A no non-sense electric car without any extra shenanigans

Chevrolet Bolt has been around for less than four years, but it is one of the earliest mainstream EVs to have hit the market. The Bolt hasn’t taken the market by storm, but it is an important product for Chevrolet in the EV segment.

The automaker is constantly updating the little EV, and for the 2020 model, it comes with a few more miles in the battery pack. To put things into perspective, it is the best non-Tesla model on sale today in terms of range. The 2020 Chevy Bolt arrived at TopSpeed’s headquarters recently, and here are our impressions about this urban commuter.

What Powers The 2020 Chevy Bolt?

2020 Chevrolet Bolt - Driven Drivetrain
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The Chevy Bolt is powered by a permanent magnet electric motor that sends power only to the front wheels. If put into numbers, it makes 200 horses and 266 pound-feet of torque.

It’s quick off the line, which is the case with any EV given the instantaneous torque available from the go. However, it’s not Tesla-quick. The 2020 Bolt takes just 6.5 seconds to hit the 60 mph mark from a standstill, which is 0.9 seconds slower than the Model 3, but almost 2.5 seconds faster than the Nissan Leaf. The top speed is rated at 93 miles per hour.

2020 Chevrolet Bolt drivetrain specifications
Electric Motor Permanent Magnet
Transmission 1-Speed Direct Drive
Horsepower 200 HP
Torque 266 LB-FT
Driveline FWD
Battery Size 66 kWh
Electric Range 259 Miles
Charging Time @240 Volt 10.0 Hours
Suspension Front Independent

2020 Chevy Bolt Driving Impressions

2020 Chevrolet Bolt - Driven Exterior
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The ride quality is pretty good too and you can easily potter it around town the whole day. The highway performance is sweet, too, and you won’t feel it’s underpowered at any point. The steering offers decent feedback and responds precisely. Given the car’s regenerative system, the braking will feel a little too aggressive if you’ve never driven an electric car before, but in terms of EV standard, it is average.

Chevrolet has also provided a little paddle behind the steering wheel on the left side that increases the regenerative braking action and can be used to bring the Bolt to a complete halt. The suspension feels neither firm nor spongy and almost hits the sweet spot. All-in-all, it’s a fun-to-drive car and quite chuckable around the corners as well. Once you get accustomed to its behavior, it will keep you entertained, especially at city speeds.

How Much Range Does the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt Have?

2020 Chevrolet Bolt - Driven Exterior
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The Chevy Bolt comes packed with a 66 kWh battery pack that delivers am EPA-estimated range of 259 miles of range – up from the previous rating of 238 miles – on a full charge.

A lot of upcoming EVs are said to have a higher range, but at the time of writing, it is the best range a non-Tesla production EV has to offer. When used in real-world mixed conditions, the Bolt manages to achieve the EPA-estimated range without a hassle.

How Long Does it Take to Charger the Chevy Bolt?

2020 Chevrolet Bolt - Driven Exterior
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The Bolt takes 10 hours to charge when plugged into a 240-volt chagrining unit. You can even plug it into any three-point outlet if you just want to top off the juice. It adds about four miles of range every hour. The EV also supports fast DC charging from public stations that adds 100 miles of range in 30 minutes.

2020 Chevrolet Bolt Exterior Design

2020 Chevrolet Bolt - Driven Exterior
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On the outside, the Chevy Bolt looks like a mashup between a hatch and a utility vehicle. From some angles, it looks sharp and modern, from some a little dated. It also looks boxy, yet features all sorts of curves, cuts, and creases.

So, it all boils down to your preference and liking. Up front, it doesn’t have the stereotypical EV look and gels well with the other vehicles on road, especially in dark, solid colors. The small-grille-big-air dam combination works well here, thanks to the black treatment given to it.

2020 Chevrolet Bolt - Driven Exterior
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A black stripe runs from the headlights to the tip of the window sill on the A-pillar, making it look like sunglasses. You can see ‘Bolt EV’ lettering here. The charging point is located on the passenger-side fender. The black plastic cladding on the wheel arches and side skirts add a certain zing to it. The 17-inch wheels are wrapped in 215/50 section tires and are kind of pushed outwards to increase the sporty element. The window line rakes up very sharply at the back. Chevy has tried to give it a floating roof effect with black elements on the A- and C-pillar.

2020 Chevrolet Bolt - Driven Exterior
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The flat rear looks round-ish, courtesy of the ‘smiley-face’ tailgate. The fat taillights – rather, brake lights – sit almost with the rear windshield lining. The turn indicator signal, reverse lights, and the reflectors sit in one unit on either side on the bumper. There is a spoiler, too, with a high mounted stop light on it. A thick black cladding at the bottom wraps up the derriere. Overall, it may not please everyone, but the rear sure catches attention.

How Big Is The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt?

