TEST DRIVE: 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV

CHATHAM, Mass. – Appearances can of course be misleading as the heavily refreshed 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV offers a lot more to the vehicle than just the ability to pass every gas station.

It looks modern, a 5-door subcompact with wheels pushed to the four corners for maximum interior space, complemented by a flat floor; high roof with very large windows all of which translates into the feel of a bigger car.

After a day of driving the Bolt around busy country roads, busy country roads and busy Cape Cod highways in season, I believe this is the perfect vehicle for the couple living here. A week later, my opinion is getting stronger.

The Bolt can move quickly around traffic thanks to the instantaneous acceleration of the electric powertrain; fits in almost any parking lot (including some not-so-obvious ones); bypassing all the gas stations (which seem to get a price increase per gallon every summer); Its 259-mile range is more than enough for any rider on the Cape and is the most affordable EV on the market – enhanced by a $5,900 price reduction!

POWER (ELECTRICITY) TO THE PEOPLE

Chevrolet packs a 200 horsepower permanent magnet electric motor under the front hood that powers the Bolt’s front wheels. Further aided by the motor’s 266 pound-feet of torque, the little Chevy can accelerate to 60 miles per hour in a brisk 6.5 seconds.

Full-bore acceleration will quickly reduce battery charge, as will steady highway speeds, but in general driving, the 2022 Bolt will achieve a range of about 260 miles, well beyond the average daily use of a vehicle user of 30 miles or more.

The 65 kWh lithium-ion battery provides energy and the DC fast charger can regain range of up to 100 miles in 30 minutes. At a 240 volt charger (which is a way to make EV ownership reasonable) up to 39 miles an hour charge is a reasonable expectation, with a full charge coming in under seven hours.

And Chevrolet includes free installation of a 240V NEMA 14-50 outlet (style required for a 240V EV charger) with every purchase of the Bolt (having 240V electrical service in the home/garage is the consumer’s responsibility).

DRIVING ONE PEDAL EASY

Like nearly every EV and hybrid-electric vehicle sold in the United States, the Chevrolet Bolt features regenerative braking as a means to recapture some of the energy that results from slowing the car down.

Driving with one pedal, which means simply reducing the accelerator pedal (I must remember not to call it the gas pedal) starts adding juice back to the battery and slowing down the Bolt. Eventually, the system will stop Bolt completely.

Activating single-pedal drive is accomplished by pressing the button on the console directly behind the Park-Reverse-Neutral-Drive. And unlike some other manufacturers’ systems, Chevrolet’s single-pedal system stays “on” until the driver manually cancels it (so there’s no need to remember to activate it every time the Bolt is restarted).

The amount of regenerative power can be increased with Regen on Demand, controlled by the large paddle on the left side of the steering wheel.

Outback

MANY ADVANCED ITEMS PACKED IN THIS LITTLE PACK

The Bolt 2LT trim that I drive is fully equipped.

The roomy interior may not be as luxurious as some of the luxury rides, but premium amenities and features abound with perforated leather heated seats; heated leather-covered steering wheel; automatic climate control; tilted steering wheel/telescope; wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; 17 inch aluminum wheels; cloud-based navigation, and a 10.2-inch color touchscreen.

Continuing the list of features typically found in more expensive vehicles, the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt features a long list of advanced driver assistance systems within the Chevy Safety Assist umbrella such as:

  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Front pedestrian braking
  • Fixed line assistance with lane departure warning
  • The following distance indicator
  • Front collision warning
  • Intellibeam-auto high beam
  • Rear parking assistance
  • Rear traffic warning
  • Lane change alert with side blind spot warning
  • HD surround vision (360° camera)
Chevrolet Bolt EV 2022

THE KEY IS VERY FRIENDLY

The Bolt’s value proposition is more than an electrician’s cost. The Bolt comes in two trim levels – 1LT, 2LT. For 2022, the 1LT is $32,495, while the 2LT is $35,695 with better equipment.

Chevrolet made two changes for the 2023 model year: adding a bright red to the exterior color palette and lowering the price by $5,900, the same amount being offered as a “cash purchase allowance,” essentially lowering the 2022 price by $5,900.

This all means my fully equipped 2LT (base $35,695), with an optional $595 infotainment package (Bose premium audio system; wireless mobile charging; two USB outlets), adaptive cruise control ($375), cherry red paint ($495) ), the destination fee ($995), has a reviewed price of $32,255.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last two months driving some of the newest electric vehicles. All have been impressive for their technique and design, as being able to achieve certain goals also means certain compromises.

Performance vehicles maximize the power of the electric powertrain but sacrifice some battery range. Sport-utility vehicles take more reach at the expense of driving pleasure.

One thing they all have in common is a price point north of $50,000, which means there’s a demographic that can’t afford these vehicles.

Then there’s the Chevrolet Bolt (and slightly longer – more rear legroom) stablemate Bolt EUV (about $2,000 more expensive). Both cost less than $40,000 for a comprehensively equipped EV, making them much more universally appealing.

And this is not an entry-level stripper car, but a real world, very practical example of modern EV engineering.

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