2017 Chevy Bolt EV electric car: new owner's first impressions Page 3

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John and Mimi Porter of San Diego, California, with their new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, in Feb 2017

John and Mimi Porter of San Diego, California, with their new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, in Feb 2017

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I also appreciate the huge LCD center panel display, loaded with charging information, entertainment options, and ability to display app information from a smart phone  via USB plug.

Now I can get a good display of traffic and routing maps ported from my smart phone and displayed in the center of the dash, complete with voice commands. The Bolt EV also has OnStar telematics, combined with the ability to act as a Wi-Fi hot spot (a subscription option).

One of the most pleasant surprises was the one-pedal driving. I’d previously learned to minimize energy usage driving the i-MiEV by using the setting for more aggressive regeneration when the car's not under power.

The Bolt EV extends this capability nicely, offering a seamless "Low" regeneration mode that can actually slow the car to a stop using every bit of deceleration energy available. I can make a complete trip to the store and back, without using the brake in traffic.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

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The higher trim-level version of the Bolt EV includes lots of sensors for detecting lane wandering, cross traffic while backing, parking assist, forward collision alert, and more. I declined them while specifying my car, thinking that I’ve been driving for over 50 years, and can do that stuff on my own easily.

It later occurred to me that these independent systems are a harbinger of an integrated self-driving system to come some years from now. When they have been perfected into a self-driving package, I’ll be ready for them.

Our first few short trips around town, combinations of freeway and stop-and-go driving, were an outstanding experience. The Bolt took up smoothly to 75 mph with no increase in road noise. (A friend with hearing aids tried that in a Tesla, and he said he had been disappointed with the road noise.)

The Bolt has a rather stiff ride, which I like, but other people with many aches may not. Its steering is quick and responsive, with a heavier feel than the Mitsubishi. but it has the same low center of gravity because of its battery placement under the floorpan.

There's also a “Sport Mode” switch, which allows you to boost the power to a tire-spinning drag-strip level of acceleration. Of course, I would never use that ... unless some young punk pulls up to me in a Corvette and sarcastically gave me the thumb-up sign. Then maybe I’d be tempted to push that switch.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

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All in all, we love our Bolt EV. It's like GM's engineers wised-up about the huge potential market of older buyers: we want a practical , comfortable car with acceptable distance capability, good visibility and accessibility, in a high-tech package. Also, no road noise to bother our hearing aids.

And of course, the ability to accelerate away from stoplights on a par with the occasional muscle car—but only when absolutely necessary.

Some electric-car wisdom I’ve picked up:

  • Do your homework when buying. You need to be better informed than the salesperson—who may not have the information, or may be incorrect.
  • Don’t believe the range rating on the window sticker. Usually the warranty info in fine print will give you more realistic information about long-term use. Take that into consideration for your needs. Also, note that the rated range on the sticker assumes you are driving alone, not using the heat or the air conditioning, and not carrying any load.
  • If you have one electric car and one gasoline vehicle, decide at the start of the day who will get which car, based on estimated driving distance for each. The driver of the longer distance takes the electric to save on gas costs. It's a very effective strategy.
  • Electric cars with lower ranges are clearly cheaper, but I feel that daily or twice-daily charges to keep them useful can be hard on a battery and might decrease their life. Our Bolt EV will only need about one charge each week: very battery-friendly.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

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In the end, we've decided that with the Bolt EV, being a two-person household with two electric cars is now very doable for us.

Sorry about that, faithful Honda CR-V ....

 

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