Life With the Chevrolet Bolt EV: What Do Owners Really Think? | News


2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV | illustration by Paul Dolan

All eyes are on electrification as U.S. automakers plan for the future, but some car owners aren’t willing to wait for the future to leave gas stations in the dust. The Chevrolet Bolt EV, introduced in 2017, is still one of the bestselling electric vehicles on the market, even among new entrants like the Volkswagen ID.4 and Ford Mustang Mach-E. The Bolt EV only trails the Tesla Model Y and Model 3 in units sold so far in 2021, though it’s a distant third place. With a starting price that undercuts the Model 3 by nearly $10,000, the Chevy Bolt offers a more affordable alternative for EV shoppers.

Related: 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV: Bow-Tie EVs, Now In Two Sizes

While GM is busy planning future vehicles like the GMC Hummer EV, the automaker hasn’t forgotten about its original battery-powered car. For 2022, Chevy is giving the Bolt EV a significant refresh and adding a new, larger Bolt EUV sibling. What does daily life with the Bolt really look like? We dug through user reviews of the current generation Bolt EV (2017-present) to find out what owners like and dislike most about their vehicles.

chevrolet-bolt-euv-2022-oem-02-angle--exterior--rear--silver-.jpg2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV | Manufacturer photo

What’s New for 2022?

The Bolt EV debuted in 2017 as Chevrolet’s first all-electric vehicle. The present-day Bolt is a front-wheel-drive hatchback powered by a single-motor electric drive unit and a 65-kilowatt-hour battery with an EPA-estimated 259-mile range. The Bolt produces 200 horsepower, 266 pounds-feet of torque and accelerates from 0-60 mph in an estimated 6.5 seconds.

Although the federal EV tax credits for the model have expired, the 2022 Bolt EV’s starting price falls to $31,995 (including destination), which is a price cut of approximately $5,000. Standard features include a 10.2-inch touchscreen multimedia system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, wireless charging and a Bose premium stereo system are all optional.

Chevy Safety Assist, a suite of advanced driving-assistance systems, comes standard in the 2022 Bolt EV and includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning and a following distance indicator. Rear cross-traffic alert, a surround-view camera system and adaptive cruise control are also available.

In addition to adding the Bolt EUV to the lineup, Chevy gave the Bolt EV an interior makeover for 2022. The cabin quality was one of the pain points for vehicle owners based on user reviews. Now, the cabin is upgraded with a more upscale appearance thanks to soft-touch materials and new seats. The uncomfortable seats in the outgoing Bolt EV were another common complaint among owners, and it appears the automaker took notice.

17Chevy_Bolt_JW_08.jpg2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV | photo by Joe Wiesenfelder

Bolt EV Raves and Rants

Based on user reviews, Bolt EV owners enjoy its quick acceleration and agile handling, generous range and one-pedal driving (otherwise known as regenerative braking). Many owners are also pleased with the Bolt’s value, especially when compared against the Tesla Model 3.

Common complaints include the Bolt EV’s uncomfortable seats, low-rent interior, and a lower-than-expected range. The range was a source of disagreement among Bolt owners, as some claimed that it is more than sufficient for their needs. Below are the top pros (boasts) and cons (beefs) found among users. (Comments have been edited for clarity.)

chevrolet-bolt-EV-2020-2-angle--dynamic--exterior--rear--red.jpg2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV | Manufacturer image

Rave: Quick Acceleration and Agile Handling

A common thread among user reviews is the Bolt EV’s fun driving experience thanks to quick acceleration and solid handling. Our expert review on the Bolt’s performance was in lockstep with this feedback. We found that the car is quick off the line, and has ample power for passing at highway speeds.

  • “The Chevy Bolt is well designed outside and inside and handles as well as any car I’ve owned, including Mercedes. The range is excellent, and the ride is comfortable and roomy all around. Even if this wasn’t an EV, I’d be happy to drive it.” — consumer review for 2018 Bolt EV; Granite Bay, Calif.
  • “The majority of my driving occurs in town. Commuting to work, running errands, going to a local restaurant — not much chance to hit the open road. I really enjoy the torque from the Bolt’s electric motor — not many cars can keep up with it off the line. The Bolt handles great due to its low center of gravity. I typically put 40 to 50 miles on the car per day. With overnight recharge with a standard 110-volt cable, I never worry about hitting the 250-mile limit. If you have a regular internal combustion-engined car to handle longer trips, I can’t say enough good things about the Bolt fulfilling your in-town needs.” — 2019 Bolt EV; Orange, N.H.
  • “I love this Bolt EV. It drives like a sports car. Handles better than any car I have ever driven. Yes, they could have spent a little more on carpet, etc., but I absolutely love the quietness and the way it drives.” — 2020 Bolt EV; Grayslake, Ill.
  • “This is an amazing car. Fun to drive and excellent handling. No issues with the battery range covering the state from one end to the other. It is comfortable and quiet. The one-pedal driving is a piece of cake and gets you over the rated range. The acceleration is fantastic — 0-60 in 6 seconds. Chevrolet hit this one out of the park. — 2019 Bolt EV; Orange, N.H.
17Chevrolet_Bolt_OEM_16.jpg2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV | Manufacturer image

