TEST DRIVE REVIEW: Getting Rugged in the GMC Acadia AWD, the American Zombie Fighter

By Michele Spencer

There aren’t a lot of crossovers that can be called heavy duty crossovers, but this one qualifies.  GMC is ready for the zombie apocalypse with this 6 person people-and-stuff hauler that’s capable of more than urban adventures – mostly because of its torque-vectoring rear axle.  The vehicle apportions torque between the drive wheels on an axle to help rotate around a turn.  The speed of the inside wheel gets reduced at the same time the torque is maximized on the outside wheel, which is what you want to perform in turns without that typical SUV tippy feel.  This technology used to be the bastion of performance cars, so it’s quite a shock to find it on the humble GMC Acadia.  That’s why this crossover is a breakout for the segment.

2018-gmc-acadia-awd
Drop the third row to go from 12.8 SF to 41.7 SF of cargo space.

 

Check out the cargo area stats, and be further blown away:  41.7 cf with the 3rd row seats down, 12.8 with them up.   It’s not overly tall, at 66 inches, slender enough to slink through the city at 75.4 inches wide, and 193.6 long.  Betting it fits fine in most garages.

This beastie handled the streets and freeways of Los Angeles for over two hours in the worst rainstorm of the season.  Nasty wet weather barely registered a blip on the Acadia All Terrain’s radar.  Also amazing was the fuel economy:  I got 24.3 MPG in a combination of moderate highway speed travel and mild stop and go traffic conditions, beating the EPA/DOT estimates.

Trying out the sport mode in the Acadia was fun.  Easily switch between modes with the dial knob and you’re off, since there’s 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque at your disposal.  In addition to the all-wheel drive system, there’s hill descent control available in the All-Terrain trim package.

There is a gap in between the second row seats, which makes it feel very elbow-roomy for the riders in the back, but that limits capacity to 6 instead of 7, if that’s a concern.  While the second row area is very roomy, the third row is really only going to be comfortable for two kids or petite adults.

As tested, the Acadia came with all weather floor mats, which fit its rugged nature and told you that this SUV is made for off-road adventures, as if you couldn’t already tell from the roof rack and rails.

Meanwhile in the cabin, the driver and front passenger have heated seats, leather, and Bose premium sound.

The safety features on all trim levels are state of the art and include a driver alert, rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, and lane change alert.  It could have used a front or side camera, however.

Paired with handsome, rugged looks, and superior maneuverability in the super-competitive cutthroat crossover SUV segment, this is a family crossover that’s flying under the radar.  Who knows why, though.  It deserves to be a top seller for GMC, but there’s no need to wait for the zombies to invade.   Grab your twinkies and run down to the GMC dealer.

2018 GMC ACADIA AWD SLT-1

  • Engine: 3.6 liter V6 DOHC
  • Airbags: front and side impact for driver and passenger, side impact and knee for driver, and head curtain side impact for all rows
  • Brakes:  4 wheel disc, antilock brake system
  • Remote vehicle start, Teen Driver tech, rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, and lane change alert
  • Spare tire
  • Wheels:  18 inch aluminum (20 inch wheels are available as part of the All-Terrain package; see below.)
  • Leather seats, leather steering wheel, heated seats for driver and front passenger
  • Sound:  Bose premium 8 speaker audio system
  • Warranty:  5 year/60,000 miles
  • EPA:  17 mpg city, 25 highway, 20 combined
  • Price:  As tested, $48,435.00, including destination charge from Tennessee $975.00
  • Five star government crash test safety ratings

The tester was equipped with the All Terrain Package ($1800.00):

  • All wheel drive system, hill descent control, 20 inch aluminum wheels, black roof rails.

The tester was equipped with the dual skyscape sunroof ($1400.00).

The tester was also equipped with the Exterior Convenience Package ($860.00):

  • Roof rack cross rails, molded assist steps.

Also available:  Trailering Package with active tow ($650.00), Navigation ($495.00), and complete set of all-weather floor and cargo mats ($300.00).

