TEST DRIVE REVIEW: Keeping Up With the Kias – Sorento and Optima Edition

By Michele Spencer

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD and Kia Optima SX LTD

In this edition of Keeping Up With the Kias, we review two gas-powered Kias: the Sorento (a 3-row midsize SUV) and the Optima (a five person midsize sedan).

Kia Sorento 2017
The 2017 Kia Sorento is a 3 row SUV that’s a great bargain.

2017 Kia Sorento SXL V6 AWD

The Sorento is a three-row midsize SUV that fits 7 people, powered by a 3.3 liter V6 engine.  The third row’s 50/50 split seats easily fold up and down with a quick pull of a strap; the second row seats fold down with the push of a button in the rear cabin sidewall. When the third row isn’t needed, the seats can be folded flat for maximum space for cargo; it’s easy to pop them back up when there are a few extra passengers.  With the seats down, the cargo area has a segment-busting 73 cubic feet of storage space, accessible with a one-push button power liftgate.

Today’s tester is the SXL, the top trim level, in Platinum Graphite paint with a chrome grille and 19 inch wheel accents that make it extremely attractive.  Inside, there is very comfortable leather seating with Nappa leather trim, heated and ventilated front seats, power seat adjustments with memory settings, and a heated leather steering wheel.   USB and 12-volt outlets are located in convenient spaces in the front and rear cabin spaces.  The UVO “eService” infotainment system is standard on all new Kias, at all trim levels, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration systems.  There are knobs for easy volume and tuning and push controls for the heating and air conditioning, to allow for safe adjustments without having to be distracted.  Other functions are on the 8 inch touch screen, including navigation. The Infinity audio is a surround sound system.

The SXL has a large sunroof and shade, which slides way back into the passenger compartment for plenty of natural lighting.

As tested, the Sorento provides state of the art technology for collision avoidance and safety.  The surround view camera display functions beautifully for parking and negotiating tight spaces.  It is a standout feature on this Kia, in addition to the right side view camera, the front camera, lane departure warning, the blind spot detection, and rear cross traffic alert.  When freeway traffic slowed suddenly, the Sorento gave an audible alert, but it wasn’t overreacting or being overly cautious.  It was spot on.  I didn’t have any conditions occur that would have caused the autonomous emergency braking to kick in, but it is a reassuring safety feature on the Sorento that helps the driver avoid the most common kind of accident, the rear-ender.

The Sorento, like all Kias, gives the owner much more than you would expect for the money.  A friend who owns a Mercedes sedan who I took to dinner in the Sorento SXL said that the Sorento was “way nicer” than her ride.  The features and styling of the Sorento are on par with much more expensive makes.

On fuel consumption, the rating is 19 MPG combined city and highway.  On two long trips in a mixture of driving conditions I got 21.1 and 24 MPG averages.  At 290 horsepower, the Sorento is capable with normal city driving but it won’t light your hair on fire.  The torque seems a bit anemic in spite of the claimed 252 pound-feet available.

Government crash test safety ratings are not available, but there’s no reason to believe that the 2018 Sorento wouldn’t meet the five-star ratings that it garnered in 2017.

There is available all wheel drive with locking center differential for poor road conditions, or off-road excursions, making the Sorento a great choice for those who go from city to backcountry or live in areas with challenging weather.

In 2017, The Sorento picked up the highest ranking for initial quality in the midsize SUV segment for two of three years in a row from J.D. Power.  The segment is ultra-competitive, so the award is very impressive.  Keep in mind that there is a 10 year, 1000,000 mile warranty backing up every Kia sold, so it’s a pretty good bet you won’t be spending much time at the dealership service center.

