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2022 Chevy Bolt EUV first drive review: Bigger, smarter and more affordable, too

Chevy's new Bolt EUV makes a strong case for itself thanks to increased passenger space and ultra-slick Super Cruise tech.

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The new design looks great in person.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

No, the new Chevy Bolt EUV isn't all that different from the standard Bolt EV hatchback; these twins are definitely more paternal than fraternal. But, the few things that do separate Chevy's compact EVs actually make a significant difference. So much so, in fact, that I'm not sure why you'd buy the regular Bolt EV at all.

Both Bolts ride on a common platform and use the same electric powertrain. Their updated exterior designs are basically identical, too, though Chevy says the Bolts don't actually share any sheet metal. In person, the EUV looks way less frumpy than the previous Bolt, with slim LED running lights up front that double as sequential turn signals, complemented by standard LED headlights below. Svelte taillamps flank the Bowtie badge on the Bolt's hatch, though these only act as running lights; the LEDs below the base of the hatch opening are the actual brake lights and blinkers.

Stretched out

Crucially, the EUV is 6.2 inches longer than the regular Bolt EV, with a 3.9-inch longer wheelbase. If you want to get picky, the EUV is also 0.2 inches taller and 0.2 inches wider than the smaller Bolt, but neither of those increases makes a tangible difference. The only other distinguishing factor is the set of side rails atop the EUV's roof. Even the 17-inch wheels seen here are used on both models.

One of the key benefits of that longer wheelbase is a lot more rear legroom. The EUV has 3.1 inches of additional leg space for back-seat riders, and thanks to the EV architecture's flat floor, there's plenty of space to stretch out. The Bolt's upright shape means there's plenty of headroom, too, though that was never really an issue with the old car. That said, the narrow stance will still have you occasionally rubbing shoulders and elbows with your passenger, especially if you're of, shall we say, more rotund carriage.

Better cabin, friendlier tech

Weirdly, the larger Bolt EUV is actually the smaller of the two in terms of cargo capacity, though only just. The EUV has 16.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats when they're upright, which expands to 56.9 cubic feet if they're folded flat. The smaller Bolt EV, meanwhile, offers 16.6 and 57.0 cubic feet of space, respectively. Again, minuscule differences. And even so, the Bolt still offers more luggage space than the Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia Niro EV and Nissan Leaf.

The Chevrolet Infotainment 3 multimedia tech is great.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

The 2022 Bolt EV and EUV have some nice interior updates, starting with a more attractively designed dashboard and better materials throughout the cabin. Yeah, there are still hard plastics on the doors and some of the cheapest-feeling turn signal and wiper stalks I've ever tested -- GM gonna GM -- but the seats are more comfortable, the climate controls are easier to use and there's a new pushbutton electronic shifter on the console. Well, pushbutton-ish -- you actually pull toggles for Reverse and Drive, which is weird. 

Unlike the old Bolt, which had a unique and somewhat confusing infotainment setup, the new EVs have a 10.2-inch screen running Chevrolet's excellent Infotainment 3 software. This interface earns high marks for its simply organized menus, crisp and colorful graphics and quick responses to inputs. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both supported, and the Bolt EUV has a standard charging pad in a cubby ahead of the shifter. One hyper-specific gripe, however: What's with the redundant control knob below the home button to the left of the screen? This is way more difficult to use than just touching the large, clearly labeled icons, and I guarantee you'll mistake it for the volume knob 75% of the time.

An 8-inch digital gauge cluster lives behind the EUV's redesigned (and flat-bottomed) steering wheel, but that's not the most important bit of tech in front of the driver. Instead, check out the LED light bar across the top of the wheel. That's right, kiddos, this EV has Super Cruise.

The EUV is more than 6 inches longer than the standard Bolt EV hatch.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Chevy, take the wheel

If the name doesn't automatically ring a bell, Super Cruise is General Motors' excellent hands-free driver-assistance tech that first debuted on the (now-deceased) Cadillac CT6 sedan. The Bolt EUV marks the first time Super Cruise is being offered on a Chevrolet vehicle, and it works on more than 200,000 miles of pre-mapped highways across the United States and Canada. No, the Bolt EUV's version of Super Cruise won't change lanes like it can in the new Cadillac Escalade, but this is one bit of tech that really separates the Bolt EUV from other electric vehicles. The only system that even comes close is Tesla's Autopilot, which despite its name, is anything but.

