By on July 10, 2018

2018 Chevrolet Bolt

Permanent magnetic drive motor (200 horsepower; 266 lb-ft)

Single motor and gearset, front-wheel drive

128 city / 110 highway / 119 combined (EPA Rating, MPGe)

1.8 city, 2.1 highway, 2.0 combined. (NRCan Rating, Le/100km)

Base Price: $40,905 (U.S) / $49,300 (Canada)

As Tested: $43,510 (U.S.) / $51,990 (Canada)

Prices include $875 destination charge in the United States and $1,895 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

Despite winning some key awards upon introduction (including 2017 North American International Car of the Year), the 2018 Chevrolet Bolt has flown a bit under the radar thanks to all the noise surrounding Tesla’s Model 3.

Which is a pity, really. I don’t know if the Tesla is better than the Bolt, as I haven’t yet driven the 3, but I do know the Bolt is worthy of more attention than what it’s getting.

I also know that the rest of Chevy’s small-car lineup could use an infusion of the Bolt’s design. There’s plenty to like about the car that has nothing to do with its EV powertrain, and some of those good qualities would be well-suited to other vehicles in the brand’s portfolio.

I’ll get to that. What you most need to know about the Bolt, if you don’t already, is that Chevy’s electric hatchback has an EPA-estimated maximum combined range of 238 miles (225 city/217 highway). That gives it a decided edge over Nissan’s Leaf (151 miles) and a slight boost over the standard Tesla Model 3 (220 miles), although it’s far from the promised 310 miles of range from the long-range version of the Model 3.

For whatever reason, I never put that range to the test – I did a lot of driving in the Bolt if measured by time, but not so much in terms of miles. In other words, I drove a lot of short trips in an urban environment, mostly sitting in traffic. I wish I’d put more miles on it – not to challenge it on range, but to spend even more time with an interesting car.

2018 Chevrolet Bolt

The Bolt’s electric motor makes 200 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque and, like any other EV, the torque is felt instantly, making for swift around-town acceleration.

Ride and handling is about on par with other small commuter cars – engaging enough to be interesting but middle of the road enough to remind you that this is a commuter car, not a sports car. The ride is unremarkably balanced, but it’s comfy enough.

Speaking of comfort, the tall roof allows for plenty of headroom to go with the abundant legroom. Unfortunately, the design also features an expansive dash that poses glare issues. There’s acres of dashboard there, man.

I dug the available wireless cell phone charger, but found it worked inconsistently with my iPhone. A too-quick turn could cut the connection.

2018 Chevrolet Bolt

Chevy’s press materials claim the upright seats deliver an SUV-like view of the road, and while that’s a stretch (you’re still closer to the ground than you would be in any SUV), you do get good visibility thanks to the seats and the large windshield.

New and Used Chevy Bolt Prices

Back on the road, the Bolt has the ability for regenerative braking via one-pedal driving, like a few other EVs out there. For those that don’t know what that means, it means you can lift off the gas and the vehicle will slow much more quickly than it would if it were coasting – it’s basically like hitting the brakes. The brake pedal is still there to provide quicker stops, and you’ll need it to fully stop the Bolt – the one-pedal ability gets you down to a couple MPH, but not a full stop. Correction: I screwed up. I have confirmed with Chevrolet that when the shifter is in the “L” position, you CAN bring the Bolt to a stop using one-pedal driving. You cannot do so in “D.” As a safety precaution, the vehicle will NOT stop in “L” if your seatbelt is off. Finally, you can also stop the Bolt using the regenerative braking paddle. When you release the paddle in “D,” the Bolt will creep, release in “L” and it will remain stopped.

The one-pedal action takes some getting used to, but once you’re used to the sudden deceleration, it becomes second nature easily enough.

Expansive dash aside (seriously, developers could build homes on it), the interior design of the Bolt manages to be both eye-pleasing and easy to use. The infotainment screen is large at 10.2 inches, and it’s easy to both read and use. It’s far better than Chevy’s already solid MyLink infotainment, and the screen for the gauge cluster is also easy to read. I’d like to see the infotainment system used on other Chevys.

The physical buttons below the screen are also easy to use and intuitive in terms of layout.

