Thursday, 30 December 2021 05:40

Chevrolet Bolt EUV First Test: An Electric Crossover for the Rest of Us

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Chevrolet Bolt EUV First Test: An Electric Crossover for the Rest of Us Chevrolet Bolt EUV First Test: An Electric Crossover for the Rest of Us

The every-person’s crossover EV has its strengths, but could still use refinement.

When Chevrolet first introduced the Bolt EV, it sent shockwaves through the automotive industry as the first properly affordable mainstream electric car. More than half a decade later, Chevy has taken its award-winning hatchback  and spun off a second model, the stretched Bolt EUV crossover. We put the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV to the test to see if it could recapture the original's magic.

Disappointing Dynamics 

At a glance the Bolt EUV doesn't look all that different from its smaller sibling, though it drives like an entirely different vehicle. It wears a similar grille and retains the Bolt EV's egglike styling. However, the 2022 Chevy Bolt EUV is 0.2 inch taller and wider and 6.3 inches longer than the regular Bolt. It's 90 pounds heavier, too.

The Bolt EUV develops 200 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque, which it sends through the front wheels. Range is 247 miles on a full charge, 12 miles less than the Bolt EV. Chevy claims the Bolt EUV can regain 95 miles of range in 30 minutes depending on how much charge is already in its 65-kWh battery, which seemed to be a realistic assertion based on our lunchtime top-off after three laps of our Car of the Year test loop.

Although the Bolt EUV's throttle mapping is good, it's easy to roast the tires at a whim, as its economy-minded rubber provides little grip off the line or even at moderate speeds if the driver dabs the accelerator too hard. We managed a 0-60-mph sprint of 6.7 seconds, which is quick but not as quick as the car feels from the driver's seat. Brake pedal tuning is excellent for an electric vehicle, as it feels completely natural and predictable. However, despite having a lot of the ingredients that make a car fun to drive, they don't come together in a cohesive way.

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On our test route, we found the Bolt EUV to have substandard body control and rough suspension tuning. In fact, the rear torsion bar banged so hard over train tracks that it sounded like something broke (it didn't). "This was one of the most poorly behaved vehicles driven over these surfaces," MotorTrend technical director Frank Markus said. "Lots of harshness, lots of bottoming and topping of the suspension." It's not all bad news, however, as the Chevy's steering stood out as one of the car's best aspects; it offered good engagement and ample feedback.

On open stretches of highway and around town, the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV was a bit more pleasant due to its low-end torque and excellent battery-regeneration features. The EV offers one-pedal driving with the push of a button, allowing it to use regenerative braking. It's a remarkably intuitive system and brings the Bolt EUV down from speed with firm stopping power without jarring the vehicle's occupants. The neat regeneration paddle on the steering wheel is still present, allowing for firm but controlled deceleration that feeds electricity back into the battery. Although it's not the most entertaining car to drive on back roads, these features are as amusing as they are useful.

Creature Comforts

The interior, though an improvement over the original Bolt EV's cockpit in terms of materials and layout, still feels at least half a decade old. It also looks like it's at least half a generation older than the other electric crossovers it competes with. That's because of Chevy's pervasive use of hard plastics throughout the cabin, though our test car featured sweet-looking blue seats and door pocket inserts that made it appear a bit more premium. Ventilated seats were also a huge win, seeing as we conducted our testing under the hot desert sun.

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There's plenty of space up front with 44.3 inches of legroom, and most rear passengers will have room to stretch out a bit with 39.2 inches. Although the Bolt EUV is a wagonoid crossover, its trunk space is limited with just 16.3 cubic feet of capacity behind the rear seats. That's pitiful compared to the Ford Mustang Mach-E's 29.7 cubes. Chevy makes the storage area a bit more flexible with a removable floorboard, but it helps demonstrate this vehicle is more of a spruced-up hatchback than a full-on crossover.

Is The Bolt EUV Safe?

Although the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV isn't the sleekest package, it comes equipped with an impressive suite of driver assistance features, including automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, lane keeping assist with lane departure warning, following distance indicator, automatic high-beams, and front pedestrian braking.

GM's Super Cruise semi-autonomous system, an available feature on the Bolt EUV, came equipped on our test car. It's the first Chevy to offer this system; the package costs $2,200 and adds hands-free driving on roads included within GM's software. We've been impressed with Super Cruise before, and it continues to work exceptionally well on the Bolt EUV. The car kept its place in the lane without error so long as there were lines on either side of the vehicle, and it controlled its speed well and hustled up the hills on our test route without slowing down. Buyers shopping for a mainstream EV with a system that bests Tesla's Autopilot may want to consider purchasing the Bolt EUV with Super Cruise.

Tech Talk

Chevrolet did a great job integrating the 10.2-inch infotainment display into the center stack. The Infotainment 3 Plus with Navigation is easy to operate and quick to respond to inputs. It isn't standard; however, it comes as part of the $2,495 Sun and Sound package, which also adds a Bose seven-speaker audio system and a sunroof.

The front USB ports are difficult to access; they're wedged deep in the cellphone cubby. It's tough to dig a mobile device out of the compartment, too, leading to some awkward maneuvering in the cabin when it's time to hop out of the car. There isn't much going on in terms of tech in the back seat; passengers have access to just one USB-A and one USB-C port.

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Pricing And Value

At an as-tested price of $43,685, this 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV Premier jolted us with sticker shock. That's $5,190 more than the Premier trim package and $9,690 above the EUV's $33,995 base price. Chevy is asking a lot of money for a new model that feels a lot more like a refreshed 5-year-old car, but we concede the entry-level model represents a much better deal than the example we evaluated here.

Simply put, where the Chevy Bolt once stood out as an isolated example of a well-executed and affordable EV, the EUV model lacks the polish we now expect from an electric car. During our SUV of the Year testing, the Bolt EUV had below-average range compared to the other EVs we tested, and our judges were unimpressed by its handling and ride composition. Prospective buyers might want to opt for a lesser trim level to improve the bang-for-buck ratio.

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The Verdict

Chevrolet should have taken extra measures to button up this new model, a vehicle that represents the company's next step toward total electrification. The 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV would have been a spectacular car five years ago, but EVs have progressed so much that this represents a mid-segment offering at best. For many, it will deliver ample capability for daily driving, but shoppers should consider other "every-person" electric crossovers such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Volkswagen ID4, as well, for more modern approaches to mainstream EVs.


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