- Affordable, fun electric commuter with decent range
- Dual-level (L1 and L2) charge cord and free installation of Level 2 charger
- Button for one-pedal driving
- No Super Cruise like the Bolt EUV SUV
- No sunroof
- We hoped for more significant material upgrades
The Chevrolet Bolt compact electric hatchback impressed us so much when it first hit the market, we named it the 2017 MotorTrend Car of the Year. It was bold and fresh, ushering in a new era of fun electric cars that made sense as everyday drivers.
For the 2022 model year, Chevy gave the Bolt a needed update to compete with an exploding number of new EVs, hoping new clothes on the old emperor would be enough to win the title again.
“It’s still dorky, but with a bit more edge,” digital director Erik Johnson said, “like a Math Olympics champion who just discovered leather jackets.”
The Bolt is an affordable commuter car with a range of 259 miles from its 65-kWh battery, which is competitive for its segment. GM squeezes all it can from its aging electric architecture; the five-passenger car does not migrate to the new Ultium battery system, which would provide greater range.
“I’m continually impressed with how fun the Bolt is to drive,” features editor Christian Seabaugh said. “It would’ve been really easy to phone this one in and make another commuter car, but the Bolt is more than that. It’s torquey, well balanced, and a bit silly. It’s weirdly a solid GTI alternative.” Senior editor Alex Stoklosa agreed, noting the “chassis is well tuned, comfortable, and controlled.”
Technical director Frank Markus was less impressed. He said the Bolt “attacks the winding track like a motorized baby stroller.” He found it easy to overwhelm the tires and brakes.
Many judges appreciated the one-pedal driving button, and senior editor Conner Golden said the electricity regen paddle “turns driving into a bit of a game.” Markus also noted, “This is the only electric car here that coaches the driver every day toward eco driving, by coloring the ring around the speedometer green or yellow.”
The updated Bolt has better seats in a roomy interior with a push-button electric gearshift that frees up space. The 10.2-inch touchscreen features crisp graphics and is well integrated into the dash. Johnson thought the new interior was an improvement in both design and material choices, but some judges thought the quality could be better in this $36,165 model. It also lacks a sunroof.
Chevy dropped the price $5,500 for 2022; you can get a Bolt for $31,995. It was the lowest-priced EV until Nissan saw that sticker and dropped the price of its Leaf to $28,375 for the S, which has a range of just 149 miles. A comparable Nissan Leaf Plus (226-mile range) starts at $33,375. The Bolt also comes with free installation of a Level 2 charger.
While improved, the 2022 Bolt is not a COTY finalist. “The first Bolt was a revelation; this one is merely an evolution,” Golden said. “The EV landscape has changed monumentally in the five model years since the original, and while this updated car is still a strong entrant, the game isn’t the same.”
View every 2022 Car of the Year contender here
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