 

 

 

TEST DRIVE REVIEW: Keeping Up With the Kias, Hybrid Edition

By Michele Spencer

2017 Kia Niro and 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid

In the past ten years, Kia’s product lineup has come a very long way.  Every time I mention that I’m test driving a Kia, the response is always the same:  they are sooo much better now than they used to be.  The brand was known for its inexpensive and boring-styled econo-boxes when they first hit the US market. While Kias are still a great bargain, it’s been said that the Kias being produced now have sophistication beyond their price tags.  Let’s take a look at two of their hybrids, the Niro and the Optima.

Kia Niro Hybrid2

2017 Kia Niro

Sure, Kia says it’s a Sport Utility Vehicle, but it’s really a pretty cool station wagon. There are those of us who think station wagons are overdue for a comeback in a big way, but the powers that be in the automotive world don’t agree, and so there aren’t too many mass-produced today.  In the meantime, Kia makes a perfect station wagon that’s being peddled to the masses as an SUV.  Whatever, Kia! If it’s 60 inches high, it’s a station wagon!  For reference, the widely-accepted-as-a-station wagon Volvo V60 and V90 models are both 61 inches high, and the Subaru Outback, also considered a station wagon, is 66 inches high.  Neener, neener, neenerI win this round, Kia.

Now that we have that out of the way, here’s the take-home message: Do you need to have that “sitting high” feeling?  If you do, look elsewhere, because a Niro is not going to work for you. And while we’re at it, if you need a luxury or refined interior, another station wagon or SUV is going to work a lot better for you. If you are looking for a no-frills people mover with high MPG, then the Kia Niro should be on your short list.

In my week of testing, the Niro got rock star gas mileage. I took two road trips from Orange County to San Diego.  On both trips, there was a blend of lousy stop and go traffic and free-flow highway driving. The Niro got 51-52 mpg on one trip and 53-54 mpg on the other.

A word on how the power system works:  It’s a gas/electric hybrid, but it doesn’t exhaust the battery first and then switch to gas, as you might think.  Rather, the Niro electronically decides which way to most efficiently send power to the wheels.  The driver can monitor in real time on the display exactly what is happening and where things stand with the range, the remaining battery power, and the amount of gas in the tank.  There’s absolutely no reason to worry about running out of battery.  (Range anxiety, what’s that?!?)

In general, the Niro chose to use gas power when traveling at higher and consistent rates of speed and electric power in stop and go and slow traffic conditions.

The Niro comes in five trim levels: Base, LX, EX, Touring Launch, and Touring.  The base version MSRP is $22,890.00. For that you get a no-frills interior (although the excellent UVO Infotainment and Connectivity system is included, so at least you’ll have that for the base price), 139 horses and 195 pound-feet of torque. This is not a car for speed demons and powerholics.  The available power works just fine for the everyday driver looking for a hybrid that is wallet-friendly, basic transportation.

The back seat passenger space is very roomy, at 97.1 SAE and 102 EPA.  The cargo area is a decent 19.4 cubic feet, and 54.5 cubic feet with the rear seats down.

The upper trim levels have all the extras, including a sunroof, Harman Kardon sound, heated steering, leather interior, and heated and ventilated seats, as well as technology extras like blind spot detection, lane departure warning, and a wireless smartphone charging pad.

Even without all the bells and whistles, it’s easy to understand why the Niro was chosen as one of the “Best Cars of 2017” by US News & World Report and was scored 4/5 by Car & Driver.

Kia Niro hybrid
Kia Niro is marketed as a small crossover sport utility vehicle.