Materials did strike me as a tad downmarket for the price, and the panel gap between the closed driver’s door and the dashboard made me wince. Minor quibbles, to be sure, but the Bolt isn’t cheap and one expects Chevy to recognize that if you’re ponying up for the Bolt, it’s not just for the EV powertrain.

I didn’t need to charge the Bolt during my time with it, which strikes me as a bit of a win (hooray, range!), although I also didn’t put a lot of miles on it, like I said. If you need to charge it, which you will eventually, a full charge of the lithium-ion battery will take 9 hours and change via a 240-volt outlet. A 120-volt outlet will net you 4 miles of charge per hour.

Forget the EV powertrain or the nearly 240 miles of range for a second – the Bolt is a well-packaged small car with interesting design and infotainment tech. That alone may make it worthy of a look, although the price ($37,495 base, including D and D and before incentives), will make many a non-EV customer blanch. And yes, the Model 3 is costlier once optioned out.

2018 Chevrolet Bolt

Speaking of options, my Premier-trim test car had heated front seats, leather seats, heated rear seats, USB port, lane-change alert, blind-zone alert, 360-camera, rear park assist, rear cross-traffic assist, and more standard. Options included lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning, low speed forward automatic braking, front pedestrian braking with pedestrian detection, wireless device charging, rear USB, and premium audio.

The Model 3 isn’t the only competitor, of course. For similar money one can snag a Volt without leaving Chevrolet’s showroom, and the Volt offers gas backup to alleviate range anxiety.

So the Bolt’s market may be limited, for now at least. But for those interested, the car is interesting enough to be worth it.

New and Used Chevy Bolt Prices

[Images: © 2018 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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55 Comments on “2018 Chevrolet Bolt Premier Review – Electricity Isn’t Even the Most Interesting Part [UPDATED]...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    It’s nice to see the infotainment screen integrated into the dash and not sticking up like a Pop-Tart.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The only thing I don’t like about the Bolt is that the HVAC control bumpout catches the side of my knee.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    If they aren’t already, Chevy and other makers of electric cars should be marketing heavily to families with two car households. I think generally, a lot of households still have a family hauler and then a smaller vehicle for one parent’s commute or errands without family in tow. This smaller vehicle will probably rarely go on long trips and as long as you have a ICE vehicle still in your household, you just switch so that the shorter range driver takes the electric.

    I could totally make 250 miles of electric range work 100% of the time in my household as long as I had a gas powered vehicle at my disposal for long trips or to cart entire family around.

    • 0 avatar
      a5ehren

      Yeah, my eventual goal is minivan for kid-hauling and an EV for commuting. But the minivan comes first and the EV won’t happen until it is paid off.

      • 0 avatar
        Lightspeed

        I can see me and the wife having one electric car for 80% of our trips and a used luxury boat in the garage for trips.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Astute observation gamper. My wife has a largely urban commute of about 10 miles each way and absolutely hates filling up at our sketchy gas stations with various panhandlers and vagrants. In fact just two nights ago I ran her Camry over to the local Marathon to fill it up and there were a pair of quite antsy/meth-y fellows hanging out in an old Blazer. She’s a prime candidate for a plug-in hybrid or fully electrical option that can be charged at home.

          • 0 avatar
            SSJeep

            GTEM – I am in the market for an EV and while I like Tesla vehicles, I need a bit more utility. The Bolt may be the perfect fit, especially with 240 mile range. A Bolt would save me a ton of time (and dough) on gas. I know that it takes a LOT of gas to make up the difference in price versus the Spark or Cruze – but then I would have to stop and fill an ICE vehicle. I hate wasting time at gas stations.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    One can buy a boatload of gasoline for the price difference between a Volt and nicely equipped Civic or Corolla.

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      Except the actual take home price might not be that far apart. Local dealer here will sell you a Bolt $7,500 under MSRP. Then you can tag on the $7,500 from the feds and in my state, another $2,500 in rebates.

      Some people will still want a Civic but the Bolt is a nice alternative to get into a EV for low $20s.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Bolt is also going to be smoother and quieter than either, and significantly quicker than any Corolla.

  • avatar
    Odiemac

    Model 3 and Bolt EV owner here. The cars are totally different, and its a bit like comparing a Kia Soul and an Audi A4. In some ways a Soul is better than an A4 and vise versa, but no one would realistically cross-shop them.

