Like all good Clean Technica writer, I do long-term reviews of any clean vehicle I buy, borrow, lease, or spend time with the manufacturer. A recent email from GM’s OnStar service tells me I’ve had the vehicle for about a month, so now seems like a good time to give readers an update. Really, a month is enough for the “I bought a new car!” feeling of fading a little, and for more objectivity watch the vehicle arrive.
If you want to review what I’ve written so far, be sure to check out my first thoughts on the car hereand my tale of taking it on rough dirt roads here. me too discuss GM and power company EVSE installation rebate claim here.
The OnStar email gave me a simple number for the month, in which I drove about 1600 miles: 97 MPGe. On first reading, 97 sounds like a terrible MPGe number, but it’s a number that needs to be put into context.
EPA ratings for the Bolt EUV are 125 city and 104 highway (because EVs are generally less efficient on the highway, which is the opposite situation than combustion vehicles). EPA road tests are usually not very realistic to start with (they have very slow freeway speeds and simulate traffic slowdowns), and on top of that, I live in the western US where highway speed limits almost always start at 7, and sometimes start at 8. Most of my driving was on roads with a 75 MPH speed limit, the rest of the local driving mostly on a freeway at 65 MPH. This roughly translates to “Go 80 or get run over” most of the time.
So given that I’ve spent a lot of time above EPA freeway speeds, it makes sense that I’m seeing this average.
That works out to about 2.8 miles/kWh, and ABRP’s OBD connection tells me the car says it has a usable battery capacity of 61.4 kWh. For those unaware, the battery is still 66kWh as advertised, but GM is smart and puts a buffer on top and bottom of the battery to make sure it doesn’t get damaged. The 2.8 miles/kWh times the 61.4 kWh gives an 80 MPH range of just over 170 miles, which is pretty good considering the speeds involved.
ABRP gave me other nuggets of efficacy information. Benchmark consumption at 65 MPH is 3.43 miles/kWh (292 Wh/mile). This figure is what the ABRP uses as a benchmark when calculating available range on planned routes, and I found the predicted battery remaining at charging stops to be very accurate. So 3.4 miles/kWh at 65 on flat ground seems like a good number that matches the real world.
The first warranty repair of the car
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that the car had something broken the day we bought it, and it happened before we even left the lot. The car’s infotainment unit had one of these temporary screen protectors, and when my wife removed it, a piece of the corner of the screen came off with it. It was obviously a minor factory defect (weak plastic on that corner or something), so they immediately placed an order for a replacement screen.
The only thing that was annoying was that I couldn’t pick it up quickly after the screen arrived, and I got a frantic call from the dealership saying they were going to have to pay a base fee if we didn’t get it. by the next day. It was during a chaotic bathroom renovation that we already had going on, so I got my tired butt there and took a nap while they replaced the screen.
I think GM needs to work more with suppliers to be more flexible on part replacement times and base charges when a customer can’t come in quickly for a repair.
A minor annoyance with the infotainment
Speaking of the infotainment system, I had two occasions where Wi-Fi interference wiped out my Android Auto session and it didn’t immediately reconnect. When I tried to reconnect manually, it just didn’t work, so I had to go without Android Auto until I could turn the car off, open the driver’s door, and leave the vehicle behind. reboot completely.
I know the 2017-21 Bolts could restart the infotainment by holding down a button, but I can’t find any such instructions on the Bolt EUV, and nothing I’ve tried resulted in a restart other than stopping the car and turning it off completely.
I’m not so unrealistic to expect perfect computing. I know that even the best systems will sometimes fail, and I’ve otherwise been happy with the infotainment system and wireless Android Auto (but not the myChevrolet app). The only thing I’d really like to see is a simple procedure for restarting the infotainment system while driving so I can get my Waze back on screen and get my music back.
Another Unpaved Adventure
After a nice walk on a fairly rough dirt road near Ruidoso, New Mexico, I decided to take the EUV on another off-road adventure. The trip was a bit rushed so I didn’t take any good photos, but I took it to the Chiricahua Mountains in southeastern Arizona. I had never been there and didn’t know what to expect, but the roads looked pretty decent on google maps (not the first time I’ve done more than what I thought so).
The drive from near El Paso was not bumpy at all, which is a good thing. A full battery got me all the way to Lordsburg, NM with about a quarter battery left, and I got a fairly full charge at the Electrify America station before pulling off the highway for the post- noon/evening.
The drive to Portal, Arizona was also uneventful except for some absolutely stunning scenery as we watched storms pass over Portal on the New Mexico side. But, since I was there for sightseeing and fun, I didn’t bring my proper camera. I’m still kicking myself for this decision, because this is what I could have had a better chance on:
But, even though I missed some great photo opportunities, I still had a great time and hit some rough trails that most people wouldn’t think the EUV could handle (the The US Forest Service warns: “High clearance vehicles are highly recommended. 4WD also beneficial, if available. “). We did a loop from the small town of Portal to the American Museum of Natural History’s Southwest Research Station, through Paradise, Arizona, and back to Portal.
Along the way we went through washouts, some pretty rocky roads (which had been made worse by the popularity of side-by-side UTVs), several modest water crossings, and a number of places where I needed the front camera to make sure I wasn’t going to scratch anything. Even when the road was downright awful, the suspension kept things comfortable.
So, as I’ve pointed out before, EUV is a good budget-friendly EV option for people who live in or frequent areas with roads like this. The only caveat is that I haven’t tested such roads when it’s muddy or snowy, so it might only be a good summer option if you live far out in the woods.
I’ll be revisiting the area soon to see the fall colors, and I’ll bring a good camera next time! But, I still managed to get a decent image from a phone:
All images by Jennifer Sensiba.
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