2017 Kia Sorento Details

  • Power: 3.3 liter V-6 direct injection engine (SXL trim, top trim); 2.4 liter (L trim)
  • Transmission: 6 speed automatic
  • All Wheel Drive with locking center differential
  • Brakes: 4 wheel disc with ABS
  • Wheels: 19 inch chrome alloy
  • Warranty:  10 year/100,000 mile limited powertrain and limited battery warranty; 5 year/60,000 limited basis warranty; and 5 year/60,000 mile free roadside assistance
  • Fuel economy: 17 city/23 highway/19 combined
  • Price (as tested): MSRP $46,200, plus $940 for shipping from West Point, Georgia (SXL);  $44,500 (L).
  • Interior and Infotainment (SXL): Infinity surround sound audio, Navigation with 8 inch touchscreen and rear camera, UVO eServices infotainment system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, Sirius XM radio with 3 month subscription, Metallic Nappa leather seats, Nappa leather seat trim, power adjustable front seats, driver’s seat memory function, heated and ventilated front seats, heated leather steering wheel, power sunroof and shade.
  • Exterior (SXL): HID headlights with auto-leveling and dynamic bending, LED positioning, fog and tail lights, power-folding heated outside mirrors with turn signals, smart “hands-free” power liftgate.
  • Safety: dual front advanced airbags, dual front seat-mounted airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, anti-lock braking system, traction control system, electronic stability control, hill-start assist control, surround view monitoring, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection system, lane departure warning system, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking assist system.
  • HP 290; Torque 252 pound-feet (SXL); HP 185; Torque 178 pound-feet (L)
  • Cargo net for rear cargo area, optional: $50.00
Kia Optima 2017 side
2017 Kia Optima – 2 liter turbocharged at top trim levels.

2017 Kia Optima SXL

The Optima is a five-person, four-door midsize sedan which is available in conventional gasoline engine and hybrid versions. Today’s tester is a 2.0 liter turbocharged gas engine powered sedan with a 6 speed automatic transmission. The Optima comes in five trim levels.  The tester is the SXL trim, which bases at $36,090, plus $895 for shipping from West Point, Georgia.

The Optima is regarded as having state of the art features that are normally found on more expensive cars.  It should be on the short list of cars to check out when shopping for a midsize four-door sedan, as the value is amazing in this segment.

The Optima got 29.3 mpg on average in a mix of both slow traffic and open highway driving, beating the EPA estimate of 25 combined.  In mostly open highway driving, it got 31.4 mpg, making it very competitive with the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Ford Fusion.

The interior is very 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.  Even 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 available features that kick up its competitiveness, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (upper trim levels only), standard leather-wrapped steering wheel (starting at the LX  trim level), standard multi-adjustable driver’s seat, and standard dual zone climate controls.

2017-kia-optima-interior.jpg
Kia Optima interior.

The upper trim level tester was outfitted with the Harman Kardon surround sound system and ten speakers, for an incredible sound experience, plus dual USB ports and 12 volt power outlets in the front and rear cabin areas.

The rear parking assist system (standard equipment on the 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 in addition to regular mode: Eco and Sport.  When in Eco, the rpms stay low and the car adopts a restrained feel, allowing the car to maximize fuel economy.  In contrast, the car completely changes its personality in Sport mode.  Acceleration feels very strong and uninhibited, perfect for passing and entering the freeway.

What I didn’t like about the “regular” (gas) Optima was the amount of road noise; the hybrid Optima was much quieter.  The inherently noisier nature of an internal combustion engine is a given, but maybe there was more of an effort made to make the hybrid a quieter ride, knowing that the customer would expect that.  I wasn’t real turned on by the way the engine sounds, either.  It’s just not a really sexy-sounding engine.  Sort of like meat grinder meets coffee maker.  Also, there was vibration in the steering wheel and in my seat that was present all the way from idle to freeway speed.  It was a minor vibration, but nonetheless annoying and surprising, since that had not occurred in the hybrid.  It could have just been the tester that I drove.

For anyone doing any test driving at a dealership, I would recommend asking for more than one tester, including the hybrid, if the noise and/or vibration issues are present in the conventional gasoline version that the dealer provides for the road test.

2017-Kia Optima-Colors

At 185 HP (LX trim) or 245 HP (SX trim), the Optima certainly gets the job done, but it’s not going to win any  quarter mile trophies at the drag strip.  This isn’t a car for those who need a very powerful engine.

There’s no compromise on safety. The Optima garnered five star ratings in every test performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2017 Optima a Top Safety Pick, giving it top marks in all crash tests, including a Superior rating in crash detection and mitigation (when equipped with optional crash-avoidance equipment).

Edmunds gave the Optima a 4/5 rating, and Car Connection gave it 7.3/10.