    So the comparison only makes sense while there is no other practical/affordable EV’s out there. Hopefully this changes in a few years as mainstream manufacture are waking up to how great EV’s are.

  • avatar
    bts

    I came across an interesting article about a teardown of the Bolt and thought I’d share, https://www.adandp.media/blog/post/breaking-down-the-chevy-bolt

  • avatar

    I’d say if you never got a chance to consider range anxiety and you never even charged it you didn’t really even approach what it means to have an electric car. Range anxiety and charging complexities and times are the two largest downsides to EVs

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      There is no range anxiety with a 238-mile EV except for road trips.

      You start every morning with a “full tank.” You never leave the house with a couple gallons and the nagging knowledge that you have to fill up.

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        Except people complain that range can fall by 50% in cold weather, and if your spouse worries when the range falls to less than 50 km….. equals constant range anxiety with a moderate commute.

        • 0 avatar
          pwrwrench

          This is what inquiring minds want to know. An interesting test would be the Bolt/Volt along with a similar sized ICE car. Run them in the “ideal” conditions, where the range is calculated, about 70F and little wind. And then in temp extremes, below freezing and above 90F. I expect that the electric version has a refrigerant type of AC with the compressor driven by an electric motor and the heat will come from resistance elements. Both of these will take power out of the battery pack. How this will effect range only testing will reveal.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            A/C, even at full blast, has little effect on my C-Max’s electric range. Heat, on the other hand, can reduce it by about one-third (not 50%).

            But it still takes a pretty long commute to generate range anxiety in a Bolt. A bit over a third off the range and you still have 150 miles. There is zero reason to worry whatsoever unless you are under 25 miles. How many people really commute 62 miles each way every day? There are a few, but not that many.

        • 0 avatar
          PJmacgee

          If you are actually curious about the Bolt’s range (over a year in Colorado):

          Moderate to HOT temps (w/ or w/o AC): 260-300 city/suburbs, no joke
          Moderate to HOT temps (w/ or w/o AC): 220-240 75mph highway cruising, including crossing the Rockies (lots of regen on the long downhills)
          Cold Weather (40s and below): about 70% of everything above

          The grin-inducing pleasure of 260 lb-ft instant(!) silent torque really can’t be overstated here.

          I read someone on this site recently describe the Bolt as a penalty box…what world are you living in that a seriously quick car with heated steering wheel, heated front AND rear seats, 360 camera, etc etc etc is a penalty box?

          • 0 avatar
            PJmacgee

            *Should’ve said: “over a year, and 13,000 miles”

            **The loss of range in cold weather is due to the cabin air heater mostly, not really battery chemistry. You could theoretically drive with no heat, all bundled up like a weirdo, and get the same warm-weather range. AC uses only a trivial amount of power though, even on the hottest days, doesn’t affect range.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Good info.

            However, I will disagree with your definition of cold weather, and suggest that battery chemistry probably is affected at -40, when I’m bundled up like a weirdo despite my ICE!

          • 0 avatar
            SSJeep

            PJMacgee – agreed, the Bolt is most assuredly not a penalty box. The one I drove had wonderful tech and felt comfortable enough. Thank you for the post on actual range!

        • 0 avatar
          blockmachining

          So far, the largest range drop I’ve experienced is 22% and that’s with a 10 minute, in the garage but unplugged cabin preconditioning event. Without the preconditioning event, I’m running right at 20% reduction with HVAC set on 73 degrees. Keeping the car in the garage has also limited the battery conditioning events to one!

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      I killed a Leaf once at a previous place of employment. So believe me, I know

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    It’s regrettable that Chevy makes DC Fast Charging (480 volt) optional on the Bolt EV. Provided you live somewhere with reasonable charging infrastructure, DCFC means that a long-range EV is no longer a “second car,” but just a “car,” one you can road-trip in and recharge while lunching or pooping.

    Of course, in many areas the charging infrastructure ain’t that great, and unlike all other common forms of charging, DCFC typically costs at *least* as much on a per-gallon equivalent basis as gas.

    So the Volt makes a swell alternative: enough pure-electric range for most anyone’s daily chores, and if you’re road-tripping instead, its “fast charger” is a gas tank you can fill anywhere.

