An affordable all-electric car
Base MSRP: From $36,620
- LT – From $36,620
- Premier – From $40,905
Destination Charge: $875
Tax Credit: Up to $3,750
EPA Range: 238 miles, pure electric
Battery: 60 kWh 350 V lithium-ion
Dimensions: 164″ L x 70″ W x 63″ H
Reviews of the Chevy Bolt
Performance: Electric vehicle (EV); 200 horsepower
Mileage estimate: Equivalent of 110-128 mpg
Price estimate: $36,800 to $41,200
Warranty: 3 years / 36,000 miles
Drivetrain warranty: 5 years /60,000 miles
Roadside assistance: 5 years / 100,000 miles
Corrosion warranty: 6 years / 100,000 miles
2020 Chevy Bolt
Overall, there’s no comparing it to the more flashy, high-tech Tesla Model 3, but the Chevy Bolt continues to hold a prominent place among small electric vehicles.
Introduced in 2017, the Bolt is a subcompact hatchback whose best quality is it goes a long way before requiring a charge. Improvements to the 2020 Chevy Bolt include a 21-mile increase in range to 259 miles, thanks to its new 66 kWh battery. Among this year’s EV vehicles, only the Model 3 (310 miles) goes farther than the Bolt.
With a starting price of approximately $36,800, the Bolt has positioned itself as a solid competitor for the Model 3, which now goes for just under $40,000. Note that both the Chevy Bolt and the Model 3 no longer qualify for a federal tax credit.
Unlike the extremely techy Model 3, the Bolt has fairly simplistic controls and a 10-inch touchscreen that is a bit slow to react. Yet the truth is, many car buyers prefer the simplicity in comparison to the Model 3’s high tech complexities. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard with the Bolt, but built-in navigation isn’t available, so drivers must rely on their smartphone for directions.
The Bolt offers good head and leg room for front seat occupants. Three people is a definite squeeze in the back, where head room is amble but the legs can feel a bit cramped. The cargo area is good, providing 16.9 cubic-feet of space that expands to 56.6 when the rear seats are folded down.
One downside to the Bolt is the interior. The front seats are thin and too hard, not a good combination for any long-distance driving, especially for larger people. The front seats don’t have any lumbar adjustment and power-adjustable seats are not available even in the Premiere model. Other issues include hard plastic materials and a thin carpet.
While the Tesla Model 3 has a cool exterior that sets it apart, the Bolt has a rather dorky appearance that many other EVs also possess. The Bolt is tall overall, yet has a smallish front end, hence the odd look. And its name has always been baffling, considering Chevy came out earlier with the Volt, a plug-in hybrid? However, there’s no confusing the two any longer since the Volt was discontinued for 2020.
The Chevy Bolt has two trim models – LT and Premier. Although mechanically the same, the upper-end Premiere model comes with additional standard features like heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, blind-spot monitoring, rear camera mirror, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and roof-mounted side rails.
Battery charging is always a concern for any EV owner. The Bolt takes approximately 9.5 hours for a full charge, using a standard 240-volt outlet at home. A Level 3 charging station can add roughly 90 miles of range every 30 minutes.
Despite its impressive range and some other fine qualities, sales of the Bolt continue to dip. Chevy sold 23,297 Bolts in 2017, that figure fell to 18,019 in 2018, and a year later the total was 16,418. The thinking here is the Model 3 impacts all EV sales. Last year, Tesla sales of the Model 3 was a staggering 158,925.
Vehicle Power and Speed
Although its appearance will have many people believing it’s gutless, the Bolt delivers surprising power in all driving situations. It generates 200 horsepower and 266-pound-feet of torque, allowing the Bolt to accelerate from 0-60 mph in an impressive 6.9 seconds.
The 3,563-pound Bolt still possesses ample power with four or a maximum of five people onboard and gets an impressive 110-128 mpge. The electric motor offers instantaneous acceleration, but is noticeably not as robust during freeway passing situations.
We’re impressed with the performance and also how it drives. The underfloor battery pack gives the Bolt a low center of gravity that makes the vehicle feel nimble on even challenging, curvy roads. The regenerative braking system recharges the battery when one lifts their foot off the accelerator and means the driver won’t frequently be using the brake pedal.
Issues are few as the 2020 Chevy Bolt remains a standout among its peers. Its top characteristic is still the enormous mileage range and the surprisingly spunky performance and solid handling.
Reviews from our Readers
My three years with my Bolt EV (leased of course) has been fun, easy, but difficult in explaining to others on my Car and Driver Backfires forum what it means to have an EV. I tell them plugging in 10 hours a week (my range is close to 300 miles per charge) is much easier than waiting in Costco’s gas line for 15 minutes and buying gas. My biggest surprise is the quick launch to 60 (under 6.5 seconds). In my 55 years of driving with 30+ cars, this is among the most fun, and easiest to live with.
Here in Las Vegas, my younger and smarter neighbors use no fossil fuels to charge…they simply use solar panels, but the smart people are better than I am. My wife is really in love with her 2015 Mercedes GLK 350…a V6 gas burner. I don’t want to sell it, as she loves it, but the smart folks have ONLY their EV…and for those one or two long road trips they take, they simply rent a gas burner.
As you know, it is much cheaper renting a gas car once or twice a year, than owning, maintaining, insuring, and licensing a gas car that spends most of its life in the garage. (My EV covers 95% of our driving, so the gas car never goes out much).
Finally, as the new Bolts (2022 models) won’t come out for 8 months or so (there are no 2021 models); I was considering a PHEV…a step down from an EV. However, my neighbors and fellow writers on the Car and Driver Forum told me something very interesting and worth repeating. When you have a PHEV, it is not like an electric, which you know, will be all-electric, but driving the PHEV makes you “want” to use only electric and avoid gas use. Well, guess what? Those Chevy Volt owners now have a five year car that has been good, but the engine which is the most expensive part of the car, is like brand new….it never really got used while searching all the time to use those 45-50+ electric miles sparingly. All that money for an engine they never really used.
True electric is the future. I’m a retired military officer, and colleagues I know who came back from a China visit tell me that China is truly committed to electric use. They subsidize residents’ licensing, registration, charging stations and the “swap shops” which enable people to swap out their depleted batteries in under five minutes. Here in the U.S., we have States that tax EV drivers more, so instead of incentives, we use disincentives.
At age 73, I’m fairly low-tech, but do have a smartphone and am capable of managing my EV, but many young high tech millennials I meet are still reluctant to go “electric”. With solar power, upcoming hydro, and wind power here, EV power will be cleaner than ever.
I kind of laugh at some people’s statements about EVs…it reminds me of what my grandfather told me when he was a young man….many people resisted automobiles because they thought the horse and buggy were better, but eventually they changed. That is how our conversion to electric will likely be. Based on what GM and Toyota have told me, they plan entire conversions in their fleets, and they are following those sentiments up with their new solid-state battery development.
– Bob F.
Additional info about the Chevy Bolt
Manufacturer details by Chevrolet
First peek at the 2021 Chevy Bolt EV by Electrek
2019 Chevy Bolt EV – still charged and ready by Charged Electric Vehicles Magazine
Top 3 Charging Stations: Chevy Bolt by Love To Plug In
Interested in Chevy PHEV options? Check out the Chevy Volt here!
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