Rave: It’s Bigger Than It Looks

Although the Bolt EV is a compact hatchback, user reviews boast that it’s not stingy in passenger and cargo space. Many comments point to the EV’s airy cabin that accommodates taller passengers in the front or backseat. In our expert evaluation of the vehicle, we were surprised to find that the EV is family-friendly with its ability to fit two child seats.

  • “We now have three friends with Bolts. It is a great electric car for the money. 250 miles per charge. Plenty of leg and headroom for my 6-foot-3-inch husband. We leased one for three years and loved it so much, just bought a new one.” — 2021 Bolt EV; San Diego
  • “This car is roomier than I expected, especially for legroom in the front and back. Acceleration and handling are also above expectations. I really like the regen braking feature — it definitely extends the range. The only drawback is the slow charging with the 110-volt included cord. Only 4 miles per hour of charging, and over 48 hours for a full charge from 60 miles charge remaining. Also, no cupholders for backseat passengers.” — 2018 Bolt EV; Cathedral City, Calif.
  • “This is my second Chevy Bolt. I leased the first one for three years, then bought a new one. The 2020 model has not changed significantly since it was introduced. It is all-electric and very solid. Interior is quite roomy (I am tall and have trouble fitting in many cars).” — 2020 Bolt EV; La Canada, Calif.
  • “Great performance, great range, great features, roomy, comfortable and fun. It feels like a crossover SUV on the inside but is only the size of a hatchback on the outside. Best of both worlds!” — 2019 Bolt EV; St. Paul, Minn.

Rave: One-Pedal Driving

The Bolt EV offers a feature called one-pedal driving that captures energy from deceleration to send power back to the battery pack and improve range. This regenerative braking function allows the driver to stop the vehicle without using the brake pedal. After testing the system in the 2018 Bolt EV, we found it to be less user-friendly than a similar feature offered in the Nissan Leaf. users like the Bolt’s one-pedal driving experience, however, and the reduced brake maintenance costs.

  • “Liking the Bolt so far. It speeds up quite a bit faster than I was expecting. I’m quite surprised by how much the regenerative braking seems to recharge the batteries.” — 2021 Bolt EV; North Hollywood, Calif.
  • “Fun to drive. Love the regen mode — I almost never touch my brakes. Very reliable, comfortable, and has a great-sounding stereo. I have had the car for two years and highly recommend it!” — 2021 Bolt EV; New York
  • “This is my first EV (and my first Chevy car) and I really enjoy driving it. Driving is no longer a boring task and makes me feel like I live in the future. The regen is great – I managed to only use the brake at most five times in the first month of driving this car.” — 2017 Bolt EV
  • “This is our second Chevy Bolt EV. Quiet, quick, and no maintenance! No more trips to the gas station, except to adjust the tire pressure. We save on gas, maintenance and time. We charge the battery overnight, so every day the ‘tank’ is full. No oil changes, no transmission service, and the brakes last longer because of the Bolt’s excellent regenerative braking. Tire rotation and cabin filter change is the only maintenance.” — 2020 Bolt EV; Oakland, Calif.
17Chevy_Bolt_JW_07.jpg2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV | photo by Joe Wiesenfelder

Rave: Frugal Alternative to the Tesla Model 3

When it comes to getting the most bang for the buck, many users claim the Bolt EV is a smarter choice than its premium rival, the Tesla Model 3; a reminder, though, that federal tax credits mentioned below are no longer available on either the Bolt EV or Model 3. While the 2022 Bolt’s starting price falls well below the entry-level Tesla’s $41,190 starting price, including destination, the Model 3 offers more options for easing range anxiety along with all-wheel-drive capability. The Standard Range Plus Model 3 has an EPA-rated range of 263 miles that’s comparable to the Bolt’s 259 miles, but Tesla shoppers can get up to a 353-mile range from the Long Range variant. The Bolt also lacks the AWD option found in the Model 3 Long Range and Performance trims.