The warranties on Kias are the best in the industry:  10 years or 100,000 miles (limited powertrain) and 5 year/$60,000 (limited basic) – that’s one reason why we say smart people buy Kias.  The Optima’s features are the same ones found on much more expensive cars.  All that makes a Kia a smart buy.

2017 Kia Optima Details:

  • Power:  Varies depending on trim level.  LX – 2.4 liter DOHC 16-valve l-4; LX Turbo – 1.6 liter with turbocharger;  EX – 2.4 liter; SX –  2.0 liter; SXL – 2.0 liter with turbocharger
  • Transmission:  6 speed automatic
  • Brakes: 4 wheel disc with ABS
  • Wheels: 16 inch alloy (LX), 16 inch alloy with light grey finish (LX Turbo), 17 inch alloy (EX),  18 inch machined finish (SX), 18 inch alloy with chrome finish (SXL)
  • Warranty: 10 year/100,000 mile limited powertrain and limited battery; 5 year/60,000 mile free roadside assistance
  • Price: LX trim $22,500; LX Turbo $24,140; EX $25,440; SX $29,940; SXL $36,090
  • Headlamps:  LED, with auto leveling and dynamic bending
  • Power adjustable side mirrors with LED turn signal indicators
  • Solar control glass
  • Bluetooth connectivity – hands-free smartphone
  • Rear back up camera with display of vehicle footprint
  • Cruise control with steering wheel controls
  • SXL (top) trim level features:  Rear parking assist system, surround view monitor, blind spot detection system, rear cross traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning system, lane departure warning system, LED adaptive headlights with auto high beams.

 

Electric, Hybrid and Hydrogen Vehicles

By Michele Spencer

EV market notes:  Studies show that potential buyers are still turned off to EVs and Hybrids.  Lack of options, high prices, limited range, and perceptions about limited charging station infrastructure are real issues for the industry to overcome in order to gain acceptance and market share.  Federal rebates ($7500) are still in play.  CA rebates ($2500) are in danger of going away if the Legislature does not act to save them, but for the moment, they remain available. Manufacturers are not penetrating the market: Less than 1% of car sales are electric vehicles nationwide. Foreign governments are doing a lot more to encourage electric, especially China,  which has a mandate that by 2020, 8 percent of all new vehicles sold must be electric and is currently prohibiting travel in certain cities unless the vehicle is an EV.  Norway is going all EV by 2025, France and the UK by 2040, and along with that, these countries will be prohibiting sales of new combustion engine vehicles. Japan’s government is embracing hydrogen as its power of choice for automobiles and already has extensive infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles. The movement towards zero emissions standards in China in particular is credited for motivating the manufacturers so they can capture that market and not get left behind.

July 2018 Tesla Federal Rebate News:  The $7500 rebate for electric vehicles will start phasing out for Tesla buyers ONLY at the end of 2018 because the company has delivered its 200,000th vehicle in the US.  (Tesla is the first automaker to meet this landmark.) After December 31, the Federal rebate will be $3,750 for Tesla deliveries between January and July 2019, and half that for deliveries between July and December 2019.  Tesla buyers will no longer get any Federal rebates after December 31, 2019.

This is my list of currently-available EVs, anticipated EVs to be sold, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, currently-available hybrids, and anticipated hybrids, for sale in the US, with notes from press releases and news sources.  Prices are MSRPs.