2017 Kia Niro Details

  • Power: 1.5 liter 4 cylinder engine with 43 hop electric motor; 1.56 kwh lithium-ion polymer battery
  • Transmission: 6 speed dual clutch, automatic
  • Brakes: 4 wheel disc with ABS; and Regenerative braking system
  • Idle stop and go system
  • Wheels: 16 inch alloy (FE, basic trim); 18 inch (Touring Launch trim)
  • Warranty: 10 year/100K limited powertrain and limited battery; 5 year/60K limited basic; 5 year/60K mile free roadside assistance
  • Fuel economy, FE trim (best of all trim levels): 52 city MPG, 49 hwy, 50 combined. Touring Launch trim level: 46/40/43 MPG.
  • Price (as tested, FE trim): MRSP $22,890.  LX trim: $23,200.  EX trim: $25,700. Touring Launch trim: $28,000. Touring trim: $29,650. Add $895.00 for shipping from Korea.
  • Interior and Infotainment (FE trim): Cloth seats, UVO Infotainment and Connectivity platform, dual zone climate control, power windows, door locks, and outside windows, 7-inch touchscreen, back-up camera, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Sirius XM radio, Bluetooth, USB jack, 12 volt outlet, 60/40 folding rear seats.
  • Available on upper trim levels: leather seats, Harman Kardon sound with 8 speakers, sunroof, sunshade, leather seat trim, heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, 18 inch wheels, push button start/stop, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, wireless smartphone charging pad, driver seat position memory, power adjustable driver’s seat, smart key, parking assist.

kia.com/us/en/vehicle/niro/2017

Kia optima-hybrid_2017_snowy white pearl
Optima Hybrid in Snow White Pearl

 

2017 Kia Optima Hybrid

The Optima is a five-person, four door midsize sedan which is available in conventional gasoline engine and hybrid versions. The tester was a regular hybrid (as opposed to a Plug-In). The Optima Hybrid comes in two trim levels, Premium and EX. This week’s tester was the Premium (base) trim level, with the Hybrid Convenience Package of additional features (listed below) added in.

The Premium trim level got 44.9 mpg on average in a mix of both slow traffic and open highway driving, beating the EPA estimate of 42 combined.  (In comparison, the Accord Hybrid’s combined EPA rating is 49 MPG – but the MSRP starts at $29,605.)

The interior is nicely appointed, with knobs and push buttons for volume and air controls, in addition to a 7-inch touchscreen and a tilting/telescoping steering wheel.  Like the Niro, the base trim model features the excellent UVO Infotainment and Connectivity system (said to be better than most of its mid-size sedan competitors), but the Optima has even more standard features that kick up its competitiveness, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, standard leather-wrapped steering wheel, standard multi-adjustable driver’s seat, and standard dual zone climate controls.

The rear parking assist system (a Hybrid Convenience Package item on tester) alerts the driver with a chime if an object is detected within 47 inches of the rear of the car at under 3 miles per hour, which is exactly what is needed when backing up out of the driveway or a parking space.

Two drive modes are available, Eco and Sport.  While eco is the default, and allows the car to maximize fuel economy, the car really picks up power in Sport mode.

At 192 horse power, the Optima certainly gets the job done as far as keeping up with traffic on the freeway, but it’s not going to win you a trophy at the drag strip.  Like the Niro, this isn’t a car for those who need a powerful engine.  It’s for a different customer, a smart one.

As far as some objective analysis of the Optima Hybrid, US News & World Report gave it a score of 8.3/10; and Kelley Blue Book rated it at 9/10.

Smart people buy Kias. Really smart people buy Kia hybrids.

Kia Optima Hybrid side
Optima Hybrid in Gravity Blue
Kia Optima Hybrid side2
Optima Hybrid in Aluminum Silver

