Behind the Wheel

2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Review: Perfect commuter car for SoCal, but charging obstacles remain

The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV offers over 250 miles of all-electric range.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Southern California is the electric car capital of America. Thanks to sky-high gasoline prices, enticing state-level tax incentives, a free pass for EV drivers to travel solo in SoCal's ubiquitous carpool lanes, endless traffic (where EV's are most efficient) and a general acceptance and desire for "greener" lifestyles, you can't swing a charging cable without hitting a Tesla or a Nissan Leaf or the car I'm reviewing this week: the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV.

Also, just to be clear, the official name of the car is "Bolt EV." I assume that's to distinguish it from the similar Chevy Volt which is not an EV but a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), which has both a gasoline engine and a full electric mode that can take it more than 50 miles on a charge.

2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV The Bolt EV is a fine hatchback.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Just know that if you buy a Bolt EV, you'll spend the entirety of your time with the car clarifying to friends and family that you have the Bolt-not-the-Volt-no-Bolt-with-a-B-like-battery.

The Bolt EV is the perfect commuter car for SoCal and it might be the perfect commuter car for everywhere else, too. With enough range to get through any day, plus plentiful room inside (there's way more room than you would expect, especially in the trunk and rear seats) and truly fantastic visibility from the enormous windows and high roofline, the Bolt EV is worth a look for anyone spending some time behind the wheel every day.

So the Bolt is a great electric hatchback, sporting an EPA-estimated range of 259 miles, which is up 21 miles from prior year models. On a dedicated Level 2 charger, it can fill its electric tank in roughly ten hours and on the optional DC fast charger it can add approximately 100 miles of range in 30 minutes. This is where things get tricky, and why I'm going to abandon talk of the Bolt EV itself for the rest of this piece. If, after reading it, you fancy checking out an electric car, the Bolt EV is a terrific option and there are some seriously good deals to be had right now at many Chevy dealers around the country.

2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV The interior of the Bolt EV is spacious.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

EVs are complicated and tricky. To the uninitiated, electric cars are a bit like smoking meat. There's a lot of voodoo involved, everyone has their own opinions about the right way to do it even if they've never done it, and the people who love it really, really love it.

But buying the car is only half of the story. You also need to charge it, preferably with a dedicated 240-volt Level 2 charger. This provides a much higher rate of charge than a standard 120-volt outlet, and is basically required for owning a full-EV.

If you never drive more than 200 miles in a day and you have a garage (and you own or rent a single family house), an EV like the Bolt is a great option. You drive it around all day, draining the battery, then when you get back home you plug it in. Because your car is stationary for a lot more of the time than you're actually using it, this means there's plenty of time for it to charge back up again.

2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Charing the Bolt EV can be a tricky situation.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Level 2 charger can be purchased from a whole boatload of companies including consumer-friendly brands like ChargePoint and JuiceBox.

The concept of charging is the scariest part for potential new EV-buyers, especially if you don't have a (likely very) enthusiastic friend helping you on your EV journey. You need to have a place to install the charger, which means ideally you have a garage and you own your own home. Renting means getting the permission of your landlord and makes things complicated.

Then you need an electrician (unless you're really handy, in which case you don't need me to explain it to you) to run the line to where you want the charger, which might also involve pulling permits or upgrading your electrical box or — you see where I'm going?

2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV The Bolt EV is not unattractive.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

EVs are complicated, but they don't have to be. Buy car. Install charger. Never buy gas again. Though, to be honest, I'd probably only buy an EV as a second-car. I bet GM would be happy to sell you a new, road-trip friendly Chevy Tahoe to go with it, though.

Trending News

 
 

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder arrives on dealer lots this summer.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder doesn't have to be capable of rock crawling or deep water fording. What it has to do is service the needs of families in their daily life and give them the opportunity to competently go off-roading on rocky trails should they desire. The new, fifth-generation models does just that and adds in enough nifty features to make it among the most compelling choices for three-row SUV buyers.

The 2022 Pathfinder is thoroughly modern though not the boxy off-roader it once was. The SUV's styling harkens back to that time with a tilted, darkened C-pillar and a return to a more muscular body style. That styling makes straightforward visibility good but for shorter drivers seeing what is immediately in front of the grille is a challenge that necessitates using surround view camera technology (available only in upper trim levels) when navigating challenging terrain.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can easily handle the roads less traveled.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 that offers up 291 horsepower and torque - plenty to do the job without complaint. The SUV's nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the previous generation and delivers smooth shifts. Though low-end torque isn't as robust as I like it to be, once up over 35 mph, the Pathfinder's powertrain delivers smooth, powerful sailing.

The redesigned architecture and components underpinning the Pathfinder make it stable on the road and don't allow it to wallow on winding roads. Even off-road, the suspension provides the right blend of stability while the drive dynamics allowing the driver to feel engaged with their surroundings whether on freshly paved roads, city streets, or muddy trails.

Nissan has given the Pathfinder a 6,000-pound towing capacity and even when maxed out the engine's functionality is strong as ever. The transmission can get held up in a gear mid-range when performing this function, however, with 5,000-6,000 rpms registering on the tachometer but a quick release of the gas pedal recalibrates the offering bringing it down to a more traditional 2,000 rpm range.

