Finally (after 6 months) drove the Bolt!

Chevy Bolt EV Forum

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Well-known member
Nov 18, 2016
Went with a friend to drive a Premium. He loved it, and I think he's buying the one we drove next week. I liked it a lot, but not enough to buy until I've seen the competition later this year. I'd call the Bolt 95% baked. Needs another 5 minutes in the oven. Your opinion may vary.

Seats: No seat discomfort with the leather seats on my 5-minute ride, but I was definitely aware of the bead gently pressing into my thighs (pretty fit and thin here). I think the main reason I noticed it is because I'd read so much about seats. That makes 5 Bolts I've sat in. Two were comfy seats. Three were painful seats. I'd describe the Premium seats as slightly below average in support and quite narrow. I would definitely want to sign out a Bolt for at least a one-hour ride before I put my money down. I'm a seat fanatic. I don't particularly like the seats in my Miata either. I've owned Recaros before, so my seat bar is abnormally high.

Brakes: I had test driven a BMW I3 and Volt previously. I'd describe both GMs as having mushy brakes that I found totally disconcerting. The I3 had rock-solid, highly predictable brakes. I'm sure if the Bolt was your only car, you'd get used to this. On the other hand, I absolutely loved the paddle regen. That was the coolest thing ever. Tech note: I recently learned paddle regen is unavailable when the vehicle is fully charged (where would the electrons go!) - so be aware of that. Brake pedal regen braking can be done right - the Bolt just isn't one of the EVs that does it right (IMHO). Your opinion may vary - we all set the bar at a different height based on our predilections.

Features: We both thought the Premium was pretty solid feature wise. I'd worried about the camera rear view mirror with bifocals. But then we realized you just flip it and it's a conventional mirror. We both liked the blind spot monitoring. We both loved the surround view camera when parking. Nice big screen in the middle. Oh, and the fact that the Bolt can be a wifi hotspot is totally awesome.

Performance: Meh... I floored it and wasn't impressed. I've read so many glowing descriptions of this zippy EV, I was was expecting more. It was adequate. How you define zippy may vary from how I define zippy.

Infotainment: This is just a thing with me personally. I hate gaudy displays, and almost every EV I've seen has to do this gaudy animation thing. We tried all three modes, and none of them were what I would describe as tasteful or well designed or minimalist. I do software GUI for a living, and this display is emblematic of what you get when you have GUI amateurs designing stuff. They need a fourth display mode that's far more restrained. Just my opinion - yours can and should vary. Just give me a black panel with a speedometer and a fuel/range gauge.

Fit and finish: We drove the deep red, and it was a very nice looking car outside (for an economy subcompact hatch). Inside was what I expected for the segment (economy subcompact hatch). Not bad at all. Not something that knocked my socks off either. Seems like a shame to surround that beautiful display screen with an interior that screams "CHEAP".

Interior Space: I sat in the back for the first ride. If you want to be impressed with headroom, sit in the back when two 5'9" guys drive. I was shocked to see 6" of headroom over their heads. In the back, I had 1" of headroom, and tons of leg space. Wouldn't want to be back there for more than a 30 minute drive through town, but it was OK. Nice USB ports in the back of the center console. Seemed like an airy cabin to me (light gray). Hatchback storage was fine for the segment, albeit with a high load floor. Nice flat floor in back, with storage beneath. But I was puzzled about why they didn't make more use of that tall center console for storage cubbies.

Motor Bay: Totally Cool! If I owned a Bolt, I'd always park it with the hood open so everyone could ogle my high-tech stuff. Heck, I might even get a transparent hood so I could ogle it while driving.

Handling: Take this with a grain of salt, because I'm an aggressive driver that rode to the test drive in a Miata. My review probably isn't fair (Miata vs Bolt). I don't know if it's the Bolt's fault, or just generic to front wheel drive vehicles, but I found the handling unsettling. A torque steer sensation when accelerating hard in a turn. Steering is far too boosted. It just felt disconnected from the steering wheel at all times. Again, remember I drive a Miata (hard), so that's probably not a fair comparison. I wager your average driver will love the Bolt handling.

Sales: The sales experience was awesome. This rural dealerships has already sold 4 Bolts sight unseen. The salesman knew and understood the Bolt's features. He was an EV fan. Another salesman drives a Volt. They were enthusiastic about the Bolt. They had a charger on the wall outside the dealership. Excellent sales experience.

Price: Bolts are new to my area, and no discounts yet. But we have a $3,000 state discount. The loaded Premium we saw would cost us about $35,000 after a $10,000 tax credit. If you have to have a long range EV right now, that's a very good price. If you want the best car for money and don't give a whit about saving the planet, you'll be ROTFL.

Obsolescence Factor: I give the current Bolt a high obsolescence factor. Every maker on the planet has BEV fever right now. Using announced vehicles as a yardstick, the BEV market will be absolutely flooded with competition in 2-3 years. So on the TFL scale of buy it, lease it, rent it, I give the Bolt a grade of "lease it".

Overall Grade: 8 out of 10. I'm grading on a curve. As a conventional vehicle, I'd score the Bolt as 4 out of 10 (way too much money for way too little car experience). That score has an expiration date on it - the Bolt gets an 8 in May 2017. A year from now, depending on what the competition brings out, that grade could drop.

Bottom line...

I'd rate the Bolt as an ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT BEV for May 2017, with the qualification that it could be even better with a few tweaks.
ScooterCT said:
But I was puzzled about why they didn't make more use of that tall center console for storage cubbies.

Under the armrest is a shallow tray. But the tray can be removed to reveal a much deeper storage bin.

Also, the USB ports on the back of the console are charge-only, and part of an option package.
Thanks for the info on the storage. I forgot to mention in my review, we were totally impressed that the car can be a wifi hotspot. I'll go add that to the tech section.
ScooterCT said:
Thanks for the info on the storage. I forgot to mention in my review, we were totally impressed that the car can be a wifi hotspot. I'll go add that to the tech section.

The wifi hotspot does require paying for the data service through OnStar (after the initial trial period) -- $20 per month for unlimited or other pricing for limited. OnStar uses AT&T.
Tech note: I recently learned paddle regen is unavailable when the vehicle is NOT fully charged (where would the electrons go!) - so be aware of that.

That "NOT" needs to be removed.
Thanks - you're totally correct. That NOT is exactly the opposite of what should be there. Corrected.
If the seat was loading weight on your legs, you had the seat too high/improperly adjusted for you :mrgreen:

It's not a $100K Tesla and won't be as fast. It's 60K less and it's still pretty quick. I would rather have range over speed and $60K in my pocket.
Nice review. Same overall rating as I gave it. Different reasons of course.

We disagree mostly on performance and handling for which I give it a 10 (adjusted for the kind of car it is)

This is based on the fact that I drive all of my cars HARD and own an MR2 that handles better than your Miata and a modified BMW 335i that goes faster than your Miata and most other cars on the road.

The Bolt accelerates extremely fast and handles very well. There is front wheel understeer common to FWD vehicles and the narrow tires have traction issues if pushed too hard into the corners but the wide wheel base and stiff suspension make up for that.

My only complaint is that the speed limiter is set too low and can't wait for someone to hack the CPU to raise it to at least 105.