    They’re both great cars. The Bolt EV feels roomier and is way more space efficient, has a nicer ride on good pavement, has a cooler interface, and has the cachet of a pure EV. The Volt looks sportier outside and feels more luxurious inside, has better seats and a higher quality interior, and uses more traditional controls. The Volt is quicker to 30 mph and the Bolt is quicker to 60 mph, but they’re both plenty amusing in Sport mode.

    One day I hope to be able to walk into any Tesla showroom and drive out in a base-model 3 leased for a competitive price. Until that day, Chevy has the two best electrified rides for most people.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      “Provided you live somewhere with reasonable charging infrastructure, DCFC means that a long-range EV is no longer a “second car,” but just a “car,” one you can road-trip in and recharge while lunching or pooping.”

      If your poops take 9 hours, you should seek medical attention. Even with the DC charger, a full charge is going to take about 2 hours. Maybe I am a snob, but I’d rather not spend that kind of time at a typical rest stop.

      A Bolt is not suitable for road trips. One would have to rent a gas car until the DC superfast network is built out, and even with that the Bolt will add at least 2 hours for every 250 miles driven. I think it fits best in a household with multiple drivers and at least 1 gasoline car suited for long distance travel.

      For me, on paper this looks good- had no idea it had 200HP; it’s quick enough. But it’s ugly, cheap looking, and at MSRP at least very expensive. I said years ago that Cadillac should be GM’s gateway to EV land- $10-15K on top of this with a stylish interior/exterior, 100 more HP and maybe 50-100 more miles sounds nice. Nicer than an ATS for sure. But I have to give credit where it’s due- this is a huge step in the right direction.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “Provided you live somewhere with reasonable charging infrastructure, DCFC means that a long-range EV is no longer a “second car,” but just a “car,” one you can road-trip in and recharge while lunching or pooping.”

      This BS has been around since the first uber-geek decided he would invent every excuse he could find to “justify” having an EV as his only car.

      We’ve been hearing for years about how “oh, road trips are no big deal, you’re going to stop for lunch anyway, might as well be charging the car at the same time”. Apparently these people want you to believe that stopping for an hour and a half every 250 miles–AND EATING–is a normal, every day occurrence that you’re doing today with your Honda Civic.

      Nope.

  • avatar
    j_slez

    “The brake pedal is still there to provide quicker stops, and you’ll need it to fully stop the Bolt – the one-pedal ability gets you down to a couple MPH, but not a full stop.”

    So, Tim, do you drive without your seatbelt? Unless it’s a significant downhill, the Bolt will come to a complete stop and hold the car stopped. But as a safety feature, it will roll if the driver’s seatbelt isn’t fastened. This is to prevent you from getting out of the car and walking away with it in gear.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    We are thinking of going down to one car (which would probably be a Pacifica Hybrid) when our C-Max Energi lease expires next April. But if we stay with two cars, the Bolt is likely to be one of them. It’s the best compact EV on the market right now.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Bolt + Pacifica hybrid makes my inner greenie happy. Bummer that the only PHEV high riding mainstreamers are by Mitsubishi and FCA though. Something like a Murano would be much nicer.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Having sat in both, the Pacifica is just as nice as a Murano inside.

        It’s no LX570, but if we’re going to have just one car it is mandatory that it be a PHEV, and the PacHy is the only realistic option. (Volvo XC90 T8 is what my wife would really want, but it’s just too spendy.)

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          The Pacifica has a seriously handsome and well put together interior. The only thing I’d wish for is to make that rotary shifter knob out of aluminum or something heftier feeling than the plastic one that’s on there. It’s such a center-point on the dash and something you do touch with some regularity. I think if I bought one (seriously considering one for our first family car), I’d machine a custom one assuming the OE one can easily just pop off.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          I just have an irrational aversion to 3 row vehicles. The Pacifica also wouldn’t fit in our garage in its current configuration. The FCA interior update of ~2014 or so was nice though; their interiors are very competitive.

        • 0 avatar
          jalop1991

          “but if we’re going to have just one car it is mandatory that it be a PHEV, and the PacHy is the only realistic option.”

          Yeah, well, I’ll trade off PHEV and instead move to a gas version that has freaking MEMORY SEATS.

          Gee, Chrysler, you can’t imagine that both mom and dad drive the car??

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    “A 120-volt outlet will net you 4 miles of charge per hour.”

