A Gas2 Reader Offers His Thoughts On The Chevy Bolt


From time to time, our readers submit articles to us about their experiences with electric cars. Last year, two readers offered their opinions on the Chevy Volt. Both were highly favorable. This time, long time Gas2 reader Victor Sasson has submitted his thoughts on the Chevy Bolt. Victor is less than enthusiastic about the car. Please keep in mind that this piece offers his opinions. Gas2 does not endorse them in any way, but you may find them useful if you are considering purchasing or leasing a Chevy Bolt.

chevy bolt

January 28, 2017.

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV has arrived in showrooms, which is great news for the environment. But despite what you may have read elsewhere, the humble, all-electric hatchback doesn’t offer anything close to the refinement or speed of a Tesla. On a short drive in the nation’s capital on Thursday, I heard a lot more mechanical noise from the Bolt’s electric motor and transmission than I’m used to in my 2015 Tesla Model S 60.

And a Chevrolet representative in the front seat couldn’t explain why the Bolt didn’t have Tesla’s automatic regenerative braking — which charges the battery and slows the car when you lift off the accelerator pedal. Only after I checked the Bolt website did I learn you have to pull a steering-wheel paddle or shift the automatic transmission into “Low” for regenerative braking, which will bring the car to a full stop at a light or sign — just like in the all-electric BMW i3.

Acceleration Disappoints

The Bolt I drove and my Tesla are both zero-emission cars and both have a 60 kWh Lithium-ion battery. But when I punched the Chevy’s accelerator pedal from a standing start, the car was noisy and it didn’t leap off the line as does my far heavier Model S. I also noticed some torque steer or pulling on the steering wheel from the front-wheel-drive Bolt.

Of course, the Bolt has an MSRP that is about half of a rear-wheel-drive Tesla Model S 60 ($37,495 v. $71,000), but with the “affordable” Chevy, you get only what you pay for. And a smaller Tesla, the upcoming Model 3, with an MSRP of $35,000 before incentives, looks like it will be a far better value than the Bolt EV.

Right now, the Bolt EV is on sale in California and Oregon. Some Chevy dealers in New Jersey and New York are taking orders this month, with delivery scheduled for March.

Here are some complaints. The Bolt EV’s glove box and interior materials scream “cheap” and “just another econobox.” The cover over a hidden compartment in the hatch area isn’t attached to the car. It might double as a snowboard for a small child. The 5 door Bolt EV has a high roof line, and with the front passenger seat back as far as it would go, I had plenty of legroom while awaiting my turn to drive. One last thing. The Chevy Bolt has no “frunk” or front trunk as all Tesla models do.

Chevy Bolt has no frunk

Chevy Bolt v. Tesla Model 3

The Bolt comes in two trim levels starting at $36,620 (LT) and $41,780 (Premier) before incentives, and both have a range of 238 miles on a full charge, according to the website. Neither comes standard with fast charging capability or such safety features as forward collision alert or low-speed automatic braking. Those features are standard on Teslas as well as on Toyotas and other cars that cost less than the Bolt.

Tesla says its 5-passenger Model 3 sedan, with a starting price of $35,000, will begin production in “mid-2017; have a range of 215 miles on a full charge, and do zero to 60 mph in under 6 seconds. Model 3 also is designed to achieve a 5-star safety rating, the highest possible and the same as in the Model S and Model X. (Editor’s note: The Chevy Bolt has been named a Top Safety Pick by IIHS.)

In addition, Model 3 will be [available] with autonomous driving features found in more expensive Teslas, including Autopilot, Autosteer and Autopark; and 1,000 miles of free charging at Tesla’s proprietary nationwide network of Superchargers. If you take a Bolt on a road trip, Chevy won’t provide any free charging.

The Take Away

Color Victor “unimpressed.”

Photo credits: Victor Sasson

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • bioburner

    WOW I’m in total SHOCK that a $35K car does not have the refinements that your $70K car has.

    • Marc P

      Why does he even mention Tesla in the first place…???

      • bioburner

        Tesla fanboy? This article looks like it was written 6 months ago. Only available in a hand full of states. Come on he is comparing the production version of the Bolt to a fantasy version of the Model 3. Even today the model 3 is not available to the general public for the same level of critical review that the author used for this article.

