We just returned from our Spring Break vacation in Northern California. I used Turo to rent the above Bolt. If you aren’t familiar with Turo: It is a service like AirBnb but for cars (e.g. you can rent out your own car to make money–interesting concept that could have a blog post all its own but I’m not here to talk about that).
I did mention in my previous post that the Bolt is a strong contender for my next vehicle. So now that I’ve driven one for a week how does it fare?
Lets start with the looks: I’ve read many opinions about that with a few people still thinking it looks a bit odd which makes it stand out. To me it looks very similar to the other small GM CUV’s (Chevy Traxx or the Buick Encore–of course some may think those have polarizing looks themselves). Comparing dimensions it is very similar to both of those (wheelbase, length, track width, etc.). To my eyes I don’t think it looks much different from a Ford Escape or the C-Max from the side (the front looks much better than the C-Max).
One of the major complaints about the Bolt is the front seats. Now that I’ve sat in them for a week I understand. To describe it: The seats have a curve to them from side to side for both the back and the bottom. It almost feels like a folding chair where the two side bars holding the canvas aren’t wide enough. Thus if your frame fits within the curvature of the seats you’ll be comfortable, if it doesn’t you won’t. For myself: After a few minutes driving I stopped noticing the curve and found them rather comfortable. By the end of the week seat comfort was a non issue as I could hardly notice anything odd about them.
The Premier trim levels of the Bolt get a panoramic rear view mirror. Flipping the day night switch on the bottom of the mirror switches between a normal mirror and the panoramic one. The panoramic one uses a wide angle camera at the back of the car and when in that mode the mirror is just a monitor.
This takes some getting used to. When driving with a normal mirror you keep your eyes focused at infinity looking in the mirror which makes it very easy to quickly glance in the mirror and back out the front window. When in panoramic mode the mirror is a monitor which means you have to refocus to a short distance (much like looking down at the dash: you have to refocus at the closer distance). Initially I had found it difficult to do, but our car had some advertising on the back window which I found more distracting than the panoramic mirror LOL. After a day or so using the panoramic mode got to be no more difficult than checking the speed, or charge, etc.
One pedal mode: Putting the Bolt in “L” (as opposed to “D”) enables one pedal mode. In this mode it no longer creeps and taking your foot completely off the accelerator will quickly bring the car to a stop. I had briefly tried one pedal mode when driving around a family member’s Model S. I didn’t have enough time in my brief test drive of the S to get the hang of it. On the Bolt one pedal mode is really easy to get used to and a joy to use. You can and sometimes still have to use the brake–especially on hilly San Francisco streets but with normal flat terrain you can get away without using the brake at all.
The dash is a bit simpler than the Focus Electric or the C-Max–although there could be a more complicated display; I really didn’t explore all of those options (this was mostly because I was cognizant that this was someone’s car and I didn’t want to mess with all of their settings). The important things are there and are an improvement on the Ford implementation. The range display at the left, for example: On the Focus electric Ford’s attempt varied widely based on your most current usage (a reason for the Guess-O-Meter name it has been given). On the Bolt that value was pretty stable and you’re also given a Maximum value if you drive super efficiently and a minimum value if you drive like you stole it. To the right hand side (the 7kW value on the picture above) is your current power consumption or regeneration value. This display is similar to the Focus Electric except that it also shows the power value during regeneration–very nice (in addition that yellow line going through the value is a graph that moves up for driving and down for regeneration).
With 200+ miles did I experience any “range anxiety”? Well I can honestly say that I never really had any “range anxiety” when driving the Focus Electric with its paltry 70 miles of range, so 200+ miles was a cake walk. Note that I’m saying 200+ miles here and not 238–the Bolt’s official range–because this car would only “fill” to a bit above 200 miles; most likely due to the terrain. Since we couldn’t charge at home it was interesting experiencing the “find a charger” problem in California. Fortunately I didn’t mind using the more expensive chargers (which were almost always available) because I was just doing an extended test drive and not using them to charge daily. If I were to own a Bolt between its range and the fact that we have a home charger I wouldn’t expect to use public charging at all unless we went for an extended drive.
Fast charging: Neither the Focus Electric, nor the C-Max have the capability for DC fast charging–this Bolt did (its optional on the Bolt). This is a must have. Even if you never use it it will be there for resale value. I did try out fast charging for about 15-20 minutes: plugged in the car, turned on the charger and went grocery shopping. Upon returning to the car it had gained almost 40 miles and was making a racket LOL (something I had expected: all the cooling systems were in full swing).
On the whole the Bolt is a very nice solid car. It has always pretty much been the top contender for my next car since it came out. Now that I’ve experienced one for a week I’m pretty positive it will be my next car (was a little disappointed I had to return it).