General Motors doesn’t get the EV street cred it deserves. But I give the Chevy Bolt EUV a lot of cred — Tesla enthusiasts notwithstanding.
I spent the last two weeks driving — on and off — the 2023 Chevy Bolt EUV Premier Redline with GM’s Super Cruise driver assist technology. But before I get to my quick-take review, let’s talk price. Because that’s where it faces stiff competition from the bestselling electric SUV (and world’s best selling vehicle), the Tesla Model Y. The 2023 Bolt EUV Premier Redline Edition with Super Cruise has an MSRP of about $39,000 but that drops to about $31,500 with the point-of-sale $7,500 federal credit. That’s a good deal for a fully-loaded electric SUV with advanced driver assist technology, roughly equivalent to Tesla’s Autopilot and Rivian’s Highway Assist. The Bolt EUV, which has an EPA rated range of 247 miles, is, however, facing increasing competition as Tesla drops its prices. The rear-wheel drive Model Y, as of the end of January 2024, starts at about $38,000 for new inventory. Some inventory Model Y models also get the federal tax credit making them even more price competitive with the Bolt.
Overview: I have driven Bolt EVs extensively since 2017. The EUV is a different animal. The ride is smoother, it’s quieter, and most importantly it comes with features you can’t get on the EV. I put these to the test in a drive into the mountains above Los Angeles and across Simi Valley in Ventura County. I will focus on GM’s Super Cruise below.
Super Cruise: Super Cruise will drive the EUV for you on major roads such as Interstates. I commend GM for providing this on a relatively inexpensive EV. It’s a $2,200 option on the Bolt EUV Premier. Essentially, it works just like Rivian’s Highway Assist technology that comes with the $90,000+ R1S I test drove recently. Obviously you’re saving a ton of money compared to pricey SUVs like the Rivian.
Super Cruise will take over steering and, combined with adaptive cruise control, will automatically control the speed of the car, slowing down or speeding up depending on traffic (i.e., the speed of the car ahead of you). You do have to manually change lanes but Super Cruise will automatically reengage once you’ve made the lane change. Super Cruise works only on major highways. GM claims there are 200,000 miles of mapped roads. It worked fine for me during the four hour round trip on Interstate 5 outside of Los Angeles. It did stop working in a construction zone, however. But this was brief. About five minutes. And Super Cruise occasionally got dangerously close to big rigs in the next lane. But the Rivian had the same problem so it’s just something that humans are more adept at managing. Super Cruise will automatically turn itself off as soon as you exit a highway. For more on Super Cruise, see this short GM video.
Sun and Sound package: The Bolt EUV Premier I drove comes with a sunroof and Bose 7-speaker sound. The sound is better than the sound system you get in the Bolt 1LT. But it’s not that much better — i.e., I wouldn’t call it a make-or-break feature. The sun roof is a different story. After driving a Model Y and a couple of Rivians extensively over the past few months, I prefer a sunroof that you can actually close as opposed to a permanently open glass roof. A Rivian R1S I test drove over the summer got uncomfortably hot even with the air conditioning cranked up because of the glass roof. So, I put this in the plus category compared to Tesla and Rivian.
Charging: The Bolt’s peak fast charging rate is 55kW. By comparison, Rivian can peak at above 200kW. In layman’s terms that means you’ll get a full fast charge on a Rivian (or Tesla) faster than on the Bolt. That means longer charge times at, for example, an Electrify America fast charging station if you’re on the road. Luckily, most people charge mostly at home (where charging rates are more or less equal) so this isn’t a huge factor for most EV owners.
Wrap-up: General Motors has been making EVs longer than Tesla. Its first EV was the EV1 in 1996, followed by the Chevy Volt in 2010. To wit, GM is an old hand at making competitive EVs. It shows in the EUV, which I would highly recommend based on my driving experience. Super Cruise is icing on the cake to a fundamentally solid EV.