The eight-seater Pathfinder clearly has the Toyota Highlander in its sights, with good reason. It's the top-selling three-row SUV in the country. Nissan boasts that three adults can fit across the rear bench seat of the Pathfinder and, as long as they're average size or smaller, the marketing talking point holds up. There is gobs more room back there than there is in the Highlander.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Nissan has given the Pathfinder ample cargo space.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Getting in and out of the third row is easy thanks to one-touch buttons on the outboard side of the second-row chairs that move the SUV's captain's seats forward creating enough room to get through to the back. Smartly, Nissan's engineers have put duplicates of these buttons on the back side of the same seats allowing third-row passengers to simply press the button to move the seat up.

The third row can also be accessed via a split between the captain's chairs as well, a space traditionally occupied by a center stowage bin/cup holders/arm rest. Owners can quickly remove the center console by opening a panel on the front and pulling the release mechanism. The one-handed operation takes seconds and the console can be easily stored in the under-floor trunk space behind the third row seat for ease.

Speaking of cargo space... The Pathfinder is one of the most spacious midsize SUVs on the market today for both passengers and cargo. There is a substantial amount of room behind the third-row seat and the under-floor storage area is nearly twice the size of the one in the Highlander. Plus, it has a feature that allows the area cover to be automatically propped up when pushed up by a user. This is especially help when carrying groceries or plants home and keeps them from being crushed.

The first- and second-row seats are suitably comfortable, even for extended periods of time and standard trig-zone climate control makes finding the right in-cabin mix easy. Bottle holders in the pockets of the front doors are exceptionally large, fitting even bulky water bottles.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder's front row seats are comfortable.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In front of the driver is a standard tachometer, speedometer, and 7.0-inch driver information display. Buyers can upgrade to a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster and head-up display but they're not reason enough to upgrade to the top-tier Pathfinder Platinum on their own.

Nissan packs the new Pathfinder with a host of desirable features that make living with the Pathfinder easier including one-touch auto up/down windows, a wireless phone charger, grocery hooks in the rear cargo area, USB ports in all three rows, second-row sunshades, rear door keyless entry, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a motion-activated lift gate.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is priced to start at $33,410 for the two-wheel drive S base model and $35,310 for the four-wheel drive S base model. The model tops out around $50,000 with destination and delivery included, which seems fair when comparing the Pathfinder to other vehicles in the market.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If you're thinking of purchasing a Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, or Highlander, do yourself a favor and schedule a test drive of the new Pathfinder when it arrives at a dealer lot near you. You may just be surprised how seamlessly it fits into your daily life compared to the competition.

Trending News

 
 

The 2022 Acura TLX has the technology enabled.

Photo courtesy of Acura

Toyota and Lexus announced that the WarnerMedia RIDE app would be coming to their models earlier this year. Now, Honda and Acura will be offering the same.

On certain Wi-Fi enabled Honda and Acura vehicles, AT&T unlimited in-car Wi-Fi users will have access to the WarnerMedia RIDE app. The app allows users to connect multiple devices in their vehicles to browse, stream and share premium content from the WarnerMedia library while on the road.

Honda and Acura vehicle owners have been able to use their on-board modem as a hot spot for connecting up to seven devices since 2017. Models compatible for the new tech include the Acura RDX (2019-present), Acura TLX (2021), and Acura MDX (2022) across all trim levels. Honda vehicles with the tech include Accord (2018-present, Touring), Odyssey (2018-present; Touring, Elite), Insight (2019-present, Touring)., Passport (2019-present; Touring, Elite)., and Pilot (2019-present; Touring, Elite, Black Edition).

The WarnerMedia RIDE App allows passengers to access 1,000+ hours of live and on-demand entertainment. The app includes hit TV shows and movies from top brands such as Cartoon Network, CNN, HBO Max, TBS, TNT and TruTV, spanning animation, entertainment, news, sports and more.

WarnerMedia RIDE app The WarnerMedia RIDE app allows users to choose their own avatar.Photo courtesy of Acura

Users can set up profiles and personalize their user exerpience with an avatar from the WarnerMedia library. Profiles also ensure age-appropriate content with options for adults to restrict access to their profiles with an access code.

"Wireless connectivity and connected car services continue to be key features for customers and our long-standing relationship with AT&T continues to be one way we deliver exciting new content to Honda and Acura owners," said Art St. Cyr, vice president of North American Auto Strategy for American Honda. "Honda will continue working to enhance the in-car experience, including the capabilities of the AT&T network and access to top content with WarnerMedia RIDE."

"We're always looking for new and innovative ways to elevate the connected car experience for our customers. With WarnerMedia RIDE, we are delivering a connected experience that's perfect for journeys," said Joe Mosele, vice president, Mobility & Internet of Things, AT&T. "Our collaboration is keeping Honda and Acura owners connected wherever they travel with hours of news and entertainment for the whole family."

WarnerMedia RIDE is available now in the App Store and on Google Play for all U.S. unlimited data plan subscribers. WarnerMedia RIDE is included at no additional cost for existing and new unlimited subscribers.

Trending News