2017 Kia Optima Hybrid details:

  • Power: 2.0 liter 4 cylinder hybrid engine, 270 volt lithium polymer battery, 1.62 kwh
  • DOHC 16 valve engine, CVVT; Interior-Permanent Magnet Synchronous Electric motor
  • Transmission: 6 speed automatic
  • Brakes: 4 wheel disc with ABS – Anti-lock braking system
  • Trim Levels: Premium (base trim) and EX.
  • Safety: Dual front airbags, front seat side airbags, driver’s knee airbag, and side curtain airbags; 5 star government safety ratings (out of 5 stars)
  • Wheels: 16 inch alloy
  • Optional “Hybrid Convenience Package” on tester: Laminated front door windows, heated power outside mirrors, power adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, driver’s seat memory, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking assist, and rear center console USB and 12 volt outlet. (Add $1,795 to MSRP.)
  • Trunk space: 4 cubic feet
  • Available options at higher trim level (EX): Panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, wireless smartphone charging pad, surround view monitoring camera
  • Warranty: 10 year/100K limited powertrain and limited battery; 5 year/60K limited basic; 5 year/60K mile free roadside assistance
  • Fuel economy, Premium trim: 39 city MPG, 46 highway, 42 combined.
  • Price (as tested, base trim): MSRP $25,995. EX trim: $30,990. Add $895.00 for shipping from Korea.
  • Interior and Infotainment: Dual-zone climate controls, 7-inch touchscreen, UVO Infotainment and Connectivity System, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Sirius XM radio, Bluetooth, front seat area USB port and 12 volt outlet, cloth seat trim, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, leather wrapped steering wheel, supervision meter cluster with LCD display.

kia.com/us/en/vehicle/optima-hybrid/2017

 

 

 

Carcentric Museums in Southern California

All-American muscle on display at the Murphy in Oxnard, California.

There’s no shortage of museum space devoted to things that run on engines in Southern California.  Here’s our curated list.  If we missed one, let us know so we can include it.

AUTOMOBILE DRIVING MUSEUM, 610 Lairport Way, El Segundo. Wide range of years and types of vehicles, from turn of the century to modern.  Home of Shirley Muldowney’s dragster.  Small collection of British race cars. Every Sunday, guests are given rides in selected historics. Monthly themed events spotlight certain vehicles and draw in private collectors’ show cars – check the website as they are added frequently and to sign up for displaying yours.  On-site vintage ice cream parlor.  Old Packards and Lincolns are displayed in a very nicely recreated 1930s-1940s sales salon.    theadm.org

CALIFORNIA ROUTE 66 MUSEUM, 16825 South D St., Victorville.  760-951-0436.  Where to go to learn about the history of the Mother Road.  Free admission.    califrt66museum.org/

CREVIER CLASSIC CARS, 365-B Clinton St., Costa Mesa.  Many 1930s and 1940s Packards and other classics – both permanent collection and for sale. Free admission. crevierclassiccars.com

JUSTICE BROTHERS RACING MUSEUM, 2734 East Huntington Dr., Duarte.                  Tribute to the Southern California racing brothers Ed, Gus and Zeke.  More than 200 cars and racing memorabilia.  626-359-9174.        http://www.justicebrothers.com/racing&museum.htm

LYON AIR MUSEUM, 19300 Ike Jones Road, Santa Ana.  Not just planes – cars too.  Highlight may be the 1940 Helms bakery truck, used to deliver bread and pastries to homes in Southern California, back when such things were ordinary.  Sigh.  lyonsairmuseum.org

MARCONI AUTOMOTIVE MUSEUM, 1302 Industrial Dr., Tustin.   Former racer Dick Marconi’s pet project.  70 vehicles in a nice open setting in a low-key industrial area. Lots of Ferraris, his favorite marque.   marconimuseum.org

MOTO TALBOTT COLLECTION, 4 E. Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley (No Cal).  Founder Robb Talbott got out of the winery and necktie businesses, and opened this museum in 2016 as a house for 140 vintage motorcycles, including flat track racing bikes, as well as vintage posters and motorcycle-related historical pieces and art.  $12 admission.  mototalbott.com

MULLIN AUTOMOTIVE MUSEUM, 1421 Emerson Dr., Oxnard. Founder Peter Mullin’s art deco-inspired home to vintage Bugattis and other one-of-a-kind classic cars, with an emphasis on European marques.  Visiting hours are second and fourth Saturdays and tours are set up during weekdays, by appointment only.  805-385-5400.  mullinautomotivemuseum.com

