When I had the chance a few years ago to drive the 2020 Chevy Bolt, I really enjoyed it quite a bit, naming it one of my favorite cars. Here’s my writeup if you want to get the full scoop: One of My Favorite Cars: The 2020 Chevy Bolt EV. The problem with the Bolt EV is that it’s pretty small. Not quite SmartCar small, but still, quite cozy even compared to my Mazda CX-5.
It’s no wonder I was psyched when Chevrolet reached out with a loaner of the 2022 Chevy Bolt EUV, the “SUV” of their EV lineup. Bigger and more comfortable than the EV it also had two years worth of additional EV tech and improvements. Enter the 2022 Chevy Bolt EUV Premier in Gray Ghost Metallic:
It is indeed roomier – though still cozy, as I’ll talk about in a bit – and the styling has definitely improved, with a faux front grill very reminiscent of the Chevy Mustang EV. More importantly, it’s still ridiculously fun to drive and with its one-pedal driving mode, a reasonably cautious driver can control both acceleration and decelleration with the gas pedal. (okay, it’s not a gas pedal in an EV, but you know what I mean!)
While all EVs have a peppy response to acceleration, Chevy has clearly tuned the Bolt to be slower on the uptake to conserve power. The 2022 BMW I4 M50 EV that I drove a few weeks ago? Maybe 100x the acceleration, so much so that from a stop, the BMW offered a distinctly visceral “oh hell yeah!” acceleration, whereas the Bolt is “okay, we’re able to get up to speed pretty darn quickly. Very nice.” To be fair, the Bolt’s acceleration is great for a small vehicle and is way faster than my Mazda with its internal combustion engine. Otherwise the Bolt EUV offers a very comfortable ride and a sufficiently quiet cabin that the driver and passenger can easily have a conversation even at highway speeds (EV engines are quite a bit quieter than internal combustion).
Dashboard layout is pretty typical for Chevrolet, particularly in this more budget category:
The infotainment system features a big, bright 10.2″ display with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In fact, the steering wheel controls are button-for-button identical to that on the monster GMC Sierra 1500 truck I drove a few weeks ago, which seemed a bit amusing given that they exist at almost complete opposite ends of the vehiclular continuum.
Since gear shifts have mostly gone the way of the dodo, I rarely expect to find a shifter by my right knee. Instead, the Bolt utilizes a column of buttons, as you can see in this close-up:
The green button at the bottom allows you to enable or disable the one-pedal driving mode. I had it on all the time, it’s super fun, making the drive experience a bit like a go-kart with its great responsiveness! With an automatic, the only time the driver changes gears is when they’re parking or turning off the vehicle, so this shift design worked just fine.
Where things get interesting is on the main gauge display, since it shows remaining charge, range, and current power utilization:
In this instance, I had about a 50% charge, which worst case could take me 104 miles and best case, with some careful driving, 151 miles. You can see them on the left indicator. On the right it shows that the 64mph speed is consuming 11kW/hr of power. EVs, of course, don’t have mpg ratings, but their equivalent is kilowatts/hour: Take total battery capacity divided by kW/h power needs and you can calculate range. The rated range for the 2022 Chevy Bolt EUV is about 247 miles.
The gauge can go into a simpler mode if you prefer something that doesn’t show that kW/h number (though I’m not sure why you would):
Notice on the right that it shows acceleration and braking, instead of power and regen. You can’t really drive an electric vehicle without being aware of charge and battery, because getting energy isn’t as simple as pulling into a gas station and adding some fuel from a pump. Fortunately, they hooked me up with ChargePoint, which has tens of thousands of level-2 charging stations around the United States. Charging is surprisingly easy with the keyfob card: Swipe it at the charging station, which logs you in and unlocks the charger, then insert it into the EV port:
Since everything locks down, I found myself pulling into ChargePoint stations, plugging in, then locking the vehicle and walking away for hours while it charged. Very cool and most of the stations in my area were free to use other than a $0.99 usage fee, so I was basically charging up for free!
