WRITER’S NOTE: This is part two of the Ride Me vehicle-review column featuring the 2018 Chevy Bolt EV Premier. Click here to read part one, “To Live and Die in the Arizona Desert in a 2018 Chevy Bolt EV Premier.”
Having just tested a performance brand’s electric car that costs $10,000 more, I was expecting to be underwhelmed by the 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier.
Moments after slipping into the driver’s seat, I had the complete opposite reaction. I was overwhelmed.
First of all, the Bolt felt roomier than the pricier ride, although I never confirmed my suspicions with a measuring tape.
All the levers, buttons and adjusters were in driver-intuitive places, or at least they were intuitive to this particular driver. Nothing rattles me more when I first drive a new car than reaching over to push a button to find it is not there but in a completely different place. Imagine if that happened with the brakes!
Of course, the most important thing is the drive, and the Bolt certainly did not disappoint when compared to that EV that cost 10 grand more.
The electric drive unit pushed out adequate power when I needed it to get up hills or onto freeways, while braking, coasting downhill or joining stop-and-go traffic actually added more juice to the battery. The parking brake and power steering are also electric, and precision shifting is electronic.
I was so blown away that early in my test ride I pulled over, got out and took another hard look at the thing.
That’s when it struck me: This Bolt is a looker, although, truth be told, I also realized I am a sucker for a “Kinetic Blue Metallic” paint job (which is a $350 upgrade on this particular car).
But it was more than that. Near as I can figure it was something to do with the Kinetic Blue Metallic being offset by the glass and chrome headlamps wrapped in orange reflectors, the 17-inch, ultra-bright, machined-painted aluminum wheels and the gold-wrapped-in chrome Chevy emblem against a curved black panel below the hood. All I know is, it’s a looker.
Way back in the Wild West days of the EVs, the cars would be stripped down to near nothing inside to keep them lighter. Besides, demand was not high for them, so what would be the point?
When demand became keen a few gas crises ago, automakers overloaded EVs and hybrids with extras because people wanted them so much they’d dole out more.
One thing I appreciated about my test Bolt is many items that would have been options in the not-too-distant past are standard. This includes the Chevrolet MyLink audio system with a 10.2-inch diagonal touchscreen and Bluetooth, Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity.
From that screen you can also access subscription services to OnStar and a 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot and SiriusXM satellite radio, which is complimentary for the first three months you own or lease the vehicle.
The standard audio system has six speakers, but my particular test model included a $485 infotainment Package that includes seven premium Bose speakers as well as wireless device charging and a USB charging port in the rear. There are standard USB ports up front, of course.
Other standard features include keyless entry and starting, remote starting, six-way adjustable front bucket seats, heated and leather-appointed seats throughout, leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic air conditioning, power winds with express down (and driver express up) and, also for the driver, a separate, multi-color, 8-inch screen that displays driving information.
There is a false cargo floor in the back for extra storage; it’s also the natural place to keep the 120-volt charging cord. A mid-afternoon extending into nighttime trip from Costa Mesa to downtown Los Angeles used up a lot of battery juice, but after plugging into a standard household outlet in my garage around 10 p.m., the Bolt was back up to full charge by the time I left for work at 9 the next morning.
Standard exterior features include the aforementioned wheels, all-season and puncture-sealing blackwall tires, heated and power-adjustable outside mirrors (with turn signal indicators), LED daytime running lights and a roof rack with side rails. The HID projection headlamps have automatic on/off controls.
Safety features, which also come standard, include an array of air bags, including one for the driver’s knees and seat-mounted for all, tire-pressure monitor, theft-deterrent system, Stabilitrak stability control system with traction control, four-wheel disc, anti-lock brakes, rear and surround-vision cameras, dimming rearview mirror, rear-park assist, rear child seat lock anchors and lane-change, side blind-zone and rear cross-traffic alerts.
Besides the paint and infotainment options, my test ride included $750 DC fast charging provisions and a $495 Driver Confidence II package that includes Intellibeam automatic high-beam headlamps, a following distance indicator, forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, low-speed forward automatic braking and front pedestrian detection/braking.
Without the options, this Bolt came in at $40,905. The $2,125 of options, along with the $875 destination charge, pushed the price up to $43,905.
However, state and federal rebates for EV ownership can total as much as $10,000.
Then there is the fuel economy. Electric vehicles do not run on gas, but the government comes up with a miles per gallon equivalency for comparison purposes. This Bolt comes in at 128 mpg in the city, 110 mpg on the highway and a combined 119 mpg, according to fueleconomy.gov.
It uses 28 kilowatt hours per 100 miles and has 238 miles of range on a full charge, which at 240 volts can be achieved in 9.3 hours, adds fueleconomy.gov, which calculates you save $4,000 in fuel costs over five years when compared to the average new vehicles. What you are really saving is the environment, as the Bolt scored 10s on 1-10 scales (10 being best) for smog and fuel economy and greenhouse gas rankings.
The Bolt is covered by Chevrolet Complete Care that includes two maintenance visits with rotations of all four tires and 27-point inspections. Warranties are bumper-to-bumper (three years or 36,000 miles), limited powertrain (five years or 60,000 miles) and electric propulsion component (eight years or 100,000 miles), with roadside assistance and courtesy transportation at the service center.
If your driving pattern is like mine (office is less than 10 miles away and weekend are mostly spent bouncing around town), snagging a Bolt is a no brainer. If you can manage to charge it from a home battery fed with juice from solar panels on your roof, it’ll almost be like someone’s paying you to drive it.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.