2022 Chevy Bolt EUV Review: A Great Start for Affordable EVs

The Bolt EUV is the second-cheapest EV in America behind the regular Bolt. It punches well above its weight.

byPeter Holderith| PUBLISHED Dec 22, 2022 10:00 AM
2022 Chevy Bolt EUV Review: A Great Start for Affordable EVs
Peter Holderith
Share

I have no doubt GM is losing money on the 2022 Chevy Bolt EUV. The model I drove in this review stickered for $43,585 several months ago. As of November, the exact same car would cost a prospective owner $37,285. Chevy is discounting the Bolt a tremendous amount to get them out the door, some months as much as $6,300. Does this mean it’s bad? No. Despite relatively old battery tech and slow public charging, it’s an excellent little car.

Its drawbacks are the same as most other EVs. Performance in cold weather suffers, good public chargers can be hard to come by, and its range—247 miles in this case—might not be enough for some people. Beyond all this, though, the Bolt EUV isn’t just a smart little electric runabout. With a base price of $28,195, it’s a great sign for the still-underserved electric economy car segment.

We need more cars like these.

Peter Holderith

2022 Chevy Bolt EUV Review Specs

  • Base price (Premier trim as tested): $28,195 ($37,285)
  • Powertrain: 65-kWh lithium-ion battery | single permanent magnet electric motor | 1-speed transmission | front-wheel drive
  • Horsepower: 200
  • Torque: 266 lb-ft
  • Seating capacity: 5
  • EPA range: 247 miles
  • Quick take: Other cheap EVs struggle to compete with the Bolt EUV’s price and available features.
  • Score: 8/10

The Basics

The Bolt is now two cars, if you didn’t know. There’s the standard hatchback Bolt and the slightly lifted EUV model, which was released this year, that tries to look like a little crossover. The latter is what I drove. Both get the same front-wheel-drive, single-motor, 200-horsepower drivetrain with a 66-kWh battery, although the regular hatchback gets slightly more range at 259 miles on account of a lower drag coefficient. 

The Bolt previously suffered from a paralyzing battery recall. Any new Bolt purchased has a new battery and is allegedly fine. Likewise, many older Bolts have had their batteries replaced—GM did battery replacements and MSRP swaps for new cars—but that has tainted the car's image. So far, the new batteries appear to be performing well and may actually provide more range than advertised, according to owners. Still, though. If you're looking to buy a used version of this car, make sure the battery has been replaced.

Outside, the EUV’s design are appealing to my eye. It looks sharp despite its blobby proportions. Narrow daytime running lights define the character of the front fascia while the actual headlights sit below them in more rounded pods. The rear of the car features taillights with nicely sculptured elements as well. From the side, it’s defined by its faux-crossover elements like the roof rails and plastic fender arches. 

The inside of the car was roomy and bright. The Bolt EUV I drove had white perforated leather seats and accents. Yellow stitching was a nice little touch as well. The switchgear was likewise glossy and looked premium. Admittedly, there’s a lot of stuff here from GM’s parts bin. If you haven’t been in a Buick Envision, though, then you won’t know the difference. It all feels great and works flawlessly. 

Driving the Bolt EUV

In short, electric drivetrains are a game-changer for economy cars. The Bolt EUV, despite costing just $28,195 as a base model, felt extremely refined. You would be hard-pressed to find another $28,000 car that’s as smooth and effortless to drive. There are no shifts to interrupt acceleration and features like one-pedal driving and manual regenerative braking—activated with a paddle on the steering wheel—made runs around town a breeze.

It was also far quieter and more comfortable than any other car I’ve driven at this price point. The ride was pleasant, the steering was light, everything was just easy. The visibility was also good even without the car’s rear-view camera mirror. Forget the comparatively unrefined engine, transmission, and minivan-like steering of a gasoline-powered economy car like a Kia Rio. If it fits your lifestyle, pay up to go electric if you want basic transportation. You won’t regret it.

The car's manual regen paddle. Peter Holderith

Comfort and convenience features were where the higher-trim Bolt EUV Premier I drove shone. It not only had heated and cooled seats, as well as a heated steering wheel, but the EUV was equipped with Super Cruise, GM’s hands-free highway driving system. In essence, if you’re on a highway that has Super Cruise support—and a lot of them have it now—then you just hit the Super Cruise button when you’re centered in a lane, remove your extremities from the controls, and keep looking ahead at the road. As long as you’re attentive to what’s ahead of you, the car will handle most of the driving. 

This feature is currently only available on the EUV, but it makes a big difference: It took a lot of the anxiety out of my long trips. Not only did it significantly reduce driver fatigue, but activating cruise control presumably meant the car was using the minimum amount of energy possible to get where it needed to go. When you’re in an EV, every little bit of range advantage matters. Overall, though, it was but one of the many things that made the Bolt EUV such an appealing car for the price.  

Range and Charging

Long distance travel wasn’t much trouble either, although your mileage may vary, literally and figuratively. I drove the EUV on two separate road trips of about 200 miles each. The first time, I did not stop to charge and I made it to my destination with about 10 miles of juice left. So realistically, I got about 210 miles of range out of the car.

The Bolt and Bolt EUV both have a single motor on the front axle. Peter Holderith

This was from really hypermiling it, by the way. I did not want to stop to charge under any circumstances. It was cold and rainy, which wasn’t helping. As my range dwindled, I was suddenly acutely aware that everything in the car was using electricity—electricity I needed. Gradually and over the course of my trip, I shut off the heat, heated seats, and finally I unplugged my phone until I only had the heated steering wheel and the wipers on. I considered shutting off the wipers but I valued my life too much.