Pure Electric vehicles (EVs) Currently Available

  • Audi A3 e-tron (hatchback) from $38,900
  • BMW i3 (crossover) – from $44,450 – BMW plans to launch 25 electrified vehicles by 2025, including 12 that are fully electric.
  • BMW i8 (sportscar) – from $143,000
  • Chevy Bolt (hatchback) – from $37,495. 238 mile range, Motor Trend Car of the Year 2017
  • Fiat 500e (subcompact) – from $32,995
  • Ford Focus EV (hatchback) – from $29,120
  • Honda Clarity EV (sedan) – 89 mile range, Lease only.
  • Hyundai Ioniq (sedan) – Base trim model from $29,500; Limited trim from $32,500) – Fell short of consumer expectations on range, did not sell as well as expected. Now has 124 mile range. Available only to California residents.
  • Kia Soul EV (crossover) – from $32,250
  • Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive (sedan) – from $40,895
  • Mitsubishi IMIev (crossover) – from $22,995
  • Nissan Leaf (hatchback) – 2018 model revealed Sept. 2017; available January 2018. Nissan had to put out a new model to catch up to the others on range. The 2016 model had only 106 mile range. For 2018, the second generation Leaf has 150 mile range. From $30,875.  An “e plus” Leaf will be introduced in 2019, which will have 225 mile range.
  • Smart car ForTwo (subcompact) – from $14,650. Parent company Daimler AG announced closing of 2/3 of the US Smart car dealerships (Automotive News). 70-80 mile range. Only 27 dealers in the US will be selling these by 2018. Penske Automotive Group will continue to sell them in San Diego.  All will be EV. Gas models will be dropped from production in 2017, but may still be in stock at dealerships.
  • Tesla S (luxury sedan) – from $68,000. 210-305 mile range
  • Tesla 3 (sedan) – from $35,000), 220 to 310 mile range
  • Tesla X (luxury SUV) – from 79,500, 237-295 mile range
  • Volkswagen e-Golf (hatchback) – from $31,345

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Currently Available

  • Honda Clarity (sedan) – Lease only, from $59K. Launched 2016
  • Hyundai Tuscon ix35 FCEV (SUV) – from $50,875. Launched 2013
  • Toyota Mirai (compact) – from $57,500.  Launched 2014
Tesla Model 3 LA Auto Show 2017.jpg
Tesla Model 3 at the Los Angeles Auto Show 2017

