First Drive

First Drive: 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV is the best car if you have a highway-heavy commute

The Chevrolet Bolt EUV enters the market for the 2022 model year.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Traffic is back. During the height of lockdown last year the roads were empty and it was smooth sailing wherever you needed to go, but that's over (thank goodness).

While I missed traffic for a while, I'm thinking that was an anomaly. Now, it's an annoyance again — but General Motors (GM) has the answer. It's called Super Cruise, and it's been around for a few years but on a very limited basis: namely, in the Cadillac CT6.

That's Cadillac's flagship sedan, which GM doesn't sell terribly many of and it's been a waiting game to see which vehicles Super Cruise would head to next. First was the new 2021 Cadillac Escalade, which has been heavily advertised but also costs more than $100,000 (and Super Cruise has extremely limited availability because of production and supplier issues).

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV The 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV has more cargo space and rear-seat legroom than the Bolt EV. Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

But now there's the new 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV, which is a new version of the Bolt EV that I drove last year, complete with a longer wheelbase, refreshed look, and that commuter killer app: Super Cruise.

Forget the car for a minute and let's talk Super Cruise. Standard adaptive or radar cruise control uses cameras and a radar sensor to determine the speed of the car in front of you and your distance to it. With that information, the car can automatically slow to match the speed of that car and keep you from driving into it.

The advantage here is that you don't need to use the pedals at all when adaptive cruise is activated - all you need to do is steer. This is great for stop-and-go traffic, because the car handles all the tedious braking and accelerating, while you can focus on your true crime podcast or whatever and just steer the car. But, you still have to steer. That's where Super Cruise comes in.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV The 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV has Super Cruise as an option. Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

GM has taken laser-scans of just about all of the limited-access highways (think roads with exit ramps and without stoplights) in the United States. With that information, its cars fitted with the Super Cruise feature can actually STEER THEMSELVES down the highway. That's right, you don't have to touch the steering wheel at all when you're driving (unless the system has an issue like bad weather or particularly bad sun glare).

It really works, too. I tested it in the new 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV on the highways around Los Angeles last week and it was magnificent.

When you're on an eligible highway (basically all interstates plus some other major thoroughfares), a tiny steering wheel image illuminates on the dash indicating that the system is ready to go. Press a button on the steering wheel and... you're off. A large strip at the top of the wheel illuminates green when the system is operating and you can take your hands off the wheel entirely.

It steers for you, keeping you centered in your lane while the adaptive cruise control maintains speed. It's the only system on the market today that offers true hands-free driving.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV The cabin of the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV is spacious. Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Now this isn't "self-driving" or "autonomous" driving. You're still required to pay attention to what's going on and no watching Harry Potter on your phone while you do it. There's a small sensor that looks at your eyes to make sure you're keeping them on the road at all times. No napping allowed!

But the car takes over 85 percent of the work of actually getting you down the road and you just keep an eye on anything weird that might be going on up ahead. Super Cruise can't do anything about deer wandering in front of you, nor will it handle people moving into your lane from the side — it only looks forward, so you're on your own for weird things like that.

But the system really, truly works and that means the Chevrolet Bolt EUV is by far the best car on the market for driving to work if you have a highway-heavy commute. Oh, and it's all-electric and should get somewhere around 250 miles of range, all for around $43,000 (the federal tax credit is gone for all GM vehicles, unfortunately).

Though my concerns about on-the-go charging remain (see my review of the Chevy Bolt EV last year for more), as a second car or commuter car, the Bolt EUV is the best option on the market simply because of how good Super Cruise is. It's a game changer, and I'm thrilled that it's coming to more cars.

By the way, Super Cruise is coming to theGMC Sierra for 2022, too.

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Electric vehicle features

The VW ID.4 sounds futuristic

The ID.4 is VW's first electric crossover in the U.S.

VW

The Volkswagen ID.4 is finally here. The electric crossover offers compelling features, decent all-electric range, and a reasonable price. On top of all that, Volkswagen focused heavily on the electric experience with the ID.4, down to the sounds it makes in everyday operation.

Where many automakers seek to humanize electric vehicles with familiar gas engine sounds, Volkswagen hasn't bothered with any of that. Instead, the automaker's ID.4 electric crossover features several sounds that embrace the EV's place in the future of transportation.

On startup, drivers are greeted with a sound that Volkswagen says will alert them that the vehicle is ready to go. It's not at all unlike the flying saucer sounds heard in sci-fi movies decades ago, but it's a nice reminder of the ID.4's future-forward drivetrain.



In motion, VW gave the ID.4 what is known as an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System, which helps alert people to the presence of a moving electric vehicle. Since the drivetrain doesn't make the same noises that a gas engine does, EVs can move almost silently at low speeds, so it's important to have some kind of warning sound.

Even the turn signal sounds received scrutiny in the ID.4's design, and while they're still fairly traditional, the sounds are subtle and pleasing overall. Beyond that, VW says it developed a library of sounds for typical vehicle control buttons and other functions that are exclusive to its electric vehicles. The goal, according to the automaker, is that the sound aligns with the vehicles' character, visual design, and features, and that people will be able to recognize a VW EV by its unique sound.

The ID.4 is just the first of several EVs that Volkswagen plans to release here in the United States. Larger family vehicles are on the horizon, and we may even see an electric revival of the legendary VW bus.

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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.

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