Chevrolet’s far-roaming Bolt EV hit the bottom operating when it debuted in 2016 with a class-leading 238 miles of EPA estimated vary. In a world the place its greatest opponents included the 150-mile Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Ioniq on one aspect and the far more costly Tesla Mannequin S on the opposite, the Bolt shone brightly and uniquely within the candy spot of high-tech and low-priced.

Two years later, the Bolt nonetheless shines, solely now, it faces stiff competitors from all instructions as the remainder of the electrical automotive trade catches up. Kia, Hyundai and, after all, Tesla have all both debuted or introduced inexpensive 200-mile electrical vehicles with extra on the radar. How does the Chevy stack up within the face of this new opposition? Let’s revisit the 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV to seek out out.

Huge-batteried Bolt

The guts of a conventional automotive is the engine, but it surely’s all in regards to the battery while you’re speaking EVs. The Bolt’s battery is a 960-pound, 60-kWh lithium-ion pack situated within the flooring beneath the seats. This configuration offers the Bolt its elevated seating place; the hatchback’s passengers sit a couple of head taller than they’d in, say, a Chevy Spark. Due to this, Chevy feels it is okay to name the Bolt a crossover. Undecided I agree.

The EV crams electrical energy into that battery pack through a 7.2-kW onboard charger that, when linked to a 240-volt residence or public charging station, provides about 25 miles of vary per hour on the plug. So, from flat, the Bolt takes a most of 10 hours to cost. (You may additionally plug the Bolt into a normal 120-volt wall outlet however, with an especially sluggish charging fee of about four miles per hour on the plug, you’d solely try this if you did not have another choice.)

For those who’re in a rush, an non-obligatory DC Combo Quick Charging system can quickly juice up the battery to 90 miles of vary in simply 30 minutes. (After that preliminary enhance, DC Quick chargers revert to the slower normal charging pace.) With 238 miles of vary to work with, I by no means ran right into a state of affairs the place I wanted an emergency fast-charge, however I might nonetheless advocate this $750 possibility because it provides plenty of comfort and adaptability for very lengthy journeys.

All these kilowatt-hours of electrical energy the Bolt shops are used to energy its electrical motor, a 200-horsepower unit that sends as much as 266 pound-feet of torque to the entrance wheels through a single-speed discount gear. That a lot instantaneous torque in a automotive this measurement offers the Bolt very responsive efficiency at low speeds and a peppy around-town really feel. Ground it, and the three,580-pound hatchback will do an eerily silent, sub-7-second dash to 60 miles per hour. In fact, that is not the way you need to drive to achieve the total 238-mile vary at an EPA-estimated 119 mpge.

Chevy gives an non-obligatory DC fast-charging setup that’ll get you 90 miles of vary in simply 30 minutes.

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Regen on demand

Like each fashionable electrified automotive, the Bolt makes use of regenerative braking to recapture power when decelerating to maximise its vary. To maximise the power recaptured, the Bolt has fairly neat characteristic: a “regen on demand” paddle on the steering wheel. Pulling this paddle shifter triggers most regenerative braking, slowing the EV considerably, as if you happen to’d pressed the brake pedal. The brake lights even illuminate if the deceleration from regen is robust sufficient.

The regen paddle is an effective way to be sure to get as near the Bolt’s optimum vary as attainable however, in apply, it isn’t an excellent strategy to drive. Pulling the paddle is an all-or-nothing affair; there is no strategy to modulate or clean out the regenerative braking strain. I discovered this made for jerky deceleration as I tried to feather the brakes by tapping the paddle. On prime of that, the quantity of deceleration you get from the paddle varies relying on the battery’s cost state, which makes getting used to the already unnatural-feeling paddle even weirder.

I ended up primarily defaulting to only utilizing the trusty foot pedals, preferring the Bolt’s hidden “one-pedal driving” mode. Pull the shifter previous D into L, and the Bolt’s accelerator begins to function just like the Nissan Leaf’s e-pedal, giving robust regeneration when the motive force lifts a foot from the accelerator. On this mode, it is attainable to drive with out ever touching the friction brake pedal, maximizing vary and management. This technique is far smoother, extra natural-feeling and simpler to modulate than pulling the paddle.

Chevrolet ought to draw consideration to or label this mode higher, which might simply be neglected by house owners. I might a minimum of like the choice to set “one-pedal mode” because the default.

Due to its excessive seating place, Chevy classifies the Bolt as a crossover.

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MyLink smartphone-powered tech

Entrance and heart on the Bolt’s dashboard is the massive, 10.2-inch colour touchscreen show that’s residence to a singular model of Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system. The software program has been stripped right down to the necessities. There’s satellite tv for pc and terrestrial radio, Bluetooth calling and audio streaming and USB connectivity for audio playback, however no onboard navigation and even the choice so as to add it.