I also had to slow down to only slightly above the speed limit, but I did make it. Luckily, the Bolt EUV provides three separate range figures that are high, normal, and low (which I interpreted as optimistic, realistic, and pessimistic). As long as I stayed above the pessimistic figure, I thought, I would surely make it. This turned out to be true. 

I then charged it overnight with the included 120-volt cable. That didn’t get me much range, but it was more than enough to reach a nearby fast charger. I arrived at this EV charger having never used it and had to set up an account with EVGo, which took a few minutes. After that, I was plugged in and regaining range.

Highs and Lows

One of the Bolt’s biggest drawbacks is the speed at which it charges publicly. Most other EVs can do 150 to 350 kW. That means 20% to 80% charge in around 10 to 30 minutes. The Bolt charges at just 50 kW. It took me 50 minutes to get up to 80%, regaining 32.3 kWh in the process.

You might think this would be an inconvenience if time was of the essence, and, yes, you’re right. My second long trip in the Bolt was a little more time-sensitive, but I learned my lesson this time. I located a charger mid-way through my trip, stopped to charge, and it took me about 45 minutes to get a safe amount of juice. I was late to my destination, but not too late. If I had less range, I would’ve been in trouble. About 250 miles is really the minimum for my lifestyle, but it might be more than enough for you. 

Is the slow charging really a big drawback for the Bolt, then? If you have a 240-volt fast charger at home, probably not. If you find yourself charging publicly a lot, then yeah it probably is. It’s worth noting that all of the stations I stopped at worked fine, though. None of them had broken chargers. If I had to make a less predictable journey, however, this might not have been the case.

Peter Holderith

In daily driving, though, range and charging speeds were the least of my worries. The Bolt EUV is extremely easy and comfortable to drive. Super Cruise also takes a huge burden off on the highway. Likewise, the interior is well-appointed both in terms of features and materials. Even the rear passengers get heated seats in the Premier trim. It’s a small, relatively inexpensive electric car, but it feels like so much more.

That’s really the bigger picture here. The value is what justifies this car’s eight out of 10 score. Even before the big discounts we’re seeing now, this car cost as much as a third-generation, high-trim Prius (adjusted for inflation). My girlfriend currently owns one of those, actually, and comparing it to the Bolt EUV results in a bloodbath. Not only is the Bolt much cheaper now post-discount, but it has far more equipment and it’s much better to drive. I’m not saying anyone cross-shops the two, but I am saying the Prius was the same price back then as the Bolt is now, and this feels like a millennium ahead in terms of what you get for the MSRP.

Chevy Bolt Features, Options, and Competition

The base Chevy Bolt EUV admittedly lacks almost all of the comfort features I enjoyed. In fact, if you want a cheap EV, I would skip the EUV and go straight for the regular Bolt. It costs just $26,595. With the base version of either car, you’ll still get alloy wheels, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plenty of charging ports, Bluetooth, and more. The downsides are black cloth seats and no heating/cooling for any interior surfaces like the seats/steering wheel. The Premier trim on the EUV costs an extra $4,500. It’s what nets you the heated/cooled leather seats and tech like automatic high beams and the aforementioned rear camera mirror. The test car also had a sunroof and better speakers, which are bundled into a single package and boosted its MSRP by $2,495. Super Cruise adds $2,200 as well. After all of that, the test car’s final MSRP came out to $37,285 thanks to its optional blue paint.

The Bolt EUV's camera mirror provides infinite rear visibility. Peter Holderith

Other EVs like the Nissan Leaf are worse in terms of price, value, and range. The Leaf has just 212 miles of range from an out-of-date, air-cooled battery which has a shorter overall life and worse range fluctuations in the cold. It costs $29,135. The Kia Niro offers a similar package with 253 miles of range, but it starts at $40,745. This changes if a tax credit is applied, but that varies by region. Likewise, to get the same features as the Bolt, the higher “Wave” trim must be specified, which costs $45,745. In other words, the Bolt still has it beat handily. The Bolt also undercuts any EV Ford or Tesla has to offer. The cheapest Mach-E is $48,195. The cheapest Tesla is likewise around $20,000 more expensive. The Bolt is, in fact, the cheapest EV for sale in the United States. It isn’t the least capable, though. Far from it.

Sustainability

On its face, the Bolt EUV is very sustainable. It not only emits no tailpipe emissions but it’s built in its largest market: the United States. It’s not arriving from overseas on a ship and it's not polluting once it gets here. At least not directly. General Motors has not released an audit of the carbon it takes to build the Bolt, but that’s something most other automakers skip as well. It doesn’t make it acceptable, but so far it’s par for the course.

Even if the Bolt’s battery and drivetrain take a lot of carbon to produce, though, the former has a relatively small capacity. It also has low motor power, which makes it an efficient means of transportation. Indeed, as compared to other EVs in its segment, it’s one of the most efficient. 

Value and Verdict

So while it charges slowly and could probably use a bit more range to satisfy the majority of buyers, the Bolt EUV really turns a page for the economy car. At $37,000, the test car I drove is a lot of money for what it is—effectively priced out to be a two-wheel-drive luxury hatchback. It’s not asking a lot for the features you get, though. That makes it far more attractive compared to its competition.

The 2022 Chevy Bolt EUV the start of something great, and it’s just evidence that more truly great electric economy cars are to come. As enthusiast vehicles, EVs may lack that special something. As transportation tools, though, they approach what the average consumer has always wanted out of a car. They’re quiet, comfortable, and—most importantly—they’re becoming inexpensive. Although only in its second generation, the Bolt is already approaching the prices we should all expect out of practical runabouts like this. It’s a great reason to get excited about EVs.

Email the author at peter@thedrive.com