A 12 months in the past, a months-long seek for a Bolt EUV lastly ended, and efficiently. Final 12 months, automotive costs have been insane. My native supplier had a couple of Bolts on the lot, however constantly needed $5,000 or extra over MSRP. So, I needed to drive into El Paso on the lookout for offers. It turns on the market was one sitting on the lot ready for a brand new recall battery, and another person had a deposit on it. A day earlier than the battery got here in, the opposite purchaser backed out, as a result of they discovered a Bolt EUV someplace else.
I managed to get the car for fairly near MSRP earlier than the GM $6,300 off and one other $2,000 off for having an Uber driver account. So, I obtained an nearly fully-loaded Premier (solely issues not on it have been Tremendous Cruise and a sunroof) for what bottom-barrel LT Bolts used to go for.
On this article, I’m going to share how this primary 12 months of possession went, and what it most likely means for different upcoming GM EV fashions because the Bolt and EUV go into hiatus for some time.
I truthfully have just one criticism concerning the Bolt EUV that GM might repair, which I’ll get to later within the article.
Aside from my one criticism, I knew what I used to be shopping for, so I knew stepping into that it might solely cost at 50 kW at quick charging stations. I additionally has a really practical concept of what to anticipate on vary, particularly on freeway journeys (it’s by no means going to get near 247 miles of vary going 80 MPH). The car carried out precisely as anticipated on each vary and charging, so I’ve nothing in any respect to complain about on these two most vital EV points.
How The Bolt EUV Exceeded Expectations
For one, I went in anticipating an inexpensive small front-drive crossover expertise, and the Bolt has exceeded my expectations on that. It has a way more inflexible chassis than low-cost gasoline crossovers often have, and that is identified to be as a result of additional rigidity of the battery pack. The suspension isn’t incredible, however performs nicely each on and off-road contemplating that it’s “semi-independent” within the rear. On-road, that is one space the place my 2018 LEAF was higher, however the looser suspension absorbs most of the uncomfortable bumps in delicate off-road driving, such as you’d discover on a Forest Service highway.
Like many front-drive automobiles, it doesn’t have incredible traction for a tough launch, as a result of the load transfers onto the rear wheels, however that was to be anticipated. I believe including airbags to stiffen the rear suspension up a bit would possibly make it really feel a bit of higher taking off, and have much less of a butt-dragging really feel.
The higher steering response in sport mode was additionally a pleasing shock. Many electrical energy steering methods really feel fairly lifeless or numb, however the EUV reduces help energy and offers extra suggestions in sport mode, in order that’s one other space the place it could exceed expectations. It’s additionally price noting that the common Bolt EV doesn’t get a unique steering really feel in sport mode.
One other space the place it exceeded expectations was air con. I’ve had vehicles (particularly my 2018 LEAF) that might begin to falter a bit on the most well liked days. In a gasoline automotive, you may throttle it a bit to hurry the compressor up, however in my LEAF, it might begin letting the cabin warmth up when it couldn’t sustain. However, even in 115-degree desert climate, the Bolt can sit for a few hours at a time and preserve a snug temperature within the cabin. On one event, the AC condenser did get warmth soaked, however the software program was good sufficient to close the AC off for about 20 seconds, kick some followers into extra severe gear, after which restart the compressor quicker, immediately restoring chilly air and luxury.
The Degree 2 charging was one other factor that impressed. It might probably deal with as much as 48 amps at 240 volts (11.5 kW) and I used to be ready to make use of GM’s charging set up credit score, mixed with an area utility incentive, to put in a 48-amp charging circuit for the automotive. On the uncommon event that I come residence from a long term of regional errands with a low battery, I can plug the factor in and be again to 40% inside an hour or two and be capable of run extra native errands.
Lastly, I’m critically impressed with how nicely the traction management system performs on Forest Service and different unmaintained or minimally-maintained dust roads I’ve taken it on.
Early in possession, I used to be driving on the inventory Michelin self-sealing low rolling resistance tires the car got here with. However, seeing how skinny these have been and the way shallow their tread is, I used to be afraid that taking the car out on some tenting journeys would go away me with a popped tire. So, I suffered a roughly 15% vary loss and switched to Michelin Defender LTX M/S truck tires (full disclosure, Michelin was good sufficient to offer me with a set to assessment, however solely after I selected the tire). They’re much more tough to destroy on rocks, have significantly better tread for off-road driving, and I put a full-sized spare (I purchased the wheel and paid for all mounting/balancing prices) within the trunk.
With the additional grip the LTX tires present, the Bolt’s traction management system has taken it up some surprisingly steep climbs on tenting and day journeys. The Bolt’s drive unit solely comes with an open differential, however the traction management system is fairly good at placing a brake on the slipping wheel, permitting the opposite entrance wheel to often seize and pull me up the hill. It’s not proactive like lockers on a 4×4, but it surely nearly at all times will get the job carried out.
The Bolt might most likely use a bit of extra clearance for Forest Service roads, however fastidiously chosen strains and the occasional shifting of a log or rock has at all times let me get to the place I needed to go, though the Bolt wasn’t designed for this in any respect.
My One Criticism
The one factor I believe the Bolt underperformed on is software program, each within the car and on the smartphone app.
Within the car, the one factor that basically makes the infotainment usable is Android Auto (it additionally has Apple CarPlay). More often than not, I simply use Android Auto and don’t use the automotive’s infotainment software program in any respect. Its built-in maps are terrible, it has no EV route navigation software program, and it’s simply typically not very aesthetically pleasing. However, I can get all of that by way of Android Auto, so I’m not crushed.
The smartphone app is fairly horrible, and there’s no substitute for it. I can’t check in with a PIN, and it gained’t let me use a saved password. It’s sluggish and typically fails to hook up with the Bolt. There’s additionally little or no you are able to do with the app apart from test cost ranges and pre-condition the automotive. If GM might solely add one factor, I’d ask them to let me change the EV’s cost restrict from the app, however the software program actually wants fully redone.
What This Means For Potential GM EV Consumers
The Bolt and EUV are each coming towards the top of their manufacturing, and can be unavailable new for some time till GM comes out with a brand new Ultium Bolt. In the event you’re pondering of grabbing one of many final first-generation Bolts, I’d advocate going forward and doing so, however provided that you realize it’s not very quick charging on highway journeys. For an area and regional grocery getter, it’s completely high-quality. I personally highway journey mine, however I’d advocate visiting ABRP’s website and running some simulations earlier than you go purchase one with highway journeys in thoughts so that you aren’t disenchanted.
However, you may also contemplate ready for the Equinox EV, which is meant to start out promoting within the fall. They’ll solely promote higher-spec Equinoxes first, however there’ll ultimately be a front-drive primary one for fairly near what Bolt EUVs bought for, and it ought to have very comparable capabilities. Nonetheless, the Ultium-based Equinox may have a lot quicker Degree 3 charging than the Bolt, so it might be much more nice on highway journeys (particularly as soon as extra charging stations go in).
One other factor the Equinox might be going to do higher is software program. GM is making a seemingly suicidal transfer eliminating Android Auto and CarPlay, however they are saying they’re making a significantly better built-in software program bundle. You’ll undoubtedly need to test on that earlier than pulling the set off within the fall or winter.
General, although, I believe GM is making fairly good EVs, they usually’ll get so much higher as soon as the inexpensive Equinox comes out. I wouldn’t be afraid of shopping for one until a Tesla is in your finances and you want Tesla’s minimalist strategy to car design.
Featured picture and all photographs by Jennifer Sensiba.
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