As a substitute, Chevy leans closely on the motive force’s smartphone to fill MyLink’s performance gaps with normal Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. Why pay for navigation while you’ve already obtained a cellphone in your pocket? These smartphone-mirroring applied sciences deliver navigation, audio streaming and messaging apps to the dashboard through a easy USB connection. Chevrolet’s betting that the type of tech-forward drivers who’re the Bolt’s key demographic will discover this phone-centric setup preferable to extra typical improve fashions.

Nonetheless, this pared-down method to tech brings just a few surprising drawbacks. With no onboard maps, there is no strategy to, for instance, seek for or navigate to charging stations from the Bolt’s dashboard, and neither Android nor Apple’s software program gives an answer.

If I needed to seek out someplace to cost on the street, I might have to tug over, unplug my cellphone, open ChargePoint or EvGo and discover a station. Then I might need to set that station as a vacation spot in Google Maps, plug my cellphone again in and resume navigation with Android Auto. That is simply an excessive amount of work.

The Bolt’s MyLink infotainment system depends closely in your smartphone for performance.

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You may benefit from the onboard OnStar 4G LTE knowledge connection to beam turn-by-turn navigation (sans maps) and concierge companies into the dashboard. This connection additionally powers moveable Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity, distant monitoring and telematics management of the EV through Chevrolet’s MyLink app for smartphones and smartwatches. Nonetheless, turn-by-turn navigation is a part of the most costly “Limitless Entry” subscription plan and most drivers might be higher off simply sticking with their cellphone’s software program after the Bolt’s three-month free trial expires.

Driver assist upgrades

The Bolt’s suite of accessible driver assist expertise is strong, however not almost as superior as you’d count on from a automotive with such a high-tech powertrain.

In my loaded-up Premier mannequin with all the bells and whistles, there is a Encompass Imaginative and prescient system. This evolution of the rear digicam stitches collectively feeds from 4 strategically situated cameras to supply a 360-degree view of the realm across the automotive at low speeds. This type of hen’s-eye view may be very useful when squeezing into tight spots, but it surely’s not as spectacular as an autosteering parking system can be.

An non-obligatory Driver Confidence II package deal provides Lane Maintaining Help, which makes use of the electrical energy steering to assist preserve the Bolt between the lane markers at freeway speeds. The package deal additionally brings with it a ahead precollision alert system with low-speed automated emergency braking. The system may even detect and brake for pedestrians. Nonetheless, whereas the Following Distance Indicator can let you understand while you’re too shut behind the automotive forward, there is no adaptive cruise management possibility that may routinely preserve a secure cruising distance for you.

Most of the Bolt’s opponents provide higher driver help tech.

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Right here, the competitors begins to essentially make up floor and surpass the Bolt. The Tesla Mannequin three’s Autopilot suite, for instance, is considerably extra superior immediately and guarantees a level of future-proofing for tomorrow with over-the-air software program updates. Nonetheless, much more modest opponents just like the the Hyundai Ioniq, Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 characteristic extra full driver assist suites with obtainable adaptive cruise management that higher meet the upper tech expectations of savvy EV consumers.

How I might spec it

The 2019 Chevrolet Bolt begins at $37,495 (together with an $875 vacation spot cost) for the bottom LT mannequin, however my Premier mannequin climbs to $41,780. Stepping up will get you blind-spot monitoring, a surround-view digicam, and a serving to of quality-of-life upgrades, like leather-based perforated seats.

When you’re checking bins, seize the $495 Driver Confidence II package deal to spherical out the security tech suite — that’ll require additionally getting the $485 Infotainment package deal — and do not forget the $750 DC fast-charging port; it is a lifesaver. Spec it like me and also you’re $43,510 earlier than subtracting any federal/state electrical automotive tax rebates or seller incentives.

For those who’re feeling saucy, perhaps decide a extra attention-grabbing hue than this instance. I like to recommend the new-for-2019 highlighter inexperienced colour referred to as “Shock.”

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Affected person potential EV house owners have the choice of ready for Hyundai’s Kona Electrical, Kia’s 2019 Niro EV and 2020 Soul EV, or the upcoming long-range Nissan Leaf e-Plus mannequin, all of that are anticipated to fall in the identical value vary with related cruising vary and barely higher tech. Additionally on the horizon is the $35,000 “normal” Tesla Mannequin three, which ought to arrive someday in 2019. (In fact, drivers keen to stretch the finances a bit can get within the door on a “midrange” Mannequin three sooner for round $46,000 to $51,000.)

The 2019 Chevrolet Bolt remains to be a strong worth and my of our favourite EVs in its class, but it surely’s not as uniquely good because it was. Then once more, a bit competitors is an efficient factor, particularly for electrical automotive customers.

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