The past few years have seen the arrival of several new contenders to the “affordable” EV segment with cars like the BMW i3, Hyundai Kona EV, Hyundai Ioniq EV, Kia Niro EV, Mini Cooper SE EV, and even the Tesla Model 3. The incumbent EVs have seen their share of changes as well, with Nissan updating the long-running Leaf with a more extended range model.
Not content to stand by and let the competition get the upper hand, Chevrolet has updated the segment-defining Bolt for 2020 with some useful upgrades all around.
The biggest concern of any EV buyer is range and charge time. For 2020, the wizards at GM have managed to tweak the Chevy Bolt battery technology to squeeze an extra 6 kWh of capacity out of it. That means a total of 66 kWh capacity, giving the Bolt an additional 21 miles of range without changing the physical size of the battery pack. The increased battery capacity provides the 2020 Chevy Bolt an estimated range of 259 miles, which bests all the competitors, as mentioned earlier in the segment. The next closest is the Hyundai Kona EV, with an estimated range of 258 miles. The Tesla Model 3 Standard comes in at an estimated 250 miles and the Nissan Leaf Plus at 226 miles.
As I’ve mentioned with other EVs, a 240v power outlet is necessary to get the most out of the EV ownership experience. A 240v charger will take the Bolt from a nearly depleted battery to a full charge in a respectable 10 hours. For comparison, the Nissan Leaf Plus charges from empty to full in about 11.5 hours but has a lower range. The 120v charger is far slower, charging the Bolt at approximately 4 miles of range per hour of charge. Do the math, and that’s not practical for long-term EV ownership.
The 2020 Chevy Bolt benefits from some minor updates in other areas beyond the battery. The front of the Bolt wears a new grille and gains new HD surround-view cameras. The 2020 Bolt also features the second-generation frameless full-display mirror, which projects an unobstructed view from the rear of the Bolt on the rearview mirror in the cabin. While this is trick technology, I honestly could not get used to the low refresh rate of the screen and opted to use the traditional rearview mirror mode.
Driving the 2020 Bolt
While the 2020 Bolt doesn’t have the neck-snapping acceleration of a Porsche Taycan Turbo, the modest Bolt is surprisingly quick. The 200-horsepower and 266lb-ft of torque are good for a 0-60 time in the 6.5-second range and never falls off until the foot lets up on the accelerator pedal. 6.5-seconds might not seem quick on paper, but trust me, the Bolt *feels* great in day-to-day driving.
The Bolt’s handling is as expected from a car in this class. It’s small and easily maneuverable on tight city roads and parking garages. Don’t expect hot hatch handling, however. The Bolt is designed for maximum efficiency rather than performance.
A Techy, Nerdy Interior
The interior of the 2020 Chevy Bolt is a mix of hard, textured plastic surfaces and modern looking seat materials which say high-tech more than they say comfort. The contrasting colors and design of the dashboard add to that high-tech feel and gives the Bolt interior some visual interest. Seats are reasonably comfortable with an upright seating position, and all controls are well laid out and easy to reach.
Front and center in the Bolt’s center stack is a bright and crisp 10.2-inch touchscreen display that serves as the Bolt’s control hub. Menus are logical and easy to navigate. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality are standard. Our Bolt Premier tester included the Infotainment Package, which featured an adequate seven-speaker stereo, wireless charging (if your phone will fit in the charger), and two back-seat USB ports. As mentioned before, the 2020 Bolt receives high-definition cameras for surround-view and rearview functions.
Our 2020 Bolt Premier tester included the very well priced $495 Driver Confidence II package, which includes Intellibeam headlamps, forward collision alert with following distance assist, lane keep assist, lane departure assist, and automatic emergency braking functionality.
The Bolt has room for up to 16.9 cubic feet of cargo in the hatch with the rear seats folded up, and 56 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats folded down. There’s also a trick hidden storage space under the rear floor to hide anything valuable from prying eyes.
Chevy has done well with the updated Bolt. Bolt now has the most range in its segment and is quite enjoyable to drive. The interior might be too quirky for some, but the Bolt is subjectively more attractive inside and out than the competition.
EV shoppers would do well to try out the updated Bolt and see if it is for them. It’s a very compelling product, and probably the affordable EV I would put my own money on. Hats off to GM for building such a great car, and hats off to GM engineers for squeezing an extra 21 miles out of the battery.
2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
Base Price – $41,020 + $875 dest. charge.
Price as-Tested – $43,735 (incl. $875 dest. charge)
Warranty – 3 Year/36,000 Miles Bumper-To-Bumper with roadside assistance. 8 Year/100,000 mile electric propulsion system warranty
EPA Fuel Economy Rating: 118 MPGe
EPA Estimated Range: 259 miles
The vehicle provided to Speed:Sport:Life by Chevrolet for review
Some Photos courtesy Chevrolet