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- Highs Instantaneous acceleration, long driving range, roomy interior.
- Lows Disappointing cabin quality, priciest trim has best features, stubby dimensions.
- Verdict A versatile electric vehicle that most people can afford.
The 2020 Chevy Bolt is an all-electric hatchback with a long driving range, spacious cabin, and affordable price tag. Capable of traveling up to 259 miles on a single charge and starting at less than $40,000, the Bolt attempts to make EVs more accessible to everyone. Its electric motor provides almost-instant acceleration, and the Chevy hatchback is truly fun to drive. An affordable fast-charging option and an innovative regenerative-braking paddle also enhance the user experience. Likewise, people will appreciate its roomy accommodations, available infotainment and driver-assistance technologies, and crossover-like cargo capacity. While everyone won't be enchanted by the 2020 Bolt's staid looks and cheap interior, they'll likely appreciate everything else it offers.
What's New for 2020?
For 2020, Chevy increases the Bolt's driving range from 238 miles to 259. Of course, that number is an estimate from the experts over at the EPA. Its extended all-electric driving range also puts the Chevy ahead of electrified rivals such as the Hyundai Ioniq, the Kia Soul EV and Kona Electric, and the Standard Range Plus version of the Tesla Model 3.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The Chevy Bolt's base price starts at $37,495 for the LT model. The fancier Premier model adds more desirable features (including wireless phone charging, two more USB ports, and an upgraded Bose audio system) but it costs $4400 more. While the Premier has other exclusive content such as ambient interior lighting, leather seats, heated rear seats, and more, they don't justify the added cost. We'd stick with the more affordable LT trim, which is still stocked with standard features. We'd also add the $555 Comfort and Convenience package (heated front seats, heated steering wheel, leather-wrapped steering wheel) and the $495 Driver Confidence package (blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear parking sensors).
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EV Motor, Power, and Performance
The Bolt's electric motor provides instantaneous response to accelerator inputs and ample low-end torque that lets you scoot ahead when the light turns green. Responses are less immediate at highway speeds, but the electric Chevy still makes passing and merging on the highway a cinch. With a composed ride and plenty of power, the Bolt will challenge whatever negative preconceptions you might have of electric vehicles. It rides without introducing harsh impacts into the cabin. Steering is quick and accurate, but we'd prefer more feedback from the road. The brake pedal is firm and provides above-average stopping power, but the regenerative braking system that recharges the battery when you lift off the accelerator means you can drive in most scenarios without ever touching the brake pedal. A paddle on the left side of the steering wheel allows for increased on-demand regenerative braking and can stop the car completely.
Range, Charging, and Battery Life
While it takes about 10 hours to fully charge the Bolt's battery using a 240-volt outlet, the fast-charging option can add roughly 100 miles of range every 30 minutes when using a Level 3 charging station. The 2020 Bolt boasts an EPA-rated range of 259 miles (versus the previous 238 miles) on a full charge—competitive with other similarly priced electric vehicles such as the Hyundai Kona Electric. While the Tesla Model 3 Long Range can travel up to 330 miles on one charge, it costs considerably more.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPGe
While we haven't tested the updated 2020 Bolt on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy route, the last version we evaluated achieved 102 MPGe in our real-world test, giving an expected highway range of 180 miles. Since our test includes only highway driving, expect significantly more range if you stick to lower speeds around town. In other tests of Bolts we've found that, in mixed driving, we had no problem achieving the EPA's estimated range in the real world.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Although spacious and practical, the Bolt's interior quality and appearance don't befit its $30,000-plus price point. Hard plastics abound inside, although Chevy added some interestingly textured materials to spice up the dashboard. At least the digital displays in the instrument cluster and central touchscreen look crisp and modern. Power-adjustable seats are not available. Generous front and rear passenger space make the Bolt very comfortable for four and even decently spacious for five. The Bolt is nearly as practical as an average-size small crossover, with enough cargo space to hold five carry-on bags behind the rear seat. There's a useful compartment directly behind the electronic shifter that's perfectly sized for a smartphone, and the center console is generously proportioned.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Its large central touchscreen is well organized and easy to operate, but it isn't as quick to respond to user inputs as we'd like. Built-in navigation isn't available in the Bolt. You'll have to rely on your smartphone for directions; luckily, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability is standard. Several useful EV-specific menus allow you to delve deeply into information such as battery-energy usage and remaining range.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
The 2020 Bolt earned a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but it wasn't named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The all-electric hatchback is also available with driver-assistance technology such as automatic high-beam headlights and rear parking sensors. Other key safety features include:
- Available forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
As with most hybrids and EVs, Chevrolet provides extra coverage for some of the Bolt's electric-powertrain components. Chevy also includes the first maintenance visit for free, but overall coverage doesn't come close to that of the electrified Kia Soul.
- Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- Hybrid components are covered for 8 years or 100,000 miles
- Complimentary scheduled maintenance covers one maintenance visit
2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV
front-motor, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
PRICE AS TESTED
$43,735 (base price: $37,495)
permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor
200 hp @ 4750 rpm
266 lb-ft @ 0 rpm
liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 66.0 kWh
single-speed direct drive
Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 10.9-in vented disc/10.4-in disc
Tires: Michelin Energy Saver A/S Selfseal, 215/50R-17 91H M+S TPC
Wheelbase: 102.4 in
Length: 164.0 in
Width: 69.5 in
Height: 62.8 in
Passenger volume: 94 ft3
Cargo volume: 17 ft3
Curb weight: 3585 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
Rollout, 1 ft: 0.3 sec
60 mph: 6.7 sec
90 mph: 13.9 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 6.7 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.5 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.7 sec
¼-mile: 15.2 sec @ 92 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 93 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 191 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.79 g
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 118/127/108 MPGe
Range: 259 miles