2020 Chevrolet Bolt - Driven Exterior
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The 2020 Chevy Bolt is not the longest or the widest EV when compared to its immediate rivals, but it is the tallest. It measures 164 inches in length, 69.5 inches in width, and 62.8 inches in height. The Nissan Leaf, on the other hand, is 176.4 inches long, 70.5 inches wide, and 61.4 inches tall, whereas the Tesla Model 3 measures 184.8 inches in length, 72.8 inches in width, and 56.8 inches in height.

2020 Chevrolet Bolt exterior dimensions
Length 164.0 Inches
Width 69.5 Inches
Height 62.8 Inches
Wheelbase 102.4 Inches
Ground Clearance 5.5 Inches
Front Track 59.1 Inches
Rear Track 59.1 Inches

The Chevy Bolt also has the shortest wheelbase measuring 102.4 inches. Nissan Leaf’s wheelbase measures 106.3 inches whereas the Model 3 takes the cake with a 113.2-inch wheelbase. In terms of ground clearance, the Leaf takes the honors. It sits 5.9 inches off the ground, whereas the Bolt and the Model 3 have an identical ground clearance of 5.5 inches.

2020 Chevrolet Bolt - Driven Exterior
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As for the track width, the Bolt has a front and rear track of 59.1 inches, the Model 3 measures 62.2 inches, whereas the Nissan Leaf is a little out of proportion with a 60.6-inch track at the front and 61.2-inch track at the rear.

How Much Does The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt Weigh?

2020 Chevrolet Bolt - Driven Exterior
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Despite having the dimensions on the shorter side, the Chevy Bolt is the heaviest EV when compared to the Leaf and the Model 3. It weighs 3,563 pounds which is nine pounds more than the much larger Tesla Model 3 and 25 pounds heavier than the aptly named Leaf. However, it must be noted that the Bolt has a 66-kWh battery pack - larger than the Leaf’s 40-kWh pack. The Tesla, well, comes with a 75-kWh battery, thus having the best battery-pack-to-curb-weight ratio.

2020 Chevrolet Bolt Interior Design

2020 Chevrolet Bolt - Driven Interior
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Step inside the Bolt and you’ll be welcomed to a rather spacious cabin. The seats are nice and comfy at the front, but the minute you start touching things around, you’ll be disappointed.

The Bolt doesn’t have a classy cabin per se. There’s nothing noteworthy or special in here. For a car that goes north of $40,000, it’s underwhelming. But, that said, everything is straightforward and functional.

Behind the chunky steering wheel is an eight-inch digital instrument cluster that displays information about the maximum, average, and minimum range, the speed, and warning lights among the other standard stuff. The Bolt also comes with the TPMS feature and the same is displayed here. On the center console is a 10.2-inch touchscreen system that supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

2020 Chevrolet Bolt - Driven Interior
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Right below are physical knobs and buttons for the HVAC controls. Most of the features in an EV are controlled using the touchscreen, so this old-school design gets a thumbs up from us. Buttons for basic controls are any day more intuitive to use than a touchscreen, especially if you’re driving alone and would need to take your eyes off the road to fiddle on the screen.

Since the center console “hangs” in the air, there’s a lot of space in front of the gear lever. Chevy has installed two cup holders, but it could’ve been utilized in a better manner. Coming to the gear lever itself, this is perhaps the only thing in the cabin that has a premium vibe to it. Nothing special about it; has the basic functions, but feels good to use.

How Spacious Is The 2020 Chevy Bolt On The Inside?

2020 Chevrolet Bolt - Driven Interior
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For its compact exterior dimensions, the Bolt is quite spacious. At the front, it offers 37.7 inches of headroom and 54.6 inches of shoulder room. The headroom is least when compared to the Tesla Model 3 and the Nissan Leaf, but the shoulder room is on par with the Leaf. The same goes for the hip room and legroom as well, which the Chevy offering 51.6 inches and 41.6 inches of space respectively. The Model 3, of course, takes the cake again for offering the most space in all the aspects.

2020 Chevrolet Bolt interior dimensions
Front Headroom 37.7 Inches
Front Shoulder Room 54.6 Inches
Front Hip Room 51.6 Inches
Front Leg Room 41.6 Inches
Rear Head Room 37.9 Inches
Rear Shoulder Room 52.8 Inches
Rear Hip Room 50.8 Inches
Rear Leg Room 36.5 Inches

Things at the rear get better for the Bolt. It offers 37.9 inches of headroom and 52.8 inches of shoulder room. The headroom is marginally more than the Model 3 and the Leaf, whereas the shoulder room is 1.2 inches less than the Tesla. In terms of legroom, the Bolt offers a lot more space than both its rivals. The Chevy offers 36.5 inches of rear legroom compared to Model 3’s 35.2 inches and Leaf’s 33.5 inches. So, if you have tall folks in the family, you know which one would suffice the best.