In the Bolt EUV, Super Cruise is a treat. Just set the adaptive cruise control and press the steering wheel icon, and GM's tech takes over the steering, braking and throttle inputs, with a sensor mounted to the steering column to make sure you're paying attention. Super Cruise works great in conjunction with the Bolt EUV's smooth electric powertrain, too, effortlessly applying more torque for acceleration and using the available regeneration to slow down.

Speaking of which, the Bolt EUV has a paddle on the left side of the steering wheel that works as an on-demand regen switch for braking. There's also a dedicated one-pedal driving mode that you can turn on and off with a button on the center console. I really like that Chevy offers these fully on, on-demand or totally off regen options. Different strokes, you know?

The other big benefit of the longer wheelbase is that the Bolt EUV has a much nicer ride quality than the standard hatch. A little more space between the wheels reduces the bouncy-bobby feeling that a lot of short-wheelbase cars have in the city or over highway expansion joints. The EUV is genuinely more enjoyable to drive -- in mid-afternoon Los Angeles traffic, anyway. I can't imagine the light steering and narrow track will make the Bolt wildly engaging out on a twisty road, but then again, that's not why people are buying these things in the first place.

The green light bar lets you know when Super Cruise is working, and the driver monitor on the steering column makes sure you're paying attention.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Average power, above-average range

The Bolt EUV has the same electric powertrain as the smaller Bolt EV, which is actually the same powertrain as the old model. A 65-kilowatt-hour battery sends power to an electric motor on the front axle, with total output rated at 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. Chevy doesn't offer any sort of dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup; you'll have to step up to something like a Ford Mustang Mach-E, Tesla Model 3 or Model Y for that.

Every Bolt EUV comes with a dual-level charge cord that has a changeable plug, letting owners hook up to both a standard 120-volt Level 1 charger or a 240-volt Level 2 outlet, and is capable of 7.2-kW charging. (This cord is an option on the base Bolt EV.) On a Level 2 charger, Chevy says it'll take about 7 hours to achieve a full charge. Both Bolts are capable of DC fast charging, too, and the Bolt EUV can gobble up 95 miles worth of electricity in about 30 minutes.

As for the all-important question of range, the Bolt EV and EUV remain competitive with other compact electric hatchbacks. The smaller EV is estimated to return 259 miles on a full charge while the larger EUV lowers that number to a still-respectable 250 miles. Those figures fare nicely against the aforementioned Hyundai Kona Electric (258 miles), Kia Niro EV (239 miles) and Nissan Leaf Plus (226 miles).

What you think are the brake lights are actually just running lights. Hit the brakes and the LEDs below the hatch illuminate.

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Cheaper and priced to compete

What's cool about the Bolt EUV is that all this new stuff -- Super Cruise, better infotainment, more room, not-as-dumpy appearance -- comes on a vehicle that costs less than the outgoing Bolt. The 2022 Bolt EUV starts at $33,395 including destination, not factoring in available tax credits, which is $4,220 cheaper than the 2021 Bolt EV. The most expensive, fully loaded EUV Launch Edition (Super Cruise, sunroof, special wheels and so on) tops out at $43,495 delivered. Any way you slice it, the Bolt EUV is pretty affordable as far as compact EVs go.

The regular 2022 Bolt EV, meanwhile, starts at $31,995 (again, including destination but excluding available incentives). Yes, that's an additional savings of $2,000, but the Bolt EV has less room for passengers, isn't as comfy on the road, doesn't have the dual-charging cord standard and locks you out of GM's awesome Super Cruise tech. Chevy believes there's space in its portfolio for the two Bolts to coexist, but I honestly don't know why you'd get the smaller version. The new EUV is a bigger, better version of the already likable Bolt, and with its great tech and low price, makes for a seriously compelling way to go electric.