        • The Model 3 looks, and I am sure will be as sophisticated and probably faster than my Tesla Model S, which has a 60 kWh battery. Yes, I drove the crappy Bolt in late January, when I attended the press preview at the auto show in Washington, D.C.

        • Steve Hanley

          Umm…..actually it WAS written 6 months ago. Says so right at the beginning of Victor’s post.

      • Because in 2015, GM CEO Mary Barra promised the upcoming Chevy Bolt EV would be an affordable, connected vehicle available to everyone, and her remarks were widely interpreted to mean GM was “gunning for Tesla,” as Fortune magazine put it.

        In December 2016, GM delivered the first three Bolts to customers “about 3 miles” from Tesla’s factory.

      • Of course, the Bolt has an MSRP that is about half of a rear-wheel-drive Tesla Model S 60 ($37,495 v. $71,000), but with the “affordable” Chevy, you get only what you pay for. And a smaller Tesla, the upcoming Model 3, with an MSRP of $35,000 before incentives, looks like it will be a far better value than the Bolt EV.

    • Tesla fanboy?

      • bioburner


  • Ed

    I sincerely believe that the GM engineers were asked to design a practical electric car…and they did. However, I also believe that GM leadership made the decision to limit its appeal…effectively making it a compliance car. Keep in mind that GM knew they were positioning the Bolt as a daily-commute-only when they loudly said that they would NOT provide a charging means to let the vehicle go city-to-city. Instead, they said they would rely only on the private companies to build the charging network….knowing full well such companies only build in the metro areas where regular revenue is likely.


    • bioburner

      I can understand why GM is reluctant to build out recharging infrastructure. If they did then any vehicle equipped with CCS could use it. Tesla built their own system that only their customers can use. Big difference.
      I’m thinking the economic reality is that Tesla makes 28% gross margin on each Model S it sells so for say $28,000 profit on each car it sells Tesla can afford to build out a charging network. GM makes what? $4K gross on each Bolt it sells. That gives GM almost nothing in terms of money to build out a DCFC network.

  • kevin mccune

    I believe there is an intentional amount of “dumbing down ” so to speak.

  • Jack B

    what a negative story though not surprising, in America you have a great deal of choice with good incentives from your Federal government State governments and in some cases power companies in the US that are willing to give incentives as well but with all of this there seems to be a steady stream of negativity coming from America all the time .
    In Australia because we have a government with its head in the sand we are years behind America and Europe and have nowhere near the choice you guys have we get the Tesla car here but it starts at around $150,000 because of our government taxes so no one of normal means can afford the Tesla, I have around $50,000 to spend but that will not even by me a BMW i3 as they are around $70,000+ again we get very high taxes but also I think car companies in Australia charge what the market will bear in other words we get ripped off…………………. anyways sick to death of seeing all this negativity would be great to see people be more positive and appreciate what you have. PS even I bloody know that you can have fast charging on the bolt if you pay for it as an extra, I have seen many you Tube clips of people in Europe charging their bolt at fast chargers.

    • Steve Hanley

      Thanks for your input, Jack. I have family who live in Sydney, so I am always interested in the Australian perspective on things. When I was in Sydney earlier this year, I noticed that the average mix of vehicles was more like one expects to see in Europe rather than what one sees in America — lower priced, more efficient, smaller cars.

      Americans are a profligate people, who pride themselves on driving humungous, fuel guzzling cars because, Hey, this is AMERICA and that means we can do any goddam thing we want. It’s in the Constitution, or so they believe.

      The Australian car business is a curiosity, with virtually all domestic auto manufacturing shut down because it is cheaper to build cars elsewhere. That in and of itself suggests some national economic policies are way out of whack.

      I am at a loss to understand Australian politics, but as a resident of Trumpistan, feel I have no cause to feel superior. You do have really great beaches, however, and I can’t wait to visit one of them again soon.


  • Damien

    Summed up quite well, cheap econobox. Never mind Tesla, cars in a similar price range don’t have hard plastics and torsion beam suspension. Also lack of ACC is a big fail.