. There is more room under the rear floor that’s used for storing the 7.2 kW high-voltage on-board charger and cord. There’s a little bit of extra space in that compartment.
By the way, I have grown to love General Motors rear camera mirror. It should be mandatory on all vehicles.
While I love this car, there are a few issues. My biggest gripe is the hard, cheap-feeling plastics used throughout. I know they need to save money to keep its $36,620 base price, (which drops quite a bit with current government incentives – for now) but places where skin meets plastic are, for the most part, uncomfortable.
It’s a tight fit for five. Four full size adults inside is a squeeze if they are tall.
New for 2019
Not much to report on new goodies for 2019. There are new colors, a revised charge-termination feature, new HVAC location and a tire fill alert (beeps when it’s full).
I have no idea why people insist on comparing the 2019 Chevrolet Bolt to a Tesla Model 3. The current Tesla Model 3 is more Audi-ish than econobox, especially on price. However, if Tesla ever releases its cheaper version of the Model 3, then they could be compared.
The new Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Kona Electric, Hyundai Ioniq Electric and next-generation Kia Soul EV are much more comparable. For now, the 2019 Chevrolet Bolt is still one of my top picks.
All in all, I was delighted with the 2019 Chevrolet Bolt during my Los Angeles visit. It shows me a future I can look forward to — and so can you.
Speaking of electric cars…