MURPHY AUTO MUSEUM,  2230 Statham Blvd, Oxnard.  Launched by founder Dan Murphy in 2012.  Variety of classic cars, vintage trailers, American muscle cars, a model railroad,  and vintage clothing displays; and red,white and blue motorcycle signed by Evel Knievel.  $9 suggested donation for entry fee.  (805) 487-4333  murphyautomuseum.org       

NHRA / WALLY PARKS MOTORSPORTS MUSEUM, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona (at the Fairgrounds)    Extensive collection of race cars of all types and classics, together with many historical artifacts of drag racing.  Discounts for Auto Club members.  909-622-2133.   nhramuseum.org

NETHERCUTT MUSEUM AND COLLECTION, 15151 and 15200 Bledsoe St., Sylmar.  Over 130 antique, vintage and classic cars, dating back to the turn of the century.  Free admission.   nethercuttcollection.org

PETERSEN AUTOMOTIVE MUSEUM, 6060 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.   The largest collection of cars in Southern California, housed in the former May Co. building in the Mid- Wilshire area.  Multiple collections on several floors of everything from Hollywood cars to one of a kind vehicles acquired by the museum.  Multiple ongoing exhibits, check the website.   Themed events monthly.   A must for anyone visiting the area.  Allow an entire morning or afternoon.   petersen.org

RIVERSIDE INTERNATIONAL AUTOMOTIVE MUSEUM, 815 Marlborough Ave., Riverside.  Collection of race cars and memorabilia related to the former Riverside race track, Ontario speedway, and other California tracks that are gone with the wind.   [NOTE:  the website says that the museum is temporarily closed and the collection is being digitized, with the owners trying to arrange a permanent display location for the artifacts in the collection.  Check the website before going.  The plan is to have the collection on the website.]     riversideintlautomuseum.org/

 

updated 1/9/2018

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LA AUTO SHOW – Reveal of the 2018 Mazda 6 Sedan (and other Mazda news)

By Michele Spencer

 

November 29, 2017 – Mazda proudly unveiled its refreshed and redesigned Mazda 6 at the Los  Angeles Auto Show, running now through December 10, with its brand new turbocharged engine, a first for the mid-size sedan at the top of the Mazda sedan lineup.  250 horsepower and 310 feet-pounds of torque are powered by the 2.5 liter Skyactiv-G engine, which Mazda previously offered only in its CX-9 SUV.

The “dynamic pressure turbo” mechanism in the engine is specially designed with a compression device, which allows air to push out from the turbo much harder.

It was a wise move by Mazda to expand the 2.5 liter turbo engine into its flagship sedan, which needed more power to challenge the European sedans in the segment.

Available in Spring 2018, the new Mazda 6 refresh includes a fully redesigned upscale interior.   Materials such as Sen Wood (used in traditional Japanese furniture and musical instruments like taiko drums) and fine nappa leather grace the cabin, to show that the Mazda 6 has evolved with “mature elegance.”

The front seats have been completely redesigned in order to be more ergonomic, with wider seats built from high density urethane for improved body support.  Seats are also available with cooling and heating functions, a first for the brand.

New tech goodies include a 360 degree view monitor, 8-inch display, and windshield projected head-up active driving display.

 

Its exterior has a new headlamp system and a new front grille to complement its aggressive and sporty design elements.

Pricing was not announced at the auto show.

The Mazda 6 stays true to the Mazda philosophy that the experience of driving is of primary importance.  This guides the development of each Mazda vehicle.  Mazda sees cars as much, much more than just driving devices.  This dedication has allowed the Mazda lineup to earn awards for driving experience.

Moving forward, Mazda’s goal is to create a lifetime bond with its customers, by crafting affordably-priced vehicles that provide a quality driving experience.  Look for Mazda to expand beyond its Mazda 6 with features that are found in more costly marques.

As part of the introduction of the 2018 Mazda 6, top executives stated their company was committed to the internal combustion engine.  Mazda will develop alternative power but will primarily focus on refining the capabilities of the traditional gas engine, while minimizing the effects on the environment.

[Fun Fact:  Mazda is the only manufacturer whose entire lineup complies with the United States’ federal emissions (CAFE) standards.]

