- Long, strong driving range
- Ubiquitous Chevy-dealer support
- Tall-hatchback utility
- Familiar interface, driving experience
- A little too normal?
- Rival models have speedier fast-charging
- Ouch, those seats
features & specs
A few more miles of range and modest upgrades push the 2020 Chevy Bolt EV electric hatchback back at the top for (non-Tesla) range, but there are other more charming urban electric cars.
The field of affordable electric vehicles is growing by the year. And this year marks the first time that one of the longest-range affordable EVs, the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV, gets a range boost.
The 2020 Bolt EV gets its boost in battery capacity without any physical change to the pack or the way its integrated into the vehicle structure, according to GM.
Although if it weren’t for the two new exterior colors—Cayenne Orange Metallic and Oasis Blue—you might never be able to tell the 2020 Chevy Bolt EV LT or Premier from the 2019 versions at quick glance.
GM’s all-electric hatchback earns a 6.8 on our overall scale for its long range, strong powertrain, and spacious interior—although safety and comfort areas bring the Bolt EV’s standing down somewhat. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
For 2020 the Bolt EV gets a 10-percent boost in battery capacity, without any physical change to the LG Chem–configured pack. It’s now EPA-rated at 259 miles, while its 200-hp motor, front-wheel drive, and generous 10.2-inch infotainment-screen real estate carry over.
The Bolt EV is as space-efficient as this tall hatchback looks from the outside. While your eyes might be torn between seeing this one as a boxy little utility vehicle made curvy, or a little hatchback pushed upward, the Bolt EV is set up to be a versatile little hauler of people and cargo.
The 2020 Bolt EV fits four adults—five in a pinch—and behind the second row, there’s nearly 17 cubic feet of cargo room for gear. The second row tumbles down to offer as much space as many compact crossover SUVs.
Safety ratings are quite good for the Bolt EV, but its headlights have kept it from achieving the high ranks from the IIHS, and getting essential active-safety features require too many option boxes.
A Chevrolet Energy Assist feature lets owners search for charging stations, plan a trip, or get dynamic advice about charging along their route. The feature is based on users’ smartphones but can project to the infotainment system using Apple Carplay or Android Auto.
The Bolt EV continues to be available across the U.S., unlike some other fully electric models that are only offered in California states. Even as GM’s EV tax credit has wound down to its present level of $1,875 (good through March 2020), Chevy has kept the Bolt EV’s price at $37,500 and shown no sign of making up the difference.
2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Is it a tall hatchback or a utility vehicle? You decide, but in either case the 2020 Bolt EV continues to fit in with a wide range of vehicles—charge port or not.
Does the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV wedge a boxy layout into a curvaceous exterior, or does turn boxy into something more interesting? Whichever way you look at it, the Bolt EV is space-efficient, cleverly laid out and, to some eyes, attractive.
That said, the Bolt EV isn’t going to turn heads. From some distance away the form looks almost van-like; get closer and it’s more of a tall, economy-minded car. In either case, the tall, short proportions are inherently hard to get right—and mostly for that we give it a 6 out of 10.
That’s achieved mostly through some traditional vehicle-design tricks. The Bolt EV’s wheels are pushed outward to the corners, which makes the vehicle seem smaller than it is up close, but the “floating” roofline in back—tired cue as it is—helps make the roof visually “drop” toward the rear. In all, the wedge-like beltline also helps the Bolt look stockier yet still graceful up close.
The interior remains the weak point of the Bolt EV’s design. Looking a bit dated already, it’s a pastiche of plastic surfaces, and it blends economy-car efficiency and overambition in packing in too many contours and controls. The dashboard hangs high, a bit like a minivan control stack, with the big 10.2-inch touchscreen front and center. It’s not as cluttered as the Volt or other previous GM cars, but it could still use some calming and cheering-up.
2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV
The 2020 Bolt EV is true to its name in how it can bolt forward from stoplights; otherwise it drives like a (very heavy) compact car.
Those who are new to electric vehicles may be pleasantly surprised to find that the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV has very perky performance—especially in city driving.
The focus on efficiency doesn’t hold this hatch back. Generally, it accelerates strongly, holds the road well, and rides like a bigger vehicle—in part, to that latter point, because it’s so heavy for its size (nearly 3,600 pounds).
Because it gives up so little performance in the name of efficiency—and actually delivers a lot of punch from its electric motor system—the Bolt EV earns a 7 out of 10.
Regardless of drive mode, the Bolt EV handles well with a generous on-center steering zone that keeps the Chevy tracking down highways with minimal fuss.
The big, flat battery pack is low in the floor, which helps in handling and stability, and it feeds the front electric motor to an output of 200 hp. At its peak the motor delivers 266 lb-ft of torque, most of it early on, in ways only electric motors can provide. The Bolt EV accelerates up to 60 mph in less than seven seconds, which makes it quicker than many efficiency-minded sedans or crossovers.
The driving range, rated at 259 miles, is an important part of the Bolt EV’s performance credentials. And we’re happy to report that its range ratings mostly hold true in the real world, and they’re repeatable/reliable.
