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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Chevy confirmed the new Z06 with 670 horsepower.

Chevrolet

After years of speculation, Chevy announced the mid-engine eighth-generation Corvette for the 2020 model year. Almost immediately, a new round of rumors took off around the potential for an even higher performance Z06 model. Chevy finally confirmed the car yesterday with a design and specs that improve on the standard Corvette in almost every way.

2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 The new LT6 V8 features a flat-plane crank and an 8,600 rpm redline.Chevrolet

The star of the show is the new 5.5-liter flat-plane crank LT6 V8. The mill churns out an unbelievable 670 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, and can rev all the way out to 8,600 rpm. Power numbers aside, the sky-high redline lets the engine wail and scream in a way that we've not heard outside of Corvette racing cars. The hand-assembled engines are paired with a single technician through the build process and each unit carries a plaque with the builder's name.

To differentiate the Z06 from "normal" Corvettes, Chevy gave the car unique front and rear fascias, 20-inch front/21-inch rear wheels, and a configurable rear spoiler designed to improve high-speed stability. The Z06 is available with lightweight carbon wheels designed to reduce unsprung weight. The car itself is 9.4 centimeters wider than the Corvette Stingray to accommodate larger wheel sizes and incorporate larger cooling air vents on the side.

2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 The Z06's interior features many upgrades over the standard car.Chevrolet

As a more track-focused Corvette, the Z06 comes with tech to improve performance and record drives. When in track mode, the Z06's Performance Traction Management system is activated, which offers five levels of torque reduction and brake intervention, and an electronic limited slip differential helps keep the rear planted.

Inside, the Z06 improves on the Stingray's cabin with seven interior color choices, three seat options, six seatbelt designs, and two interior carbon fiber trim packages. Chevy says that the car's interior has a bespoke and upscale feel that sets it apart from the standard Corvette, which itself already had a gorgeous cabin.

2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 The Z06 is wider than the Stingray to accommodate larger wheels and bodywork.Chevrolet

The 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 will be built at the automaker's Bowling Green Assembly plant in Kentucky. Chevy will build the cars in both left- and right-hand drive configurations when production kicks off in summer 2022.

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The AWD ID.4 model is on its way.

Volkswagen

There was a lot of buzz when VW introduced its 2021 ID.4 all-electric crossover with rear-wheel drive earlier this year, but there's plenty more now that the Wolfsburg automaker has added an all-wheel-drive version. The 2021 VW ID.4 AWD gets another motor onboard this compact SUV that brings all-wheel-drive traction. The SUV appeals to buyers in the snow belt states but will also tickle the fancy of performance enthusiasts. Now with motors on both the front and rear axle, there is nearly fifty percent more power, with impressive gains to horsepower and torque as well as the added battery-electric boost to that scoots the 5-seater from 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds (the RWD model took 7.5 seconds to achieve the same).

2021 VW ID.4 AWD An extra motor brings AWD to the ID.4.Volkswagen

On sale now, the 2021 VW ID.4 AWD Pro starts at $44,870, before federal or other incentives; this is a $3,680 premium over the rear-drive model. The AWD Pro S starts at $49,370; both models are eligible for $7,500 income-tax credits. It's worth noting that current delivery estimates for the AWD Pro are running into 2022. The AWD Pro trim has been rated by the EPA at 249 miles (only 11 miles less than the Pro RWD) while the AWD Pro S has been validated at 240 miles (as compared to 250 miles). The AWD Pro has been rated at 102 MPGe for city driving/90 highway/97 combined; the Pro S gets 93/98/88. Both are rated at 2,700 towing. Competitors include the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y.

While the AWD and RWD look the same outside, one exterior badge designates the newest variant with an "AWD" badge, plus it gets 0.6 inches of added ground clearance, slightly bigger brakes and sway bars. From the front, the electric SUV has smoothed jelly-bean styling that is highlighted by standard LED headlights and standard black roof rails that sit atop the body-colored roof. From the rear, it wears hatchback-like looks.

2021 VW ID.4 AWD The ID.4's cabin is tidy and upscale, no matter the model.Volkswagen

We drove both the Pro and Pro S versions, with different premium interior trims and found the Gradient Package ($1500) visually upscale and appealing. It brings a black roof with silver rails, along with 20-inch wheels and the availability of King's Red Metallic paint, as a $395 option. The Pro is well-equipped with attractive trim elements and an impressive collection of communication and infotainment technologies. Pro S comes with a glass roof with an electrically-retractable shade and front seats with leatherette upholstery and 12-way power adjustments (including four-way lumbar support and a massage system).

We drove the new ID.4 AWD over a course of 160 miles along a variety of roads to sample its handling and ergonomics. The interior has a clean and open feel with good visibility. Controls and gauges are well-placed and the seatbelts are height-adjustable, while a configurable console holds different drink sizes and has removable cupholders. A futuristic LED "Light" strip with 10 different ambient lighting selections extends across the dashboard and pulses with directional signals, incoming phone calls, navigation prompts and other in-cabin inputs (optional is 30-color lighting selection on the Pro S). Driving is also a bit futuristic with no stop/start button; the vehicle senses the approaching key and can start climate control, unfold side mirrors, unlock doors and illuminate door handles at night, among a number of other high-tech features. There is 30.3 cubic feet of stowage behind the rear seats and up to 64.2 cubic feet with the second row folded. Under the floor storage holds the charging cable and small items. Pro S has an adjustable trunk floor that can be raised and lowered and a ski passthrough.

Pushing the brake pedal triggers the ID.4 to begin motoring, with the option of a "D" mode for typical driving or "B" for a more regenerative driving experience. Travel Assist brings semi-autonomous driving. Notable is the fun and responsive torque-on-tap, well-balanced direct steering and a suspension system that allows the small compact to maneuver well through traffic and along twisty roadways, as well as an impressive turning radius. The vehicle dynamics control system is integrated with the stability control system and an electronic differential to seamlessly engage the front axle, when needed. Volkswagen has added a different asynchronous motor to the front with a permanent-magnetic synchronous motor at the back for a combined 295 hp. and 339 lb.-ft. of torque.

2021 VW ID.4 AWD The ID.4 AWD will start shipping in early 2022.Volkswagen

Carried over are 82-kWh battery packs and the 5 to 80 percent fast-charging time of 38 minutes, when using 125kW fast-charging. VW says it can add 62 miles of range in 10 minutes; home charging on a Level 2 charger is projected to take approximately 7.5 hours for a full charge.

Of note: VW includes three years of complimentary charging up to 125 kW, with any ID.4 purchase or lease; VW Group's Electrify America charging network has over 650 stations and more than 2,700 fast chargers.

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