Recently I had the chance to drive the 2023 Chevy Bolt EUV. The model I picked up was the base trim, but that was completely adequate for the purposes of a quick review. The EUV (Electric Utility Vehicle) is a crossover sized version of the Bolt EV, and is probably the most similar in appearance to a Chevy Trax. I’m late to the party here, because it is being discontinued at the end of 2023 to make room for a growing roster of Chevy EVs utilizing the Ultium platform. While nothing has been said, there is speculation that the EUV, or an EUV like vehicle, will return on that platform.
My previous experience with EVs is fairly limited. I’ve driven several Tesla Model 3 vehicles, and prior to that I drove a Toyota Prius (not a BEV, but still an EV in a sense) for several years as my primary car. I’m not going to talk about the Bolt in comparison to the Toyota, because that would be a little silly.
The exterior of the vehicle is a classic small crossover. I don’t have the raw numbers in front of me, but it felt slightly smaller than a Toyota Rav4. The copy I drove was white, with good paint quality. The lights are standard for a vehicle in the price range (the base model has an MSRP of USD$ 27,800). There are multiple lights in most of the fixtures, and the illumination seemed good across the break and turn signals. Though I didn’t drive it at night, I was in a parking garage where the headlights turned on a few times, and the result was good: good illumination and well aimed. As one would expect from a modern vehicle, there were basically no unacceptable panel gaps. I don’t usually like how domestic cars look, but this one was good.
At higher trim levels the EUV is available with leather seats and higher end stereo equipment. The version I had was a base model, so it featured cloth seats and all manual adjustments. Regardless, it was comfortable. The controls will be familiar to anyone who has used a modern gas vehicle. It feels high enough of the ground to be pleasant to drive in a busy Texas city. While entirely manual, I found the seat and steering wheel comfortable to use on the highway and on city streets.
The instrument cluster is entirely digital, showing range and battery level on one side and energy consumption/regeneration on the other. I found the display easy to read, the speed is large and central on the display. The energy consumption area serves double duty during charging: it also displays the current kW rate. My one complaint about the instruments was that it was impossible to change the display from estimated “miles to empty” range to percentage battery remaining. There is actually no way to see the battery percentage level in this vehicle, though you could estimate it by looking at the 5% granular bar chart behind the range display.
The entertainment system is fairly bare bones, not featuring maps without a separate subscription (which I did not have). You can pair Android Auto or Apple Car Play with the vehicle, but only over Bluetooth. You cannot use the USB port for anything but charging a phone. You will have to charge your phone, in this case, because Bluetooth Car Play is a battery drain. Charging controls are basically non existent, as is charging status besides the speed being shown on the instruments. This could use improvement, but wasn’t a huge problem for something that is basically a commuter car.
I can only really compare this car to gas vehicles and the Tesla Model 3. I think, for the price range of the car, it’s more fun to drive than a similarly priced gas vehicle. It’s a little less sporty than the Tesla Model 3, but it’s also more than ten thousand dollars cheaper. It has all the thing you expect with an EV: instant torque, smooth acceleration curve, and good one peddle driving. I didn’t ever feel like I couldn’t come up to speed when merging. It was a pleasant car to drive, not sporty, but practical. There isn’t much to say here because it didn’t get anything particularly wrong, and for the price it was fun to drive.
This isn’t so much the driving dynamics as a comparison the Model 3, but the vehicle was extremely quiet on the highway. Where every Model 3 I have rented had some sort of whistle while driving over 50mph, the Bolt was very solid in this regard. Road noise was still, obviously, present, but not distracting.
I think it’s safe to say that most people aren’t buying an EUV as a road trip car. It’s a commuter vehicle which likely expects you to charge at home the vast majority of the time. That said, it does feature CCS DC Level 3 fast charging. I took it to a EVgo 50kW station as well as an Electrify America 250kW station. Both connected to the car without issue. I was renting the vehicle, and needed to return it at a relatively high state of charge. At the EVgo station I charged from 83% to 99% over about 30 minutes. At the EA station I charged from 90% to 99% over 15 minutes. I don’t have the data from EVgo at the moment, but EA shows that my max speed was 27kW. I didn’t keep a graph, but this was only briefly, as you would expect at such a high state of charge. At the end I was down to closer to 17kW.
Would I Buy One?
If I were commuting in a city with a daily drive of less than 150 miles, I think the answer is yes. The car highlights one of the things that I think EVs are going to really change, which is that cheaper cars can still be fun to drive. The US doesn’t have that many cheap EVs yet, but hopefully that changes over the next few years. I’ve driven plenty of rental cars priced at about the same range as the Bolt EUV, and they were nowhere near as fun to drive as it was. Is it as fun to drive as a Model 3? No, not really, but I found that mostly I didn’t care.
Featured image credit: Image by: ZZZico, originally downloaded on September 2, 2023: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Bolt_EUV#/media/File:Chevrolet_Bolt_EUV.jpg