2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV

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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Senior Editor
November 7, 2020

Buying tip

Make sure the Bolt EV you get has DC fast-charging, which is optional, can’t be retrofitted, and affects resale value—and your weekend-roadtrip potential.

features & specs

5-Door Wgn LT
5-Door Wgn Premier
MPG
NA
MPG
NA
MSRP
$36,500
MSRP
$41,700

The 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV provides a long driving range in a flexible hatchback body for the city—but it comes up short in charm and polish.

What kind of vehicle is the 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Bolt EV is a small fully electric vehicle, with a tall-hatchback body style. It’s one of the most affordable EVs that offers a long driving range of well over 200 miles. It most closely compares to the Nissan Leaf Plus and the Hyundai Kona Electric.

Is the 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV a good car?

Review continues below

The Bolt EV is a competent car good for space-conscious urban commuting, and its spacious interior and strong performance help it stand out in its class; but it doesn’t have a lot of charm in other respects. It earns a TCC Rating of 6.8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV?

For 2021, Premier versions of the Bolt EV now include DC fast-charging, and the KeyPass feature has been discontinued. A comprehensive mid-cycle refresh of the Bolt EV is due for the 2022 model year.

That refresh can’t come soon enough. Although the Bolt EV got a 10% boost in its battery capacity—and a corresponding boost in range—for 2020, the field of affordable electric vehicles has been growing by the year, and without GM’s eligibility for the $7,500 federal EV tax credit the price leap is very small to another league of more family-friendly electric vehicles. 

Last year’s change made the Bolt EV’s battery 66 kwh, bringing an EPA range of 259 miles, while its 200-hp motor, front-wheel drive, and sharp, bright, and expansive 10.2-inch infotainment-screen real estate carried over. 

Looks can be deceiving from a distance, and it has a lot to do with the proportions baked into the Bolt EV. Despite varied first impressions, the Bolt EV is set up to be a versatile little hauler of people and cargo—with room for four adults, almost 17 cubic feet of cargo space behind, and easy-folding rear seatbacks for larger cargo.

The Bolt EV has had relatively good safety ratings, although active-safety items have required too many option boxes—and that remains true for 2021. The infotainment system in the Bolt EV is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it offers a smartphone-based Chevrolet Energy Assist feature allowing owners to search for en route charging stations based on their car’s current and anticipated level of charge.  

How much does the 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV cost?

The Bolt EV hasn’t yet been priced for 2021. The 2020 Bolt EV starts at $37,495 in LT form, and the Premier version starts at $41,895.

Where is the 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV made?

The 2021 Bolt EV is made in Lake Orion, Michigan.

6

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Styling

The 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV plays with proportions, and looks like a utility vehicle from a distance and a tall hatchback up close.

Is the 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV a good-looking car?

Whichever way you see the Bolt EV’s tall, short profile and high-heeled-footwear proportions, the Bolt EV is space-efficient and cleverly laid-out. 

The Bolt EV is no head-turner, and how you see this vehicle plays with your sense of proportion. From some distance away, the form can look somewhat more stockier and van-like or more like that of a utility vehicle, but up close it fits the form of a taller, albeit graceful hot hatch—just stepped up all around a few inches in height. There’s nothing overtly rugged about the design, but the “floating” roofline helps make the profile visually tuck downward at the rear. 

Cabin design ends up as the weak point in the Bolt EV’s design. With a pastiche of plastic surfaces and a dash and center-stack layout that can feel almost van-like, with the big 10.2-inch touchscreen front and center, it mixes economy-car efficiency with what smacks of overambition—and could simply use some cleaning-up.

Review continues below
7

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Performance

The 2021 Chevy Bolt EV can indeed bolt from stoplights but otherwise drives like a typical compact car—albeit an overweight one.

Very perky performance in city driving is a hallmark of most electric vehicles, and the 2021 Chevrolet Bolt delivers that—although it might not deliver on the rest of the performance attributes people expect to experience in a sporty-looking hatchback. 

Is the Chevrolet Bolt EV 4WD?

The Bolt EV has front-wheel drive and does not have an all-wheel drive option.

How fast is the Chevy Bolt EV?

Don’t expect the Bolt EV to give anything up by being all-electric. Quite the contrary, it delivers more acceleration punch—especially at city speeds—than most gasoline hatchbacks you might compare it against. Generally speaking, it holds the road well, too, and rides like a bigger vehicle.

The front electric motor makes 200 hp and delivers up to 266 lb-ft of torque, giving this hatchback shockingly quick and strong acceleration and responsiveness, up to about 50 mph, and a 0-60 mph time of less than seven seconds. 