Also revealed along with the 2018 Mazda 6 were the VISION concept coupe and the 2018 IMSA series race car, of course in red, and bearing the traditional number 55.  Mazda-Vision-Coupe-concept-rear

Mazda’s racing season in 2018 will be a partnership with Team Joest.  Six drivers will be at the wheel throughout the racing season.

As for the future, engineers at Mazda have the Skyactiv-X engine ready to be put into new vehicles in the next two years.  This next-generation technology will be a 2 liter engine with compression ignition.  It will have better fuel economy, use less fuel, and increase power/performance.  Look for it in late 2018 in the Mazda 3.

Click below for a three minute video explanation of how the compression technology works.

Next Generation Gasoline Engine SKYACTIV-X: SPCCI / 次世代 …

Video for mazda spcci skyactiv x video

 

TEST DRIVE REVIEW – The 2017 Chevy Bolt EV is The Best Electric Vehicle Deal of the New Millennium

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV – The Best Electric Vehicle Deal of the New Millennium

by Michele Spencer

When the decision has been made to go all electric in that next vehicle, there’s a secondary decision that must also be made:  luxury or basic.

The high-end EV buyer will be looking for expensive interior materials, probably wood and leather, with state of the art technology, including self driving mode, and the car’s style must be futuristic and look costly.  The price tag of the high end buyer’s vehicle is going to start in the $60,000s.

The buyer who doesn’t need interior luxury amenities, self driving mode, or Silicon Valley cred will pay far less, with the price starting at $36,620.  It is this buyer who Chevrolet has made the 2017 Bolt EV for.  Chevrolet has made EV ownership a reality for everyone, not just the well-heeled.

An automotive critics’ darling, the 2017 Bolt EV was named the 2017 North American Car of the Year, the 2017 Motor Trend Car of the Year, and Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal.

The Bolt EV wasn’t intended to do battle with the Tesla Model S, but because it hit the market way ahead of the Model 3 (which is still not readily available due to production glitches), Chevy’s Bolt EV sales numbers have been giving Tesla a run for its money, with the numbers steadily climbing each month since the Bolt EV’s introduction in January 2017.

No wonder, since the base price of the Bolt EV LT is $29,995 after the federal tax incentive is factored in.  The battery range is comparable that of Fremont’s finest, and the crossover delivers on driving experience.  For a lot less cash out of pocket, the buyer is in a quality EV with an 8 year/100,000 mile battery warranty.

The Bolt EV’s EPA estimated range is 255 miles city, 217 highway, and 238 combined. In the week of testing, it charged up to 260 consistently.

Driving the Bolt EV is a pleasure.  Any doubts about EV performance are quickly dashed.  It offers a smooth and quiet ride.  Off the line, sheer power is delivered instantly and without hesitation.  0-60 is reached in just under seven seconds.  The Bolt EV cruises comfortably at highway speed and its suspension and handling are more than acceptable.  The windshield is large, offering outstanding visibility.   The cabin is quiet at highway speed.

Electronic drive shifting is done with a by-wire lever unit similar to a manual transmission shifter, with four modes available: park, reverse, neutral and drive.  To enable regenerative braking, the driver pulls the lever rearward, then the on-demand paddles behind the steering wheel are used to regulate braking.   “One-pedal” driving is done in order to maximize range.  The by-wire shifter is more compact than traditional mechanical shifters, allowing for more than expected cabin space.

There is a back up camera standard on the LT (base trim level).  Surround vision is an outstanding safety feature on the Premier trim, on today’s tester.  Both trim levels have traction control, side blind zone alert, and rear cross traffic alert.

The tester was equipped with the Driver Confidence II package ($495), which provides Intellibeam headlamps, following distance indicator, forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, and low speed forward automatic braking.  This package is highly recommended – it’s a bargain for the safety features that it provides.

