2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Update 3: The Dislike Button


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Long before Facebook introduced cartoon “reactions,” there was a disorganized campaign to pressure the company into adding a “dislike” button so users could acknowledge a post about something bad without “liking” it. If my long-term Bolt had a “dislike” button, I’d put it in one of the three button blanks in the middle of the dash under the temperature control.

I realize those blanks are there so Chevrolet can add more features in the future, and I appreciate that the functional (on the left) and nonfunctional (on the right) buttons are symmetrical rather than scattered about like some other automakers do it. I’m sure it saves a few cents per car not to design a different set of buttons for cars without certain options. It still looks silly to me to see all those empty spaces on a car that was fully loaded when it left the factory. For nearly $44,000, we can do better on the midcycle refresh.

Prominently positioned button blanks bother me in any car, but there are a few other issues I’ve had that are specific to the Bolt that Chevrolet ought to consider when it updates the car in a couple years.

The biggest is an intermittent power steering failure. Three times now, I or another editor has started the Bolt only to find the power steering not working. You can still turn the wheel, but it takes a lot of muscle to both turn the wheels and the dormant electric motor. Each time, turning it off and on a few times has solved the problem, but that’s a bandage. We’ve taken it to the dealer, and they’ve pulled some stored error codes, none of which is linked directly to the steering. Because the car naturally didn’t act up at the dealer, they’ve requested more time to look into it, and we’re scheduling a multiday follow-up appointment.

Also occasionally acting up is the big infotainment screen. Twice now it’s failed to boot up properly, getting stuck on its welcome screen or remaining dark. Turning the car off and back on a couple times fixes it. It can also get hung up for a while if you shift into reverse before the screen has finished booting—that requires it to bring up the rearview camera. If you’re too quick for it, just be patient, it’ll unfreeze after a few seconds.

Speaking of the rearview camera, it’s a low-resolution unit that produces a slightly out-of-focus image on that big screen. I know, higher-resolution cameras cost more, but riddle me this: if cost is the issue, why is there a second camera right next to it on the tailgate for the video rearview mirror? Why not just use the hi-res camera for both?

Cost most likely explains another common complaint about the Bolt: the front seat bottoms are really narrow. So narrow that even our skinniest staff members have complained that the only way to sit in them comfortably is with your knees together and pointed straight forward at all times. Otherwise, the support structure under the thin thigh bolsters digs into your glutes. Narrow seats are physically smaller, requiring less material and less space, which in turn save money and are lighter, which is good for EV range. This is taking it too far.

My other issues with the Bolt are—like the button blanks—less consequential. With that big infotainment screen, I really wish there was a navigation option. I’m sure leaving out the wiring for the antenna saves a little cost and weight, but it’s a worthwhile trade-off. I prefer Google Maps to Apple Maps, but Apple CarPlay won’t run it on the big screen. What’s more, even in Los Angeles there are places with poor cell phone coverage where no map app is going to do me any good. The same goes for OnStar navigation, which I’d have to pay an extra subscription fee for anyway. Make it an option, and let the consumer decide.

If Chevy really wants to cut the cost on this car, they can save a few bucks by tossing that video rearview mirror I mentioned earlier. By flipping what is usually the manual nighttime dimmer switch on the rearview mirror, you switch the regular mirror to a hidden video display that fills the mirror. It seems like the future, but it’s a much better idea in theory than in practice. The camera displays a fixed, limited field of view. With a mirror, you can broaden your field of view just by changing the angle at which you look at it. Moreover, even with this high-resolution camera, I can see better detail in the traditional mirror than on the video screen, especially at night. I also find the change in perspective distracting. A mirror allows me to see immediately behind me as if I’d turned my head, and the camera is like sticking my head out the back window. It takes the brain a moment to process the change versus just glancing in the mirror. I can also see the back seats with the plain old mirror, but I’ll admit the camera comes in handy on the rare occasion I fill the cargo area to the roof, which is hard to do given its shape.

While we’re at it, we can also give this electronic shifter a rethink. Getting into neutral requires pushing the shifter forward and holding it there for several seconds, which is unintuitive. Given that sudden acceleration scandal a few years ago, this should be easier. Getting to Low, which ups the regenerative braking and is my preferred driving mode, requires me to pull back on the shifter twice every time I start the car rather than just letting me go straight to Low. For the record, I’m not a fan of the BMW shifter it’s aping, either.

Lastly, and this goes for all automakers, lose the glossy black plastic on the C-pillars. No one believes the roof is floating above the car because you stuck some black trim there. The Bolt Concept looked better without it.

Touch upon these few minor annoyances, and Chevrolet will have an even more compelling EV on its hands when the updated model arrives. In the meantime, we’ll keep you updated on the power steering thing.


2017 Chevrolet Bolt Charging Update 3
Odometer 8,063 miles
Avg distance between charges 96.7 miles
Avg pre-charging state of charge 51%
Avg range pre-charge (ideal/predicted) 130/110
Avg energy per charge 26.68
Avg predicted charge time 5h, 41m
Avg post-charging state of charge 91%
Avg range post-charge (ideal/predicted) 251/210
Cost of public charging to date ($7.22 avg) $136.39
Cost of office charging to date ($1.99 avg) $67.17
Cost of home charging to date ($3.66 avg) $26.34
Total charging cost to date $229.90


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