A normal mode provides a reasonable amount of coasting, and allows the vehicle to “creep” ahead when you lift your foot off the brake pedal, while a second mode, closer to the “one-pedal driving” that Tesla owners prefer, nixes the idle creep that mimics gas vehicles and brings more regenerative braking when you lift off the brake pedal.

The Bolt EV maneuvers well, with a generous on-center steering zone that keeps the Chevy tracking down highways with minimal fuss. The big, flat 66-kilowatt-hour battery pack is low in the floor, which helps in handling and stability. Handling on curvy roads doesn’t feel quite as sharp——in part because it’s so heavy for its size (nearly 3,600 pounds).

A long driving range of 259 miles is an important part of the Bolt EV’s performance credentials; we’ve found over several longer-distance drives that this is a number that the Bolt EV can at least approach in a wide range of conditions.

Review continues below
6

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Comfort & Quality

The 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV is delightfully space-efficient but a little drab on the details.

From the outside, the 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV looks spacious and versatile, and that’s a point it delivers through and through. You’ll find room for four adults inside—five, if you count three who don’t mind being sandwiched together—and space for gear or luggage. 

Getting in and out of this hatchback is easy, thanks to the tall seating position and ride height. Outward vision is excellent, too. 

Although the space is there, it’s comfort and support that are missing. Front seats are upright and thinly padded, with short thigh cushions, and despite minor improvements to these seats in recent model years, they’re still a reason the Bolt EV might get left at home on a weekend trip, even if it does have the driving range. 

There’s 16.9 cubic feet of cargo room—more than some large sedans—in the cargo area. 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?

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.

Review continues below
6

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Safety

The 2021 Bolt EV has safety ratings that are good but not in the top tier.

How safe is the Bolt EV?

Even if you dismiss the 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV as being a small car riding on a big battery pack, safety should be one of your priorities; and in this respect, the Bolt EV performs reasonably well in crash-test results. 

It’s not quite in the top tier, though. Headlights are rated just “Acceptable” by the IIHS, with an overall rating of “Good,” but that includes an “Acceptable” rating for the passenger-side small overlap test. In federal NCAP testing the Bolt EV earns five stars overall, but its front crash tests only manage four stars. 

Automatic emergency braking is included in all the Bolt EV’s rivals, but getting it here involves some careful option-package checking. 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 that rates as “Superior” by the IIHS.

Review continues below
6

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Features

The Bolt’s connectivity tech is fully up to speed, but some comfort and active-safety features are left to option groups.

The 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV carries forward with a familiar letdown in its feature set: Getting automatic braking—an active-safety item we strongly recommend—requires spending up to a package wrapping in active lane controls and forward parking sensors. 

The Bolt EV comes in LT and Premier models, and both of them heap on the connectivity tech, with a crisp, bright 10.2-inch touchscreen providing responsive menus and simplified interfacing with smartphones, via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

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. Options include wireless smartphone charging, Bose premium audio, and active-safety upgrades.

Which Bolt EV should I buy?

The base LT. But it’s hamstrung in the value department because Chevy makes features that are standard on rival models optional here. With the Driver Confidence II Package, to add automatic emergency braking and other safety features, plus DC fast charging, the LT adds up to nearly $40,000. To compare, the base price of a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus, with a 263-mile range, is $39,190 at the time of writing.

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV?

The loaded Premier model starts at about $42,000. Option it with an infotainment package (wireless charging and Bose premium audio) and the Driver Confidence II package (active safety items and active headlamps), and it adds up to about $43,000.

Review continues below
10

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Fuel Economy

Efficiency is a strong suit for the 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV—and yes, that means plenty of driving range from a battery small enough to charge overnight.

The Bolt EV received a somewhat larger battery pack last year, upping its capacity to 66 kwh and boosting range to 259 miles. While that stepped efficiency back slightly, the Bolt EV remains one of the most efficient cars of any king, at 118 MPGe combined (127 MPGe city, 108 highway), or about 29 kwh per 100 miles. 

Even at that, the Bolt EV’s battery is quite a bit smaller than for a number of other larger premium electric crossovers and sedans—which brings the benefit of easier overnight charging with a normal Level 2 charger like you might install in your garage. The Bolt EV will charge in about 10 hours with that. 

If optioned with DC fast-charging, the Bolt EV can recover 100 miles of range in 30 minutes (at an official 50 kw, or up to 55 kw in some conditions)—good enough to tackle occasional weekend road trips without feeling like you’ve spent all day charging.

Review continues below
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$36,500
MSRP based on 5-Door Wgn LT
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6.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety 6
Features 6
Fuel Economy 10
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