Mountain Wheels: Bumped-up Bolt, racy Equinox add to Chevrolet’s SUV options

With available all-wheel drive and a 247-mile range, the somewhat larger Chevrolet Bolt EUV offers expanded room for passengers and cargo.
Courtesy photo

I remain just a little confused about the “U” part of the new Chevrolet Bolt EUV, the marginally enlarged new version of the existing and extremely affordable Bolt electric car. Families looking for hauling capacity are probably better served pricing out a traditional, actual SUV like Chevy’s Equinox RS, especially with winter driving in mind — or wait a year and check out the 2024 Equinox EV, which is on its way

But if you’re one of those hearty mountain EV advocates who’d like reliable and largely domestic technology, at just over $43,000 (a price that includes the $2,200 Super Cruise package that even last week’s Escalade did not) … well, it’s another option, with all-wheel drive also available. More impressively, the standard Bolt now sells for about $27,000, both prices are before any of the now-confusing array of EV credits.

The 2023 Bolt EUV Premier is a good indication of what GM’s emerging range of EVs will be like, both inside and out, with the new Blazer EV first in the pipeline and early versions of even the Hummer EVs now hitting the streets.

That is, rather understated in its interior design, perhaps even sparse by other brands’ standards, with a very grey plastic interior, large and simple-to-read displays for your EV stats, and a slightly more versatile 56.9 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats dropped.

In terms of EV performance, it’s still pretty impressive, with an official EPA range of 247 miles on a full charge, in warm weather, on flat roads, at sea level. Your actual results will vary, I would guess. During my drives, the readouts told me I got up to 4.1 miles per kilowatt-hour.

Given that it’s only 3,589 pounds, lighter than a Tesla Model 3, it also goes like hell, pretty much all of the time. There’s 947 pounds of battery (the new Hummers’ batteries are about 2,300 pounds, by comparison), but Bolt EUV can make its 200 horsepower, 65 kilowatt-hour, system feel like you’re driving a go-kart and absolutely fly.

It is not, however, imbued with performance brakes or performance suspension, and though the modified shape means taller rear seat headroom, I would keep its diminutive size in mind while attempting land-speed records. Maybe take it easy and use the easy-to-activate one-pedal driving, or yank on the left-side-of-the-wheel regeneration paddle for more electronic braking.

Charging stats suggest you’ll get up to 95 miles of range with a super-fast charger, or between 25 and 37 miles of range per hour at a Level II charger, with seven to 10 hours required for a full charge there.

Meanwhile — and actually more affordable than the Bolt’s EUV version — the Chevy Equinox offers a sprightly, pleasant and more capacious experience, with a 1.5-liter turbo providing surprisingly effective motoring and an easy 30 mpg.

Assembled in Mexico, the $36,020 Equinox RS all-wheel drive is not quite as plain as GM’s even-smaller, Korean-made models, with a tastefully downsized rendition of Chevy’s SUV designs — lots of sculpted swoops, red outline stitching and the RS’s blacked-out leather seats, dark chrome and black on black everywhere else, including the wheels and roof rails. You can also go super-austere and get a standard front-wheel drive version of the car for a $26,600 starting price.

Here, the 175 horsepower from that little turbo made for a largely pleasant weekend of 350 miles of highway driving earlier this year, with somewhat lower mileage in the uphill stretches but steady numbers in the higher 20s elsewhere. Car and Driver complained how much it missed the Equinox’s old 2.0-liter engine, as you might expect them to do; with a curb weight less than the Bolt EUV, I think budget-minded drivers might find the Equinox just right.  

Space here is of course not Escalade-level but also not bad, with 63.9 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats dropped, and almost 30 cubic feet behind those seats. Rear seat room is also pleasant, with almost 40 inches of leg room. An $895 entertainment package added a heated steering wheel, USB plugs and an 8-inch color touchscreen.

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