  • “I’ve been in a Tesla 3 (the Bolt’s main competitor) and I strongly preferred the Bolt. It feels more like a car with its dashboard, window and door controls, knobs for air conditioning, etc. The Tesla just has a single screen. Everything gets done from the screen — it just felt weird to me. The Bolt gets great range but doesn’t have Tesla’s long-promised self-driving feature. On the other hand, the fully loaded Bolt is about $42K, while the fully loaded Tesla is over $52K.” — 2019 Bolt EV; LaPine, Ore.
  • “We traded our 2017 Chevrolet Volt for a 2019 Bolt. We were seriously thinking of a Tesla Model 3 but decided to give the Bolt a test drive before purchasing the Tesla. Tesla makes a nice car, but with all of the rebates and dealer discounts, along with a $3,750 federal tax rebate, we decided the Tesla was not worth at least $10,000 more.” — 2019 Bolt EV; LaPine, Ore.
  • “I was in the market for a Tesla, but when the near $20,000 in rebates came in and I could get a $44,000 car for a little over $25K, I was sold (not to mention tax credits). I’m still learning about the ‘distance remaining’ portion of an EV. One must remember that this is an average, and therefore, it may take 20 miles (displayed) to go 15 or 15 miles (displayed) to go 20. The 260-mile range is a little optimistic, given that AC or heat reduces this distance, driving at night (headlights) reduces the distance, the faster you go, the shorter the distance. However, it does have quick pick up for this size of car.” — 2020 Bolt EV; Little Rock, Ark.
17Chevrolet_Bolt_OEM_11.jpg2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV | Manufacturer image

Rant: Uncomfortable Seats and a Lackluster Interior

Seat comfort and interior quality are common complaints among Bolt EV owners. Although both attributes are subjective, our expert review mirrored these sentiments. Chevy intentionally designed the seats to be thin in order to save space inside the cabin, but we found them to be too hard with uncomfortable bolstering.

  • “The driver’s seat is a bit too narrow for me; it is cramped like an airline seat. The center console is too far back, making it hard for the driver to access. Two small cup holders and a lot of wasted space in front of the center console. Performance-wise, the Bolt is a rocket. Very smooth acceleration and excellent visibility. It looks very nice from the outside. Overall I really like it, however, it is a bit uncomfortable for anything over 100 miles.” — 2018 Bolt EV; Fresno, Calif.
  • “The Bolt EV is the most fun and reliable car I have driven. The seats aren’t as comfortable as one would expect for an almost $40,000 car, and the interior is similarly not as upscale as it could be, but the functionality more than makes up for those things. I don’t commute very far and am able to use trickle charge at home with no range anxiety.” — 2019 Bolt EV; La Crosse, Wis.
  • “Good performance but lots of road and wind noise and a jittery ride. You will feel every bump on the road. The seat is one to two inches too small in every dimension.” — 2020 Bolt EV; Gaithersburg, Md.
  • “Amazing car. Fast, no gas, great tech, quiet, luxurious at the Premier level, and roomy. The only things I’d improve on are the seats and the cargo space, which is a bit disappointing.” — 2020 Bolt EV; Sacramento, Calif.
17Chevy_Bolt_JW_03.jpg2017 Chevrolet Bolt | photo by Joe Wiesenfelder

Rant: Range Does Not Live Up to Expectations

The Bolt EV’s range can be classified as either a rant or rave, depending on who you ask. Despite a number of comments claiming that the range is better than expected, some Bolt owners are disappointed by the discrepancy in the expected range and the observed mileage. Since 2017, the Bolt’s range estimate has increased from 238 miles to 259 miles; most of the complaints concerning the range came from earlier model years. It’s important to note that an EV’s range varies based on driving style, terrain and temperature, among other factors.

  • “The mileage claims are exaggerated. I am consistently getting only 170 miles on the freeway (in California). I really wanted to like the Bolt, but there are just too many quality and performance issues.” — 2019 Bolt EV; San Jose, Calif.
  • “Chevy claims that the Bolt can charge approximately 40% in 30 minutes — not even close. It takes an hour and over two hours on a fast charger to charge fully. Also, the range has consistently been 75% of the claimed range. True, it’s winter, but I live in a pretty moderate climate (Pacific NW). Since I can’t charge at home, this car has been a nightmare. There is only one public charger that charges by kwh in my city. Paying by the minute with such a slow charge would be extremely expensive.” — 2019 Bolt EV; Seattle
  • “I have owned this vehicle for six months and the range started to degrade from a 250-mile range to a 170-mile range when at 95%.” — 2017 Bolt EV; Fort Worth, Texas

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