On the interior, the driver’s information cluster shows speed, driving efficiency, battery range, and regeneration status.  Three choices of readout configurations are available. The 10-inch in-dash infotainment screen displays music, phone, navigation, and heating and cooling data for the occupants.  OnStar vehicle diagnostic information (subscription required) and 4G LTE wi fi are standard on both trim levels, as is Chevrolet Roadside Assistance, which is free for the first 5 years/60,000 miles.

2017-bolt-ev-technology-INTERIOR
The driver has an easy to understand instrument display with range, regeneration status, speed, and economy.   The infotainment screen display manages audio, settings, and navigation.  The roomy cabin has plenty of storage space, legroom and elbow room.   Visibility is excellent.

On the LT trim, the interior is dark galvanized sky cool gray with deluxe cloth seat trim.  With Premier trim, the same color scheme is complimented by perforated leather-appointed seat trim.

The tester’s Infotainment Package ($485) added a wireless charging pad, Bose premium 7-speaker sound system, and dual USB ports for rear passengers, all which are worth the additional charge.

The driver’s steering wheel controls and dash controls are similar to non-EV GM vehicles and will be familiar to Chevrolet or Buick customers. The tilting and telescoping steering wheel comes standard with a heater, as well as the driver and passenger seats, with three levels of heat settings available.   There is ample storage space in the cabin, with two cup holders in front and two more in the back.  Knobs are available for audio volume control and buttons for air circulation control.  Phone pairing for Bluetooth operation is easily done through the control panel.

The Bolt EV is a crossover, so it has plenty of room in the back seat for passengers and their things, as well as cargo space in the rear hatch.

Orange burst metallic was the tester’s color ($395).  Other Premium trim colors are Cajun Red Tint Coat and Kinetic Blue Metallic, which will add $395 to the tab.  The LT trim Bolt EV comes in Arctic Blue Metallic, Mosaic Black Metallic, Nightfall Grey Metallic, and Summit White, at no extra charge.

Bolt EV side view IMG_2930
Premium Trim level Bolt EV in Orange Burst Metallic paint.

In California, the best thing about EV ownership is HOV/carpool lane access as a single occupant.

As the EV market sits right now, there’s absolutely no way any other electric vehicle can beat the Bolt EV for what it delivers for the money:  Superior battery range, comfortable ride,  good handling, excellent technology, and all the roominess that a crossover provides.  Kudos to Chevrolet on a job well done – for the rest of us.

http://www.chevrolet.com/bolt-ev-electric-vehicle

Bolt EV back view IMG_2887

A Word on Adjusting to the EV Lifestyle

As a first-time EV owner or driver, there’s a bit of an adjustment period.  The dreaded “charging anxiety” that comes with EV ownership is caused by not knowing where to get your vehicle charged, and how to pay for it.  Knowledge is power in this regard.

If you don’t have a charger installed in your garage, it is necessary to learn where all of the EV charging stations are near your home and near your workplace.

It’s a lot like having a washer and dryer in your place versus having to go to the Laundromat to do your laundry.

The Bolt EV’s navigation system pulls up a list of charging stations in the area, but use of an app or website on your phone is recommended.  The ChargePoint and PlugShare apps are good ones that most owners use.  In my experience, most of the available public charging stations shown on the apps are owned by ChargePoint.  The problem is that the ChargePoint charging stations do not take credit cards, but rather their own prepaid card, the ChargePass.  Some shopping centers, car dealers, and hotels offer free charging.

The MyChevrolet app provides information on locations of charging stations, allows the user to check on the charging status of their vehicle’s battery, and enables remote charging initiation.

The electric vehicle infrastructure is growing, but it is not at the point where electric charging stations are easy to find or widespread at the places where people live, work, eat and shop.  Because of the current situation of limited availability of public charging stations, most EV and hybrid owners choose to incur the cost of having a charging station installed in their garage.

An optional portable charger is available from Chevrolet dealers for $535 that you can plug in overnight in a standard 120 volt outlet. This will give the vehicle 4 miles of range per hour.  This “trickle method” of charging takes substantially longer than plugging in at a charging station, but at least you’re at home while it’s charging.

