2017 Chevrolet Bolt: Monthly Update for December 2017
by Calvin Kim, Road Test Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
The end of November through December is typically sporadic for our long-term fleet. Depending on who gets what cars, some will plow through 2,000 miles on cross-country visits. Others, not so much. Our trusty 2017 Chevrolet Bolt fell into the latter category because the few Edmundites (including me) who got the keys to our EV hatchback opted for staycations with family.
In this case, that meant about 540 miles of nothing but stop-and-go city driving, which, incidentally, this little electric car enjoys. While it's beneficial that more drivers are experiencing the Bolt, the true win is that more drivers are able to properly operate the controls and understand what the comprehensive dash is indicating.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Thanks to the stop-and-go traffic of the holiday season combined with two longer (100-mile-plus) stints, the Bolt averaged 27.1 kilowatts per 100 miles. This is just a tick worse than average, but due to the relatively low number of miles accrued, the needle didn't move in either direction.
EPA projected range: 238 miles
Average lifetime projected range: 239.3
Best range: 334.3 miles
EPA kWh/100 miles (combined) rating: 28
Average lifetime kWh/100 miles: 26.1
Best kWh/100 miles: 18.3
EPA projected mpge: 119
Average lifetime consumption (mpge): 129.2
Current odometer: 12,396 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"Fun fact: The parking structure behind Paseo Colorado in Pasadena has free EV charging. However, it seems almost a shame to plug in the Bolt since I still have more than 100 miles left. I figure I'll plug it in, watch the new Star Wars flick, and by the time I get out it should be close to fully charged. After the movie, the Bolt's distance-to-empty is at 300 miles! YES!!!" — Rex Tokeshi-Torres, vehicle testing technician
"With the Bolt taken off the charger early in order to charge the short-term Leaf, I would normally panic. Being a Fiat 500e owner, my anxiety can get pretty high if I commute to work and don't get a chance to charge before heading home. I've heard many of my compatriots praise the Bolt's range, however, so I eased my nerves by leaning on their words of wisdom. Once I got in for the drive home, the Bolt's indicated range was about 170 miles, with a battery charge of around 70 percent.
"'That's quite a bit,' I thought, 'but we'll see what it looks like once I get home.' About 1.5 hours later, I rolled in to my driveway and the indicated range was at just 149. Holy cow! I'm officially on board with this car." — Rex Tokeshi-Torres
"Vestigial sun visors, normally the realm of compact roadsters and hypercars, are now finding their way onto more pedestrian machines like this Bolt for some reason. I haven't calculated it, but I think there's only, like, 6 square inches of coverage. When the sun is low, like in winter, it basically does nothing" — Calvin Kim, road test editor
"While driving around friends and family who had never been in an EV, most of them were surprised to see me drive in L, challenging their habits from internal combustion cars. Do not be afraid to one-pedal drive with the transmission in L. After reading Elfalan's post, I wanted to drive as much as possible without the friction brakes. With proper following distance and anticipation, I found it easy to drive this way. And by the end of the long Christmas weekend, I could come to a complete stop right before the intersection line. If anything, I found myself beginning to regen too early and having to negate some of the deceleration by adding pressure to the accelerator to compensate." — Calvin Kim
"One of my favorite Bolt points is in the instrumentation. While I'm not a fan of the color scheme, the configurable display can show all the information you could ever want. The max and min distances give the driver assurance on their effective range, while the thin bar graph that parallels the battery charge meter alerts drivers to which of those distances is more relevant based on driver behavior. Aside from the color scheme, the warning icons related to pedestrian alert, as well as a following distance minder, are hard to see among the other graphics. Clustering those warnings together rather than separating might've helped with that." — Calvin Kim
"Is the digitized rear mirror view a gimmick? Well, it depends. One of the benefits of this system is the fact that it's always perfectly aligned. No matter who's driving it, the view from the rearview display is the same. It also has a wider field of view than a regular mirror. It's so wide, in fact, that if you have your side mirrors adjusted correctly, you'll get some overlap on cars and off-street landmarks. Combined with blind-spot detection and the additional visibility afforded by door-mounted side mirrors, your level of situational awareness goes up to nearly 360 degrees around the Bolt.
"On the other hand, you lose a lot of resolution when it's dark or the sun is directly behind the car. In that sense, I'm glad Chevrolet put this combo system in place. If you don't like the view, you can flip it back to standard mirror mode." — Calvin Kim