I drove a $44,000 Chevy Bolt for a weekend and discovered 2 things the automaker needs to improve

Mark Matousek / Business InsiderThe Chevy Bolt’s gearshift.

  • Near the end of July, I spent a weekend driving a $US44,000 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier.
  • I enjoyed the Bolt and didn’t find any major problems, though I did notice two small but annoying features.
  • The Bolt’s gearshift wasn’t as intuitive as I would have liked.
  • And the seat-side compartment behind the gearshift was also difficult to use.

Near the end of July, I spent a weekend driving a $US44,000 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier. It was my first experience driving an electric vehicle in real-world conditions for more than an hour, and by the end of the weekend, I understood the hype around the Bolt.

Released in late 2016, the Bolt was the first non-luxury electric vehicle with a range of over 200 miles per charge, beating Tesla’s Model 3 to market by seven months (though Tesla has yet to deliver the $US35,000 base version of the vehicle). Car reviewers praised the Bolt, with Business Insider’s Matthew DeBord calling it a “masterpiece” and Motor Trend naming it the best car of 2017.

The Bolt didn’t have any major problems, though I did notice two small but annoying features.

The first is the Bolt’s gearshift. While I adjusted to many of the Bolt’s features within a few hours, the gearshift never felt natural. While it’s simple in theory – you press down on a button on the side of the gearshift and move it in the appropriate direction – it wasn’t as intuitive as I would have liked. To park the car, you press down on a button on the top of the gearshift, which can feel strange if you’re used to a more traditional gearshift. And between my two experiences with the Bolt, it took me nearly 10 hours to figure out how to shift from “low” mode to “drive” mode without putting the car in neutral.

The seat-side compartment behind the gearshift was also difficult to use. Opening it requires you to push down and back simultaneously, a process that wasn’t always immediately responsive. I got the sense that the compartment could cause distractions even for longtime owners.

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