If your garage has a 240 volt outlet, a 32-amp charger is available from the dealer for $699, and will give 25 miles of range per hour.

The Bolt EV calculates and displays how much time it will take to fully charge as soon as you connect to either a charger or an outlet.

An EV works best for people who have a daily commute that is predictable and who do not have the “need for speed,” since high speed causes the battery to deplete much faster.

Staying at 65-70 miles per hour on the highway is the way to maximize range.  Lead foots, be warned.   Because there is nothing even close to a nationwide infrastructure of charging stations, EVs are not road trip warriors and it would be impossible to go cross country in one.   At this point in time, they work out best for those doing mostly in-town driving.

It’s also interesting that EVs use less power in stop and go traffic, unlike their gas engine counterparts.

The EV lifestyle works for people who can charge at home in their garage.  It also works for people whose regular work place has a charging station (or 100, in the case of Hyundai’s corporate headquarters in Orange County).

If you’re able to work around the current limitations on public charging, then you’re not going to experience “range anxiety” or “charging anxiety,” and the EV lifestyle is a good fit for you.

2017 Bolt EV Details

Type:  compact crossover SUV, hatchback, five doors.

Power:  Permanent magnetic drive motor, 60 kWh lithium ion battery, 288 cells.

Range:  255 city, 217 highway, 238 combined.

Chassis:  Front independent MacPherson strut-type with direct-acting stabilizer bar.  Rear compound crank (torsion beam) with coil springs

Steering:  Column mounted rack-and-pinion

Brakes: Four wheel disc, partially regenerative

Wheels:  17 inch aluminum; Michelin Energy Saver all-season tires

Drive Mode Shifting:  Electronic Precision Shift system, by-wire shifter

HP:  200

Torque:  266 lb-feet

0-60:  Under 7 seconds

Charging:  Standard SAE Combo connector for fast charging and trickle charger (supplied standard) for 120 or 240 volt outlet charging.

120 volt charge time – 4 miles of range per hour

240 volt charge time – Full charge in 9.3 hours

DC Fast Charging time – 90 miles of range in 30 minutes

Braking:  Regenerative braking system

Safety:  Ten standard air bags, rear vision camera, surround vision (latter standard on Premier only)

Wheelbase:  102.4”

Length: 164”

Width: 69.5”

Height: 62.8”

Curb Weight:  3563 pounds

Max cargo space, rear seats down:  56.6 cubic feet.  With seats up: 17 cubic feet.

Tech:  Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, USB ports, conventional charger, 10.2 inch diagonal color touch-screen, wireless phone charging, 4G LTE wi fi hotspot, and OnStar (subscription).

Warranty:       Battery – 8 years / 100,000 miles

Powertrain – 3 years / 36,000 miles

Chevrolet’s Got the Ultimate California Cool Crossover – Meet the 2018 Traverse SUP Concept

2017 Chevy Traverse SUP concept-SEMA-2
The Traverse SUP in its natural habitat.
by Michele Spencer

The rest of the world will have to wait just a few more days until SEMA (running from October 31 through November 3), but a small group was honored to be shown the concept on the beach in Malibu, California this week.  It’s almost sad to think that it has to be shipped off to the desert to do its official duties in Las Vegas.

The gorgeous blue hues complement the ocean perfectly and capture the essence of the California beach lifestyle.

A specially made Thule rack carries the matching stand up Riviera paddleboard that comes with the package.  The concept sports gloss black bodyside molding, gloss black headlamp bezels, 20-inch black aluminum wheels,  tinted windows, and dark gray wheel opening trim.

Inside are three rows with easy fold-down of the seats in the back. Seats are embroidered with the Traverse logo.  The cargo space has an integrated liner.

The Traverse SUP concept will join approximately 20 other Chevrolet models at SEMA this week.  If you can’t make it to Las Vegas, follow the action at ChevySema.com and/or use the following social media tags:

Instagram:  #CHEVYSEMA

Twitter:  @ChevroletPerformance

Facebook: Chevrolet Performance