But oh, that charge speed.
If there’s an Achille’s Heel to the fun Bolt is that it charges really slowly. With a level-1 charger (110V at home) it added about 11mi/hr to the battery charge, meaning that a full charge would take more than 24 hours. Okay, so a level-2 charger like the ChargePoint should be better, right? Well, I saw about 25mi/hr on the Level-2 charger (like in the above photo). There are some compatible Level-3 fast chargers, but I didn’t have a chance to use one. Those, I am told, charge quite a bit faster. Still, we can do the math. If I wanted to drive from Denver, Colorado to Kansas City, Missouri, it’s about 500 miles. Starting with a full charge, I’d have to stop half-way and if I could find a level-2 charger, basically charge overnight to be able to make it to my destination. The Tesla superchargers are much better in that regard, but the Bolt isn’t designed to work with them and has a fairly limited EV charging plug compatibility:
In fact, the Bolt is well known as one of the slowest charging EVs on the market, which is probably not a big deal if you aren’t planning any road trips (that’s why I referred to it in the title of this article as “a great commuter car”), but if you routinely drive 300+ miles in a day, this is probably not the car for you. Teslas, by comparison, charge about 5x faster, meaning that adding another 200 miles of range would take about 30-45 minutes (if I did my math right). A show-stopper? No. But definitely something to know before you decide to acquire a Bolt EUV for yourself.
Which is too darn bad because there really is so much to like about the 2022 Bolt. It’s hard to understand why Chevrolet hasn’t just completely revamped the Bolt EV system to address this problem, but if you just need a vehicle to take the kids to school then head to the office for the day, it’s not really a problem, is it?
By the way, one of the many displays on the infotainment system lets you see your average miles per kWatt/hour: On average I was seeing about 4 1/2 miles per kW/h, with a best drive of almost 12 miles per kW/hr and a worst case of 3 miles per kW/hr:
I have no doubt that more time behind the wheel would allow me to improve my driving technique and edge that up a bit, and wouldn’t be surprised to find that expert Bolt drivers can squeeze much more than 4 1/2 miles per kW/hr from their own vehicles as an average efficiency stat.
I’ve also gotta admit that the nerd inside really loves all of these stats and analytics. It’s just so different from an internal combustion engine, and yet, it’s still mostly about how you accelerate from a stop to get the best range per charge. Oh, and the charging cable has its own secret compartment in the very back of the vehicle:
Not only is it a pretty cool charger (nicer than the BMW unit!) but if you do buy a Bolt then Chevy will pay for you to get a level-2 charger at home so you can keep it all charged up and ready to go at all times. Not a bad deal.
Now, let’s get back to the overall size of the vehicle, because while the EUV is definitely bigger than the EV, it’s still a pretty darn compact vehicle:
I found that sitting in the back with the door closed, it was my upper torso that felt a bit squished, actually: The Bolt EUV still feels narrow, but then again, compared to a behemoth like the GMC Sierra 1500 truck, it is far smaller. If this is for you and the kids, no worries, but if you plan on shunting about with a couple of big adults, you might want to test fit everyone into a demo vehicle before you decide it’s going to work out.
That’s about all I have on this vehicle. On balance, I still really like the 2022 Chevy Bolt EUV, and I’ll keep it on the top of my favorite cars list. Yes, it has a shorter range and woefully slow charging, but as a commuter car to cruise around town and get the kids to school and soccer practice, it’s terrific, and so fun to drive. If you’re in the market for a compact SUV size and want to move into the EV world, this might well be your favorite choice. Check it out.
CONFIGURATION: 2022 Bolt EUV Premier in Gray Ghost Metallic, with Dark Ash Gray / Sky interior. MSRP: $37,500. Options included Sun & Sound Package and Super Cruise Package. AS DRIVEN: $43,190. [note: Check your local dealer for tax incentives and other promotions to help offset the cost]
Disclosure: Chevrolet loaned me the Bolt EUV for almost two weeks in return for this writeup. Thanks a bunch, Chevy!