2019 Bolt EV New Car Test Drive
Electric cars were nothing new when the Chevrolet Bolt EV emerged as a 2017 model, but the new hatchback's long (238-mile) range helped it establish a trend in battery-powered transportation. Only the far more costly Teslas promised a longer range, though competitors are developing models that go farther before recharging is needed.
Except for three new body colors and addition of a standard Tire Fill Alert system, little has changed for the 2019 model year.
Sitting low within the Bolt EV's floor, a large, flat lithium-ion battery, consisting of 288 separate cells, is rated at 60 kwh. The matching electric motor develops 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, driving the front wheels.
Only two trim levels are offered: LT and Premier. Pricing starts around $37,500, including destination charge, but federal and state tax incentives may lower the total substantially.
Each Bolt EV gets a 10.2-inch touchscreen, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Upright, SUV-like seating promises excellent outward visibility, while slightly raised ride height eases entry/exit.
Despite lack of a heavy gasoline engine up front, the Bolt EV has fared reasonably well, though not stellar, in crash-testing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given it a five-star rating overall and for side-impact collision. Frontal crash-testing yielded only a four-star score.
In each crash-test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Bolt EV earned a top “Good” score. Headlights, unfortunately, were deemed “Poor.” With optional automatic emergency braking installed, the Bolt EV was ranked Superior for frontal crash protection.
Each Bolt EV contains a rearview camera, but most active safety features are optional rather than standard. Automatic emergency braking is available only for Premier trim level, and requires the addition of two option packages. The Driver Confidence I package, offered for either trim level, includes blind-spot monitors and rear parking sensors. Only Premier trim can have the Driver Confidence II group, which consists of forward-collision warnings, active lane control, and automatic high-beam headlights, along with the automatic emergency braking.
Nissan's Leaf, in contrast, has a considerably shorter range, but makes active safety technology standard..
Prices do not include $875 destination charge.
LT ($36,620) includes cloth upholstery, 17-inch alloy wheels, HID headlights, LED taillights, automatic climate control, keyless start, an 8.0-inch information display, and the 10.2-inch touchscreen.
An LT convenience package adds heating to front seats and steering wheel. Also optional is a fast-charging port, promising to boost range by 90 miles with a 30-minute charge.
Premier ($40,905) adds leather upholstery, a camera-based rearview mirror, a surround-view camera system, heated front and rear seats, blind-spot monitors, and rear parking sensors. Automatic emergency braking is available only as part of the Driver Confidence II package..