Like any good CleanTechnica journalist, I provide in-depth analyses of any clean vehicle I purchase, borrow, rent, or get access to on a temporary basis. I’ve had the car for approximately a month, according to a recent email from GM’s OnStar service, so now seems like a good time to provide readers with an update. Really, a month is long enough for the excitement of purchasing a new car to subside and for more impartial evaluations of the car to take place.
Check out my initial comments on the car here and my description of driving it on some challenging dirt roads here if you’d want to examine what I’ve written so far. Here, I also talk about how to get EVSE installation discounts from GM and utility companies.
I just had one simple number from OnStar’s email for the entire month, which I covered roughly 1600 miles, and that was 97 MPGe. 97 sounds like a poor MPGe number at first glance, but it needs to be understood in its wider context.
The Bolt EUV has an EPA rating of 125 city and 104 highway (because EVs are generally less efficient on the highway, which is the opposite situation to that of combustion vehicles). EPA highway testing are typically not very realistic (they have very slow highway speeds and simulate traffic slowdowns) to begin with, and on top of that, I live in the western United States where interstate speed limits nearly invariably start in 7, and occasionally start in 8. The majority of the local driving was done on 65 MPH freeways, while I generally drove on roads with a 75 MPH speed restriction. Most of the time, this translates to “Go 80 or get run over.”
Therefore, it makes sense that I would observe this average given that I have spent a lot of time traveling above EPA highway speeds.
This equates to approximately 2.8 miles per kWh, and according to ABRP’s OBD connection, the car claims to have 61.4 kWh of usable battery capacity. For the benefit of those who are ignorant, the battery is still 66 kWh as stated; however, GM is wise and leaves some buffer at the top and bottom of the battery to ensure that it doesn’t get damaged. Given the speeds involved, the 2.8 miles/kWh multiplied by the 61.4 kWh results in a range of about 170 miles at 80 MPH, which is fairly impressive.
I also learned some additional efficiency-related facts from ABRP. The usage at 65 mph is 3.43 miles per kWh (292 Wh/mile). The estimated remaining battery at charge stations is very precise, and ABRP uses this value as a starting point when estimating the available range on scheduled routes. 3.4 miles/kWh at 65 on level ground therefore seems to be a solid estimate that reflects reality.
FIRST WARRANTY REPAIR FOR THE VEHICLE The automobile had a break on the day we got it, and it happened before we even drove off the lot, which is something I haven’t discussed yet. One of those temporary screen coverings was attached to the infotainment system of the car, and when my wife took it off, part of the screen’s corner came up with it. They promptly placed an order for a replacement screen because it was clear that there was a tiny manufacture error (weakness in the plastic in that corner, perhaps).
The only thing that bothered me was that I wasn’t able to return it right away after the screen arrived. I received a panicked phone from the dealer warning that they would charge a core fee if we didn’t return it by the next day. We already had a crazy bathroom remodel going on at the time, so I dragged my exhausted self down there and had a nap while they changed the screen.
When a customer can’t make it in right away for a repair, I believe GM needs to work with suppliers more to be flexible with replacement part timelines and core charges.
ONE SMALL ISSUE WITH THE ENTERTAINMENT In relation to the infotainment system, on two occasions, wifi interference wiped out my Android Auto session, and it took some time to rejoin. I tried manually reconnecting, but it just didn’t work, so I had to wait until I could switch off the car, unlock the driver’s door, and let the car fully reboot before using Android Auto.
I’m aware that 2017–21 Bolts could reboot their infotainment systems by holding a button down, but I can’t locate any instructions for this on the Bolt EUV, and nothing I’ve tried has worked save for stopping the car and turning it off altogether.
I don’t have unreasonable expectations when it comes to computing. I am satisfied with the infotainment system and wireless Android Auto, although I am aware that even the greatest technologies can fail ( but not the myChevrolet app ). The only feature I’d really like to see for the infotainment system while I’m driving is a quick reboot process so I can get Waze back on the screen and my music back.
A NEW ADVENTURE ON UNPAVED ROAD I made the decision to take the EUV on another off-road adventure after enjoying a terrific ride on a moderately challenging dirt road close to Ruidoso, New Mexico. I went to the Chiricahua Mountains in southeast Arizona, but the trip was a bit hurried, so I didn’t capture any excellent shots. The roads appeared relatively good on Google Maps, but I had never been there and had no idea what to expect (this isn’t the first time I’ve run into more than I anticipated).
It was a good thing that the travel from close to El Paso wasn’t at all exciting. With about a quarter of the battery left, a full battery carried me all the way to Lordsburg, New Mexico. I then received a reasonably full charge at the Electrify America station before exiting the highway for the afternoon/evening.
Other than some incredibly stunning landscape as we observed several storms pass over Portal from the New Mexico side, the journey to Portal, Arizona, was uneventful. But I didn’t bring my best camera because I was just out having fun and seeing the sights. I’m still mad at myself for making that choice because I could have had a greater chance at:
The US Forest Service warns : “High clearance vehicles are strongly suggested. Despite the fact that I missed out on some fantastic photo possibilities, I still had a terrific day and tackled some challenging terrain that most people wouldn’t think the EUV could do. If available, 4WD is also advantageous. We made a loop that took us from the tiny village of Portal through the Southwest Research Station of the American Museum of Natural History, around to Paradise, Arizona, and back to Portal.
We had to cross a few small river crossings, several washouts, some really rocky roads (which had been made worse by the popularity of side-by-side UTVs), and a few places where I needed to use the front camera to make sure I wasn’t going to scratch anything up. The suspension maintained comfort even when the road was truly terrible.
The EUV is a good affordable EV choice for folks who reside in or frequently travel through locations with roads like this, as I’ve before mentioned. The only qualification is that I haven’t tested these roads in wet or snowy conditions, so they might only be a decent summer choice if you live very far out in the woods.
I’m going to go back soon to witness the fall foliage, and the next time I’ll bring a good camera! I did, however, manage to capture one passable photo using a phone:
By Jennifer Sensiba, all pictures.
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