2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier

2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier

The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt now offers 259 miles of range on a full charge, up 21 miles from the 2019 model. For now, this gives the Bolt the longest range among similarly priced electric vehicles, beating the range of the Hyundai Kona EV by one whole mile and the Tesla Model 3 by nine miles.

Base Price: $41,020
As Tested: $43,735
Horsepower: 200
Mileage: 127 MPGe city/108 MPGe highway/118 MPGe combined

The Bolt was the first mainstream electric vehicle with a long range (238 miles) when it was introduced in 2016. This was a huge improvement over earlier EVs such as the Nissan Leaf that originally came out in 2010 with a range of 73 miles. (The 2020 Leaf has a range of 226 miles).

The five-passenger 2020 Chevy Bolt is available in two trims:  LT and Premium. Starting prices range from 36,620 to $41,020, which are high for EVs and hybrids.

The Bolt has an electric motor paired with a 66-kWh lithium-ion battery and single-speed transmission that make 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. The Bolt has zippy driving dynamics. It’s quick off the line—it can go from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. The Bolt also corners well with little body lean and there’s plenty of power for passing and merging at freeway speeds. The regenerative braking system is surprisingly smooth for an EV.

Regen on Demand lets you convert kinetic energy into energy stored within the battery for future use. Just pull and hold the Regen on Demand paddle on the steering wheel to decelerate the vehicle and store energy that can be used later.

There are Drive and Low modes. Put the Bolt in Drive mode when you want the handling to feel like a gas-powered vehicle. Set it to Low when you want one-pedal driving that slows the vehicle when you take your foot off the accelerator and charges the battery.

Efficiency is better than many rivals. The EPA rates the Bolt at 127 MPG equivalent city and 108 MPGe equivalent on the highway with a combined rating of 118 MPGe. I got 117 MPGe during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.

The battery gets a full charge in about 10 hours when plugged into a 240-volt outlet, and 30 minutes using DC Fast Charging.

Range anxiety is still a concern for consumers who’re thinking about getting an EV.  Chevy has developed a feature on the myChevrolet app for the Bolt that can help. Just enter your destinations, and it can let you know if your Bolt has enough range to get there and locate chargers along the way.

The interior is pleasant and roomy, and controls are sensibly laid out. My tester has snazzy two-tone seating. However there are some low-rent materials including lots of hard plastics. I’d expect the interior to be a bit nicer at this price point. Passengers enjoy decent leg- and headroom in both rows. Two adults are comfortable in back, but three can fit in a pinch. Unfortunately the seats feel thin and aren’t that comfy on longer drives.

Standard features include remote start, push-button start, rearview camera, cloth upholstery, manually adjustable front seats, automatic climate control, MyLink infotainment system with a 10.2-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio system, satellite radio, Bluetooth, two USB ports, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Wi-Fi hot spot.

Chevy’s Teen Driver safety system is also standard. It lets parents set speed warnings, speed limiters, audio volume limits, and more for their young drivers. The Buckle to Drive feature reminds teens to buckle up before driving. If a driver tries to shift out of park without first buckling the seat belt, the feature won’t allow the driver to shift for 20 seconds and automatically mutes the audio until the driver and front passenger are wearing their seat belts.

The infotainment system’s large touchscreen features colorful graphics and is user-friendly. But it’s not always quick to respond to voice or touch commands. Physical controls for routine functions such as volume, tuning and climate are easy to reach. Navigation is not available but it’s easy to use our smartphones for that.

Available features include leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, seven-speaker Bose premium audio system, wireless device charging, two rear USB ports, HD Surround Vision, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rearview camera mirror and automatic high-beam headlights.

Available driver assistance technologies include blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, rear cross traffic alert and rear parking sensors.

The Bolt has more room for cargo than many other EVs and hybrids. There are 17 cubic feet in the hatch with both rows in place and 56.6 cubes with the second row folded. 60/40-split-folding rear seats are standard. The Limited trim has a handy adjustable cargo floor. You can either hide cargo below it or remove it to provide more space for larger items.

There are now several mass-market EVs with ranges of more than 220 miles including the Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia Niro and Nissan Leaf. You’ll want to check them out

The good:

Lively performance

Has more range than other mass market EVs

Better than average efficiency for the class

Lots of standard and available features and tech

User-friendly infotainment system with large screen

Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

The not-so-good:

Low-rent interior

More expensive than some competitors

Infotainment system can be slow to respond to commands

Pricing info:

My tester starts at $41,020. DC fast charging provisions are $750. The Infotainment Package is $595 and adds wireless device charging, Bose Premium seven-speaker system, and rear USB charge-only ports. The Driver Confidence II Package is $495 and includes Intellibeam headlamps, following distance indicator, forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking and front pedestrian braking. Destination charge is $875 bringing the grand total to $43,735.

Bottom line:

The greater range should make the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt more attractive to would-be buyers, and its lively performance, roomy cabin, long list of standard features, and hatchback body style are plusses. But the low-end cabin and relatively high starting price may make some look elsewhere. Still, it’s great to see the Bolt and other mainstream EVs with ranges of more than 200 miles so drivers can use them for more than just short commutes.

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