CHATHAM, Mass. – Appearances can certainly be misleading as the surprisingly refreshed 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV offers a lot more vehicle than simply the ability to pass every gas pump.
The look is modern, 5-door subcompact with the wheels pushed to the four corners for maximum interior space, enhanced by a flat floor; a tall roof with very large windows which all translates into the feel of a larger car.
After a day of driving the Bolt around the crowded village streets, packed country roads and heavily traveled highways of in-season Cape Cod I was convinced this was the perfect vehicle for a couple living here. A week later, my opinion had grown stronger.
The Bolt can scoot around traffic thanks to the instantaneous acceleration of an electric powertrain; fits in virtually any parking spot (including some not-so-obvious ones); bypasses all gas stations (which seem to get a per-gallon price bump each summer season); its 259-mile range is more than adequate for all on Cape driving and is about the most affordable EV on the market – enhanced by a $5,900 price drop!
(ELECTRIC) POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Chevrolet packed a 200-horsepower permanent-magnet electric motor under the front hood powering the Bolt’s front wheels. Further aided by the motor’s 266 pounds-feet of torque, the small Chevy can accelerate to 60 miles per hour in a quick 6.5 seconds.
Full-bore acceleration will rapidly diminish battery power, as will steady highway speeds, but in general driving, the 2022 Bolt will reach about 260 miles of range, well beyond the average vehicle user’s daily 30 or so miles of use.
A 65 kWh lithium-ion battery provides the energy and on a DC fast charger can regain up to 100 miles of range in 30 minutes. On a 240-volt charger (which is the way to go to make EV ownership reasonable) up to 39 miles of charge per hour is a reasonable expectation, with a full charge coming in under seven hours.
And Chevrolet includes free installation of a 240V NEMA 14-50 outlet (the style necessary for 240V EV chargers) with every Bolt purchase (having 240V electrical service in the home/garage is the consumer’s responsibility).
EASY ONE-PEDAL DRIVING
Like virtually every EV and hybrid-electric vehicle sold in the United States, the Chevrolet Bolt features regenerative braking as a means of recapturing some of the energy generated from slowing the car.
One-pedal driving, which means simply easing back on the accelerator pedal (I have to remember to not call it a gas pedal) begins to add juice back into the battery and slow the Bolt. Eventually, the system will bring the Bolt to a complete stop.
Turning on one-pedal driving is accomplished by pushing a button on the console just behind the drive-selector buttons (Park-Reverse-Neutral-Drive). And unlike some other manufacturers’ systems, the Chevrolet one-pedal system remains “on” until the driver manually cancels it (so no need to remember to activate it each time the Bolt is restarted).
The amount of regenerative power can be increased with Regen on Demand, controlled by a large paddle on the left side of the steering wheel.
A LOT OF ADVANCED STUFF PACKED INTO THIS SMALL PACKAGE
The Bolt 2LT trim I drove was comprehensively equipped.
The roomy interior might not be as plush as some luxury rides, but premium amenities and features abound heated perforated leather-trimmed seats; heated leather-wrapped steering wheel; automatic climate control; tilt/telescoping steering wheel; wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; 17-inch aluminum wheels; cloud-based navigation, and a 10.2-inch color touch screen.
Continuing with the list of features normally the purview of more expensive vehicles, the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt features a long list of advanced driver-assistance systems within the Chevy Safety Assist umbrella such as:
- Automatic emergency braking
- Front-pedestrian braking
- Lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning
- Following-distance indicator
- Forward-collision alert
- Intellibeam-auto high beam
- Rear-park assist
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Lane-change alert with side blind-spot alert
- HD surround vision (360° camera)
THE BOTTOM LINE IS VERY FRIENDLY
The value proposition of the Bolt goes beyond picking up the cost of an electrician. The Bolt comes in two trim levels – 1LT, 2LT. For 2022, the 1LT was $32,495, while the better-equipped 2LT $35,695.
Chevrolet made two changes for the 2023 model year: added radiant red to the exterior-color palette and dropped the price by $5,900, the same amount offered as a “purchase cash allowance,” essentially lowering the 2022 price by the same $5,900.
This all means the comprehensively equipped 2LT I drove ($35,695 base), with optional $595) infotainment package (Bose premium audio system; wireless mobile-device charging; two USB outlets), adaptive cruise control ($375), cherry red tintcoat paint ($495), the destination charge ($995), had an as reviewed price of $32,255.
I have been spending a lot of time during the last two months driving some of the newest electric vehicles. All have been impressive for their engineering and design, for being able to achieve some specific goals which also meant certain compromises.
Performance vehicles maximized the power of the electric powertrains but sacrificed some battery range. The sport-utility vehicles picked up more range at the cost of some driving fun.
One thing they all had in common were price points north of $50,000, which meant there were demographics that could not afford these vehicles.
Then there is the Chevrolet Bolt (and its slightly longer – more rear leg room) Bolt EUV (about $2,000 more expensive) stablemate. Both cost considerably less than $40,000 for a comprehensively equipped EV, making them much more universally appealing.
And these are not entry-level, stripper cars, but real-world, very practical examples of modern EV engineering.