2017 Chevrolet Bolt: Monthly Update for April 2017
by Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
Given the range of our 2017 Chevrolet Bolt, "where we drove it" usually pans out to "around town." We haven't yet taken the Bolt on an extensive road trip because, well, that's not quite the car's forte. But with some judicious planning, maybe we can make a Bay Area run. With a well-timed stop to top up, Vegas shouldn't be a problem either.
But even our "around town" driving tallies up plenty of miles on the Bolt and also underscores the utility of an EV with 250-ish miles of range. Vehicle Testing Assistant Mike Massey drove it from Los Angeles' northern valley hinterlands to the middle of coastal Orange County and back on little more than half the Bolt's range and a brief charge on a 240-volt "pump" during dinner. Director of Vehicle Testing Dan Edmunds drove it around the Inland Empire, stopping to charge up at the BMW Training Center (note the irony of a Chevy topping up in the home of the i3).
In all, we put about 1,350 miles on the Bolt in April, a good month for any car in our fleet, regardless of powertrain. We recorded our best range so far — 248.6 miles — early in the month, backed by a 240.2-mile run a couple of weeks later.
Maintenance and Upkeep
"The Bolt's extensive range can lull you into thinking it's just another car. After driving it around for much of the weekend, I forgot to top it off before I took it to the airport. I had enough range to get me there, but I wasn't sure there'd be enough to get back home. When I returned after a couple of days, the charge was the same as when I left it and looked to be enough to get home.
"I pedaled it lightly in heavy traffic and barely used any charge for the first part of my trip. Then traffic opened up and I started using more juice to keep up. I was a few miles from home, on surface streets, when the range meter changed from '18 miles' to 'Low' and switched to a 'Reduced Propulsion' mode. About a mile from home, the range meter starting flashing 'Low.'
"I made it home and stuck the Bolt on my Level 2 charger. It took 10 hours and 25 minutes to fill the battery. The total trip on the previous charge was 248.6 miles. Not bad, considering that most of the time I drove the Bolt like any other car. I learned that it pays to keep it topped off and that high speeds are the enemy when you're trying to conserve power. I'm sure it had more juice left than I thought, but I was glad to make it home when I did." — Ed Hellwig, senior editor
"I unplugged from a DC fast charger in Valencia with 145 miles of range and headed to Newport Beach for a birthday party, about an 85-mile drive. Through one 50-mile stretch of traffic, I only used 20 miles of range due to the Bolt's regenerative braking. I charged again for 1.5 hours during dinner on a 240-volt charger, then headed back to Valencia. I made it to the same DC fast charger the next morning with 13 miles of range remaining, truly testing the limits of the Bolt's range. Range anxiety may be a thing of the past, provided the charging infrastructure is in place." — Mike Massey, vehicle testing assistant
"I put 240 miles on a single charge. That exceeds Chevy's claim and shames the range we've seen on our Model X. But it was a real-world L.A. 240 miles, with 100-plus miles driven on open freeways over a holiday weekend. I made no allowances for the Bolt being electric and drove it like I would my own car." — Kurt Niebuhr, photo editor
"You don't really think 'utility' when you think EV, but the Bolt came in handy when we decided to clean up the yard on a sunny Saturday afternoon. I didn't think twice about taking the Bolt to pick up a few bags of garden bark and a handful of flowers at the local nursery. It has a pretty sizable cargo area that's surprisingly deep if you lift up the removable shelf. I could load a few cartons of flowers, a couple bags of supplies and a small bag of soil underneath the lid for the floor. Once the lid was back in place, I put two big bags of bark on top without any problems. I probably could have left the rear seats up if I had another passenger." — Ed Hellwig
"The dashboard is white and reflects a ton of sunlight in my face, not to mention the reflections of the dashboard in the windshield itself." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing
"I already touched on the sin that is light-colored dash tops, but I guess that needs to extend to white tech-y dash trim as well. I went to look in the driver-side mirror and all I could see was the dashboard and air vent. #glarecare" — Kurt Niebuhr
"The seatback frames have lost their padding. Most of the bolstering around your ribs and shoulders is simply leather-wrapped metal, so turning to look over your shoulder when backing up smarts. I guess they really want you to use the backup camera. Oh, and GM needs a new seat supplier." — Kurt Niebuhr
"The BMW training center in Ontario, California, has a public DC fast-charge station in its lot. It's available 24/7 and it's free. You need a ChargePoint account and it's SAE Combo only. No CHAdeMO plug means no Leaf access, so there's less chance it'll be in use when you roll up. Thing is, it's a relatively slow fast charger: 72 miles per hour instead of the typical 150-plus. I suppose you could say it is half-fast. That said, it's hard to complain about free." — Dan Edmunds