    60 hours of charging for the full 240 miles of range? I like ev’s as much as ttac, but that desn’t seem practical.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      I like EVs a lot, but would never get one without 240-volt charging at home.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “60 hours of charging for the full 240 miles of range? I like ev’s as much as ttac, but that desn’t seem practical.”

      the point is you plug it in every night; you don’t run it down to “E” like people typically do with gas cars.

      • 0 avatar
        j_slez

        Yup, just imagine there’s a gas fairy who adds three gallons to your tank every night. Now how often will you need to go to the gas station?

        Some people will need 240-volt charging. I have one, but it’s been in the box for four years because I’ve never felt the need to actually get it installed. For the past year I’ve been a 2-EV household, no gas at all, and I still do just fine on 120.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    We have gotten to the point range wise where I would consider an electric. Now somebody needs to build one in this price range that is fun to drive. While they are heavy the weight is low so I don’t see that as an insurmountable challenge and the characteristics of an electric power train can make for lots of fun.

    I think they are still addressing practical stuff so we are probably still a couple of generations away from a “bolt Z24”

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      This is my gripe with this. It’s fast enough but it’s ugly and not very dynamic. I think a big part of the Model S’s success stem from its looks and driving dynamics. If someone can bring that to the ~$30-40K price point (like, for real, not “at some point in the future” like the Model 3) they will have a smash.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    The only EV I could actually see myself owning. At least until Honda brings that retro styled duo it has shown in concept form. The little hatchback looks awesome.

    Although not as attractive as that Honda, I find the Bolt handsome enough. I could see it as an addition to an existing fleet of gas cars, but not as my only car. To be fair, I do live pretty far out in the country and have put in excess of 250 miles on my car in one day when I had to go to two different cities (in opposite directions) for different reasons.

  • avatar
    Carroll Prescott

    Decidedly low rent from the company that continues to underwhelm. I’d never buy a Tesla simply because of the arrogance of the folks who do (like Honduh and Toyoduh owners and how they consistently are tailgaters, fail to stop for stop signs, and assume the rules of the road are for other people).

    I want to like this but it is too expensive (and why should the taxpayers subsidize a car that we’ve already subsidized the company that makes them?).

    And it is a Chevrolet.

  • avatar
    Steverino

    Tim, based on your photos you live just a couple blocks north of me. If your parking situation is like most of the neighborhood’s, it’s good you never had to plug it in since that would require a lucky parking space and a long, long cord. One reason electrics won’t work for a large portion of the world’s population.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      I live in a building that has outlets in the garage, but they are a pain to access.

      So have you seen either the Corvette Stingray with the number plate or the FR-S with FT 86 markings cruising the ‘hood?

  • avatar
    arach

    I might be dense, but the article spends some time talking about “L”.

    What the heck is “L” mode?

    I assume “D” is for “Drive”.

    “L” in a traditional automatic might be “low”, although I haven’t seen that in like 15 years, coupled with the fact that “low” makes no reasonable sense for what I believe is a transmissionless single-speed vehicle… in addition, theres no “L” on the shifter shown in the image.

    can someone clarify what the heck the “L” mode is the author is talking about?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      “L mode” is the single-pedal option that brakes when you lift off the go pedal. It feels more or less like a hydrostatic riding mower with a foot pedal.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        Thanks Bumpy!

        So that’s all it is eh? Figured there was more to it. Anyone know what it stands for? I feel like a single pedal option would be called something more like “1 pedal Mode” I can’t figure out what L would stand for.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      “L” is meant for Low in the traditional sense from the 2-speed or 3-speed transmissions from the 60s through the early 80s. But it is applied differently in the Bolt (and Volt).

      In the old days you would throw your car in low for steep declines or mountain driving, etc. In the Bolt/Volt it works much in the same way that if you lift off the accelerator with the car in “L” it will slow dramatically. However, like you pointed out, the Bolt/Volt have a single-speed transmission* so you can drive it in “L” all the way up to its top speed if you choose to do so. Then, as you let off the “gas” the car uses the electric motor as a generator to slow the car without ever using the brakes.
      As for the picture, I had forgotten that GM decided to put in their – let’s change how the shifter works because we can – shifter in the Bolt. I currently own a Volt which still had the traditional P-R-N-D-L setup.

      *I know saying single-speed transmission is a highly simplified version of how the Bolt/Volt get the engine power to the wheels, so please don’t correct me on this.


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