Plenty of Canadians claim to be ready to make the jump to an all electric car, towards an electrified future.
The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier tested here is one of the best current examples on the market, having been on sale since 2017 with reasonable success. Sales are in-line with the Bolt’s immediate rival, the Nissan Leaf (reviewed here). However, newer examples like the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia Soul EV are bringing more competition to the game.
Moving to an electric vehicle requires a fair bit of research to see if it really does fit your lifestyle. Personally, living in a 14-year old condominium, getting a charging system installed requires approval from property management and the building association. It’s all easier said and done, especially when other residents who aren’t interested in this transition learn of the added costs. Regardless,
During my two weeks with the Bolt EV, I had to locate the closest charging stations in my area and plan my destinations accordingly. Planning ahead of time is key to owning an EV. Access to DC fast charging is key, which will get 80% of charge in approximately half-hour. An update to the 2020 model is an increase in maximum range from 383 to 417 kilometers in optimal conditions, an upgrade that allows it to do battle with new challengers such as the Nissan Leaf Plus and aforementioned Kona Electric. However, it must be mentioned that in a cold Canadian winter, we observed a maximum range of 310 kilometers.
Considering the Bolt EV’s small footprint, there is ample space for four full-sized adults. Being a tall vehicle, headroom will never be an issue for front or rear passengers. The seats themselves aren’t as supportive as they could be, but they are easy to get in and out of, making for a great commuter vehicle. The interior is a mix of soft and hard eco-friendly materials that’s reflective of the Bolt’s overall mission. Cargo capacity is 479-liters, which grows to 1,603-liters if the rear seats are folded down. The only glaring issue in our test vehicle was some mis-aligned panels between the dashboard and doors; we’re chalking this off to it being a very early production vehicle.
Technology is literally everywhere inside the Bolt. It includes multiple exterior cameras, 4G-LTE WiFi hotspot, and a 10.2-inch infotainment screen that controls virtually everything you need. Tech fanatics will feel right at home behind the wheel in this rolling statement of Silicon Valley. Once you spend some time with the menus, the slick system becomes second nature. The Bose sound system sounded excellent, with great bass and treble clarity that other compact eco-friendly cars seem to lack. Factor in the high-definition surround-view camera with a dedicated spray nozzle to keep the rear-view camera clean, and you have some very nice touches.
The Bolt EV’s electric motor puts out 200 horsepower and 266 lb-ft. of torque, available right off idle as expected from an electric vehicle. Due to the instant torque delivery, the throttle must be modulated in cold conditions or there will be plenty of wheelspin. 100km/h arrives in 6.5 seconds, surprisingly quick for what the Bolt looks like. As with any other EV, operation is completely silent and immensely smooth. With its short wheelbase and low center of gravity, the Bolt is remarkably fun to drive and can tackle on-ramps and corners with excellent poise and eagerness.
Chevrolet Canada prices the Bolt at $44,998 to start, however our Premier model is the top trim and comes in at $50,298. Our test vehicle also added a Driver Confidence Package for $795, which adds active safety features including forward collision warning, lane keep assist, automatic high beams and emergency automatic braking. For resale purposes, it’s worth tacking on this package, but it really should be made standard issue considering the price point of the Bolt EV.
At the time of this writing, the Canadian federal government throws in a $5,000 rebate to buyers of the Bolt EV, and residents of Quebec and British Columbia are eligible for an additional $8,000 from their provincial governments. EV sales in Ontario have dropped since the province cancelled their EV rebate program and actually removed some charging stations across the province. Those who have the ability to install a Level 2 charging station in their garage at home will find it much more palatable to make this transition.
The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV is a great urban vehicle for those with a very specific lifestyle, or as a second vehicle for homeowners in the suburbs. It drives extremely well and offers enough versatility for most Canadians to use on their daily commutes, and is reasonably fun to boot. If it fits your daily routine, there are few things more calming in gridlock than driving an EV. The Bolt remains one of our favourite green vehicles out there.