When you talk about the cargo capacity, the Bolt wins by a huge margin.
2020 Chevrolet Bolt - Driven Interior
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The Model 3 has a boot that offers 15 cubic-feet of space. This doesn’t increase since it has a dedicated boot area. The Leaf offers 23.6 cubic-feet of cargo space with the seats in place and 30 cubic-feet when the seats are folded. The Bolt, on the other hand, comes a cargo capacity of 16.9 cubic-feet of space when the seats are upright and 56.6 cubic-feet when the rear seats are flipped down. Airport run to get your kid back from a long vacation? Bolt to the rescue!

2020 Chevrolet Bolt Price and Warranty

2020 Chevrolet Bolt - Driven Exterior
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The 2020 Chevy Bolt is offered in two trims and here’s how they’re priced:

LT – $37,495
Premier – $41,895

The company offers an eight-year/100,000-mile limited warranty on the battery. This is on par with the warranty that its rivals offer.

2020 Chevy Bolt Competition

Tesla Model 3

left right

The Model 3 needs no introduction. It is arguably the best EV at this price point out there. It starts at $37,990 for the Standard Range Plus model that offers an EPA-estimated range of 250 miles. It is faster and quicker than the Chevy Bolt, taking just 5.3 seconds to hit the 60 mph mark and tops out at 140 mph. This comes courtesy of a rear-axle mounted motor that makes 283 horses and 317 pound-feet of torque. It is powered by a 75-kWh battery pack and takes about 8.5 hours to recuperate when connected to a 240-volt charging point.

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The cabin is very simple and almost everything is controlled by the huge touchscreen slapped on to the center console. It is priced quite reasonably when you consider the starting price, but it soon gets pricey with the top-Performance trim touching $55,000 mark.

Chevrolet Bolt vs Tesla Model 3
Chevy Bolt EV Tesla Model 3
Electric Motor Permanent Magnet Permanent Magnet
Transmission 1-Speed Direct Drive 1-Speed Direct Drive
Horsepower 200 HP 283 HP
Torque 266 LB-FT 307 LB-FT
Driveline FWD RWD
Battery Size 66 kWh 75 kWh
Electric Range 259 Miles 250 Miles
Charging Time @240 Volt 10.0 Hours 8.5 Hours
Suspension Front Independent Four-Wheel Independent
0-60 MPH 6.5 Seconds 5.6 Seconds
Top Speed 93 MPH 130 MPH

Nissan Leaf

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A pioneer and a veteran if you go by its age, the Nissan Leaf has been on the market for a decade now. No complaints on its exterior or interior aesthetics. It is quite spacious and comes with a decent amount of tech features. The only problem with the leaf is its lackluster powertrain and poor battery range. The single electric motor sends 147 horses and 236 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels. It takes about nine seconds to hit the 60-mph mark and soon fades out at 89.5 mph. Compare this to the Bolt and the Model 3 and you’ll strike it off your list almost immediately.

left right

To make matters worse, Nissan has equipped the Leaf with a 40-kWh battery pack that delivers merely 123 miles of range. It takes about 7.5 hours to replenish the battery using a 240-Volt charging point. All this could be forgiven if the Leaf was priced incredibly low, but that’s not the case. It starts at $32,525 and gets into the Tesla price bracket pretty quickly. The top SL Plus trim retails at $44,825.

Chevrolet Bolt EV vs Nissan Leaf
Chevy Bolt EV Nissan Leaf
Electric Motor Permanent Magnet Permanent Magnet
Transmission 1-Speed Direct Drive 1-Speed Direct Drive
Horsepower 200 HP 147 HP
Torque 266 LB-FT 236 LB-FT
Driveline FWD FWD
Battery Size 66 kWh 40 kWh
Electric Range 259 Miles 99-123 Miles
Charging Time @240 Volt 10.0 Hours 7.5 Hours
Suspension Front Independent Front Independent
0-60 MPH 6.5 Seconds 9.0 Seconds (est)
Top Speed 93 MPH 89.5 MPH

Final Thoughts

2020 Chevrolet Bolt - Driven Exterior
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The Bolt is a jack of all trades and master of none. While there’s no deal-breaker here, there’s nothing that will excite you either. If you’re looking at it purely for daily urban commutes, the compact dimensions will appeal to you. It is quite spacious on the inside as well, so hauling a bunch of people won’t be a ard task either.

Technology-wise, there’s a lot left to desire, considering that the Model 3 is priced in the ballpark. But, overall, the Chevy Bolt is a complete package and is a good alternative to the Tesla Model 3.

Sidd Dhimaan
Associate Editor and Truck Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. He is currently our pickup truck expert and focuses his attention on heavy-duty and off-road vehicles.  Read More
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