There are two drive modes in the Bolt EV. A normal mode functions like any car would, including idle creep—the vehicle moves slowly forward when you lift your foot off the brake pedal. A second mode allows something closer to “one-pedal driving,” in which there’s more regenerative braking when you lift off the accelerator pedal, and no idle creep.
The transition between regenerative braking and friction braking was so subtle, we hardly noticed it in our drives.
2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Comfort & Quality
The 2020 Bolt EV is quiet, comfortable, and space-efficient, but hardly impressive when you ponder the up-close details.
The 2020 Chevy Bolt EV looks from the outside like it’s versatile and spacious, and that’s a point that it delivers with no disappointment. There’s room inside for four or five, including space for gear or luggage.
While all the spaces are mapped out to their best, it’s the fine details that could be better. The Bolt EV’s interior speaks to a more modest price tag than it has. Multiple drab tones of plastic and hard surfaces within reach add up to a car that doesn’t feel like it should add up to more than $40,000.
In all, we give it a point above average for exceptional versatility, adding up to a 6 in this category.
Seating space is excellent in the Bolt EV, but seating comfort is most definitely not. Around town the thinly padded backrests and upright seating position are just fine, but on longer tips the short cushions just aren’t supportive enough. Some might find them passable, so take a long test-drive to see if the seats work for you.
Thin seats afford more leg room for those in back. Again, however, it’s thinly padded.
Getting in and out of this hatchback is easy, thanks to the tall seating position and ride height. Outward vision is excellent, too.
There’s 16.9 cubic feet of cargo room—more than some large sedans—in the cargo are. Tumble the second row out of the way and the cargo capacity expands to 56.6 cubic feet. Why do you need an SUV again?.
2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Safety ratings for the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt are collectively good but not quite top-notch.
The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV may be small and be riding around on a big battery pack, but it has amassed a respectable set of crash-test results and safety ratings.
What’s kept the Bolt EV from top scores? While its occupant-protection scores have been quite good, poor headlights and expensive, optional automatic emergency braking (and other optional safety systems) keep it from getting any higher than a 6 on our safety scale.
The IIHS gives the Bolt EV an overall evaluation of “Good,” but that includes an “Acceptable” rating for the passenger-side small overlap test and a “Poor” rating for headlights.
In federal NCAP testing the Bolt EV earns five stars overall, but its front crash tests only manage four stars.
Even in 2020, getting automatic emergency braking in a Bolt EV requires some careful option-box checking. You’ll need to get the Driver Confidence I and Driver Confidence II packages, to get features that, for instance, are mostly included as standard in the Nissan Leaf.
The Driver Confidence I package is available on LT and Premier trims and adds blind-spot monitors and rear parking sensors. The Driver Confidence II package adds active lane control, automatic high beams, and forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking (rates as “Superior” by the IIHS.
For 2020, the Bolt Premier includes a surround-view camera system and rear camera mirror.
2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV
The 2020 Chevy Bolt EV’s infotainment and convenience features are impressive, although it comes up short on standard active-safety features.
Once again, the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV comes in two trim levels, LE and Premier. The 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV is available in two trims, LT and Premier. There are only a few options available, mostly tech-related.
One continued feature letdown is that getting automatic emergency braking requires spending up to a package that also includes active lane control and forward parking sensors.
We’ll still give the Bolt EV a point above average for its big, mostly intuitive and lag-free touchscreen, however. It gets a 6 out of 10 for features.
On LT versions you can opt for a package with heated front seats and heated steering wheel. The DC fast-charging port is also optional on the LT and we’d recommend it for everyone; with the wider deployment of fast chargers, it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting an EV without it in the near future.
Premier versions add as standard features leather upholstery, a camera-based rearview mirror and an HD surround-view camera system, heated front and rear seats, blind-spot monitors, and rear parking sensors.
The Bolt EV is pretty generous with standard features at the base LT level. LED headlights, 17-inch wheels, keyless ignition, automatic climate control, and an 8.0-inch driver information display are included, as are Bluetooth connectivity and a 10.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system that’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible.
2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV
The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV is one of the most energy efficient cars on the road—electric or otherwise.
For 2020, the Bolt EV gets a range boost from 238 EPA-rated miles last year to 259 miles this year. That’s primarily through more battery capacity—now it’s 66 kwh, versus 60 kwh before.
For its 259 miles of EPA rated range, the Bolt EV maxes out on our fuel-economy scale. The slight boost for the battery pack doesn’t make the Bolt EV any more efficient; it actually steps it back slightly. The 2020 Bolt EV achieves 118 MPGe combined (127 MPGe city, 108 highway), or about 29 kwh per 100 miles. That’s down 1 MPGe combined versus last year, and not quite as efficient as some electric vehicles, but it’s far more efficient than gasoline vehicles, even considering the additional energy put into manufacturing EVs.
The 2020 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus, for instance, gets 141 MPGe combined and has a rated range of 250 miles with a 50-kwh battery. And the Hyundai Ioniq Electric achieves 133 MPGe and a range of 170 miles, with a 38 kwh battery.
Chevy says that the Bolt EV can recover 100 miles of range in 30 minutes of DC fast charging, although it only charges at an official 50 kw (55 in some instances); that’s considerably slowed than the 100 kw claimed for the Kia Niro EV. A full charge on Level 2 (240V) takes about 10 hours.