Super Cruise is good, but not enough to distinguish this attempt at an electric CUV.
The previous Chevrolet Bolt was a solid EV with an affordable price tag and enough battery to fulfill the needs of most owners. But a questionable form factor and a cabin that simply wasn’t up to par held it back from achieving mainstream appeal.
Whether the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV will sway customers from the raft of competitors coming along is another matter. Yes, this new Bolt variant looks and feels more like a crossover, but in the same way that putting on an Ushanka hat makes you look and feel more like a Russian. At the same time, the updated Bolt wears flashier, more modern design, but its proportions are still solidly on the awkward side. Where the EUV deserves unrestrained praise, though, is with its new interior and the addition of GM's excellent Super Cruise driver-assistance system.
Editor's Note: Because the Bolt EUV debuted just a few weeks back, Chevy used early pre-production cars for this test. The company granted us an hour of seat time along a highway-heavy fixed route and in a lead-follow format, ostensibly to test the Super Cruise system. For that reason, we aren't issuing a verdict score or discussing range/charging until we can fully assess the Bolt EUV. Expect a follow-up first drive with retail-production vehicles in May.
Zip, Zap, Zop
So, what are you getting in the EUV over a standard Bolt EV? In terms of actual vehicle, not much. There's an extra 2.9 inches between the EUV's axles, and it's a healthy 6.5 inches longer overall. But it's barely wider and, worryingly for a vehicle that GM is doing its darndest to pitch as a crossover, the overall height increases just two-tenths of an inch.
Unsurprisingly, the interior measurements are almost identical, too. Yes, second-row legroom expands from 36.0 inches to 39.1 inches, and that's the sort of substantial improvement that's worth writing home over. But other changes to the dimensions are both negligible and rarely in favor of the EUV – cargo volume is down slightly, from 16.6 cubes to 16.3, for example – even if overall passenger volume expands from 93.9 to 96.5 cubic feet. Except for folks in the newly embiggened second row, sitting in the Bolt EUV feels like sitting in last year's model. That is, until you start looking around and realize, “Hey, Chevy did an interior.”
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Material quality represents a huge improvement over the pre-facelift Bolt. And keep in mind, we're saying that about an early pre-production unit with some unfinished trim pieces. There's a fair amount of plastic, but it's well executed – semi-soft and textured door panels contrast with a leatherette-trimmed dash and attractive piano-black plastic. The painted aluminum-look finish on the flat-bottom steering wheel (shared with vehicles like the Trailblazer) is a cut above the norm, while the seat upholstery and the matching dash inserts tie the cabin together.
The new design works, with the Bolt EUV ditching the open layout for the front seats and adopting a dedicated center console. A Honda-like gear selector system feels more durable than the plastic shifter from yesteryear, while revised climate controls are both attractive and easy to suss out.
Tech Takes Center Stage
Underneath that tweaked body sits the same familiar package, and that's fine. The lone front-mounted electric motor is still good for 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, and it works alongside a decently sized 65.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. The EUV takes a small hit to range, at 250 miles to the regular Bolt's 259, and a small increase in weight, from 3,589 pounds to 3,679. Considering all this, we expected the EUV to drive just like the Bolt and it didn't disappoint – this is a relaxed, easy to manage, front-wheel-drive EV.
The big addition to the drive experience is a dedicated button for one-pedal driving. Previously, drivers called up full regeneration by holding down a wheel-mounted paddle for as long as they wanted the effect, but the EUV offers constant regen at a press of the button. The Bolt remembers, too, so once you activate the regen, it stays on. This feels like a more modern approach than the old paddle (which remains), and should encourage more one-pedal driving.
But where the EUV distances itself is with Super Cruise, which finally – finally – comes to a non-Cadillac product. It's as impressive as ever, dramatically reducing the driver's workload while traveling on highways. During our hour-long session, the system inspired confidence, managing the vehicle and its speed progressively and reacting well to sudden intrusions in our lane.
While the Bolt EUV's older electrical architecture can't support the whole host of Super Cruise's abilities – automatic lane changes, for instance – this is still a smart piece of technology, offering clear indicators for when it's available, working, or unavailable. We'd recommend it wholeheartedly.
Super Cruise aside, though, the tech suite here is familiar. Chevy retained the Bolt's old 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster but added a new operating system for the central 10.2-inch touchscreen. We've experienced this system in other GM products, but it felt faster and more responsive in the Bolt EUV. We'd expect a similarly speedy update when the regular Bolt arrives too.
More Of The Same
The EUV is a better experience than the standard Bolt, but only just. At the very least, it feels more like the crossover Chevy pitched the original as. Our hour-long test was enough to demonstrate that the Bolt is a good, affordable EV whether it’s 163.2 inches long or 169.5.
But it also put into stark relief that while Chevy has a more crossover-like EV, it’s still a featherweight facing down a group of middleweights. Volkswagen, Nissan, and Ford all have EVs now (or will soon) that match the Bolt's range, offer as much or more space, best its performance, or surpass it in terms of style. But more than that, they offer dual-motor layouts and the all-wheel-drive effect it provides.
This brief drive showed us the promise of Super Cruise in an electric vehicle has been worth the wait.
Yes, they are more expensive – the Bolt EUV starts at just $33,995 and the Premier trim rings up at $38,495, while the ID.4 and Mach-E each start at or above $40,000, depending on spec. But Ford and Volkswagen can pair their larger vehicles with tens of thousands of federal tax credits available, and while GM has been generous with incentives for the Bolt, its supply of Uncle Sam-backed rebates is long gone. The price advantage for this sub-compact isn’t as large as the company would like you to believe.
This brief drive showed us the promise of Super Cruise in an electric vehicle has been worth the wait. But it also left us thinking that GM's ultra-competent driver aid, and perhaps some extra rear leg room, is the only good reason to consider the EUV over the standard Bolt in the first place. This remixed Bolt feels like a missed opportunity for a company that's known little else in its quest to electrify.
Bolt EUV Competitor Reviews:
Gallery: 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV: First Drive
2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV Premier