2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Has Greater Range but Little Swagger

The updated Bolt EV benefits from a larger battery but still lacks any sort of emotional pull.

© Joey Capparella - Car and Driver   An upgraded battery keeps the 2020 Bolt in the hunt with other big-range compact EVs, but it still lacks any sort of emotional pull.

By Joey Capparella, Car and Driver

The Chevrolet Bolt EV was on top of the world when it debuted in 2016. At a time when most affordable EVs struggled to go even 100 miles on a charge, the Bolt was a revolution that promised an EPA-rated 238 miles of range for less than $40,000. But life comes at you fast when you're a revolutionary. In short order, General Motors's pride and joy was confronted by a raft of stiff EV competition from Hyundai, Kia, and—yes—the Tesla Model 3.

Chevy has tinkered with the Bolt's battery chemistry for 2020 to keep its range estimates competitive, upping the energy density of the cells to increase the capacity of the lithium-ion battery pack mounted under the floor from 60.0 kWh to 66.0. This increase provides an extra 21 miles of range, according to the EPA, meaning the new Bolt's 259-mile estimate just edges out the Hyundai Kona Electric's rating by a single mile and the entry-level Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus's by nine miles.

© Joey Capparella - Car and Driver   2020 Cherolet Bolt EV Premier

We haven't been able to conduct our official 75-mph highway range test to see what Chevy's latest EV can really do. But we did drive one 268 miles on a single charge in a non-scientific test in the mountains of Death Valley—and even had an indicated 33 miles of range remaining when we were finished. Back in Michigan and now under a different sort of extreme circumstances, we certainly did not feel any sort of range anxiety while running (essential) errands in our Bolt Premier test car.

Apart from the upgraded battery, the Bolt has changed little since its debut. It didn't really need to. It's hard to argue with the compelling rationality of the Bolt's packaging. The interior is airy, and the low, flat floor allows for a comfortable seating position in the rear and a decent 17 cubic feet of cargo space. The quality of the plastics say economy more than premium, but the two-tone dashboard design is attractive enough, and the LG-supplied display screens remain crisp and clear in their presentation of key information.

© Chevrolet   2020 Cherolet Bolt EV Premier

We enjoyed puttering around town in the Bolt. Its handling is more athletic than its tall, narrow profile would suggest. As with most EVs, a low center of gravity means it doesn't roll much in corners, and the steering is satisfyingly heavy in effort even if it doesn't offer much feedback. The 200-hp electric motor, with its 266 lb-ft of torque from zero rpm, is suitably powerful for scooting away from stoplights. The model we tested in California posted a zero-to-60-mph time of 6.7 seconds, which is hardly performance-car territory but still usefully quicker than most gasoline-powered economy cars.

The Bolt, however, still does cost considerably more than most economy cars. Our fully loaded test car, with its optional premium audio system, fast-charging capability, and set of driver-assistance features, rang in at $43,735. That's a lot of cash to spend on a dorky-looking hatchback, no matter how practical it is or how far it can go on a charge. And therein lies the rub with the Bolt's commitment to EV rationality. It's not cool by any stretch of the imagination, and the recent battery upgrades don't make it any more desirable on an emotional level. If you're spending around $40K on an electric vehicle, it's tough not to make a case instead for a sexier Tesla Model 3 and the brand cachet that comes with it. We know that sounds irrational, but that's how car buying often works.

See more at: Car and Driver


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Automotive Magazine: 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Has Greater Range but Little Swagger
2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Has Greater Range but Little Swagger
The updated Bolt EV benefits from a larger battery but still lacks any sort of emotional pull.
Automotive Magazine
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