EVs Not Yet Available + Projected Production Year  + Notes

  • Audi e-tron (midsize luxury crossover) available 2019.  Will have 311 mile range. A sportback will be launched later in 2019 (fastback that will sit lower than an SUV but offers a more elevated seating position than a standard hatchback.)  Audi’s third EV will be a compact, based on VW Group’s new MEF platform for EVs.  It will debut in 2020, after VW debuts its ID compact hatchback.
  • Aston Martin  Rapid E – 2019. Will transition entire lineup to all EV and hybrid by 2030.
  • BMW “iVision Dynamics” (coupe style sedan) – Concept revealed at 2017 Frankfurt Auto Show.  Production version slated for launch in 2021.
  • Bollinger Motors B1 (all wheel drive 4×4) – Hopes to start production in 2019. 10,000 people are claimed to be on the waiting list.  Pricing to be announced.
  • Byton (Crossover SUV) – Concept revealed at Consumer Electronics Show in January 2018. Will initially be sold only in China. U.S. sales “to begin later.”  Reservations are being taken.  Pricing:  Starts at $45K. Entry trim level will have 250 mile range; upper trim level will have 325 mile range.
  • Detroit Electric Motors – To be announced
  • Dyson – 2019 target for launch of its first EV, from the vacuum company.
  • Faraday Future FF 91 (luxury SUV) Release date is unknown – Scrapped its plans to build North Las Vegas factory, instead is refurbishing a former Pirelli tire factory near Silicon Valley; many rumors of financial issues with its Chinese investor.
  • Fisker Inc. EMotion (sport sedan) – 2020 – 400 mile range, can charge in 9 minutes
  • Ford “Model E” (crossover) – 2019 – 300 mile range.
  • Genesis “premium long distance” sedan – 2021 – 310 mile range
  • Honda “Urban” EV (concept) Revealed at 2017 Frankfurt Auto Show – Production will be for Europe only. Looks like a 1st gen Civic meets Mini Cooper; tiny, with retro styling.
  •  Hybrid Kinetic Group H600 (luxury sedan) – Chinese startup, plans to launch H600 in US in 2019-2020.  Designed by Pininfarina.  804 HP.
  •  Hyundai Kona (small SUV) – second half 2018 – 242 mile range
  •  Jaguar I-Pace (5 seat crossover)  – Available summer 2018, this is Jaguar’s first fully electric/battery powered vehicle. Built on a unique aluminum-intensive platform by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria. 220 mile range. 400 HP from twin electric motors. Jaguar/Land Rover says it will go all EV and hybrid by 2020.
  • Kia Niro EV –  Concept revealed at the 2018 Consumer Electrics Show in Las Vegas; will likely be the first of 16 advanced powertrain vehicles Kia aims to introduce by 2025. Plans include a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle also.
  • Lucid Air (luxury sedan) – Release date unknown – Production starting in the 2020s. 200 mph, luxury interior.  Its plan to build a $7 million factory in Casa Grande, AZ has been on hold pending financing.
  • Mazda – Recently announced a platform partnership with Toyota to produce its first EV.  It will come out with a “pure EV in 2019” but did not say what model or type of vehicle.  Will come out with a plug in hybrid after that.
  • Mercedes Benz – Parent company Daimler says it will bring 10 new EVs to market by 2022; it is expected that some or all will be under the subbrand named “EQ.” The first vehicle released will be the EQC (compact crossover) in 2019, with 300 miles of range claimed.
  • Mini E – Due in late  2019 – No details released.  BMW announced in July 2018 that it signed a deal to make EV Minis in China in a partnership with Great Wall Motor Co. No dates for groundbreaking or production released.
  • Morgan EV3  (3 wheel roadster) – EV version of the Morgan 3.  120 mile range. 56 HP. Production to begin late 2018.
  • NIO ES8 (luxury SUV) – Chinese startup revealed concept in 2017; first deliveries expected in US in 2020.  “Tesla-type vehicle for China” that seats 7.  Sold only in China for now. “Our goal is to built a robot that looks like a car.”  Will have swappable batteries to help combat charging station anxiety.
  • Pagani – EV coming. details TBA.
  • Porsche “Mission E” (sporty 4 door coupe) – Looks like cross of a Panamera and 911.  Available in late 2019 – early 2020. 310 mile range is goal.  Price is $85K. No final specs. Goal to charge 80% in 15 minutes; 60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds; top speed 155+.  Three AWD models to be produced with HP of 402, 536, and 670. No hybrid 911 coming – Porsche killed the project because of battery size issues; may be resurrected if they can engineer a lighter battery.  Porsche says it will add PHEVs and electric variants to its lineup.
  • Renault Zoe EV – Available late 2018 – early 2019.
  • SF Motors – To be announced
  • Subaru – Crosstrek PHEW (small crossover SUV), production 2019, followed by a full EV (unnamed model) in 2021.  Subaru has joined the EV Common Architecture Spirit Co. formed in September 2017 with Mazda, supplier Denso, minicar specialist Daihatsu, and truck manufacturer Hino to develop its EVs.
  • Tesla Long Haul Semi Truck – Prototype unveiled November 26.  “In a couple years” is the production goal.  Will have 200-300 mile range. Will be testing in Nevada, which allows robo-truck prototype testing.  $15k deposit.
  • Tesla Model Y (small crossover) – Production to begin in 2019 at factory yet to be built in China.
  • Tesla “Roadster” (four place convertible) – Production slated for 2020.  Will cost $200k.  $50k deposit.
  • Tesla Pickup Truck – Production will begin after the Model Y at factory in China.
  • Volkswagen – ID Buzz (microbus) – Range of 270 expected. 2022 is target.
  • Volkswagen –  ID Crozz (crossover) – 2022 – 302 HP, 311 mile range.
  • Volkswagen -ID platform Beetle (four door coupe or convertible – not a typo re the number of doors BTW) – Available at the earliest in 2020, but probably later than that in reality.  No details on range or pricing.
  • Volvo – All models will be EVs or hybrids by 2019.  It has plans to introduce three EVs between 2019 and 2021.  Its Polestar subbrand will release two EVs between 2019 and 2021.  The Polestar vehicles are expected to be similar to BMW’s M and Mercedes-Benz’s AMG badges.

Alliance 2022 – Collaboration between Renault, Nissan & Mitsubishi plans to roll out 12 EVs. “With the emissions rules coming in, it’s the end of gas” per Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Alliance. EVs are the future not because of consumer demand, but due to regulations on emissions.  By 2040 we will be done with diesel and gasoline car sales.  Common platforms (4) will be used; no details on any concepts.

Hybrids Currently Available

  • Audi A3 Sportback e-tron (hatchback) – Plug-in hybrid. From $40,475
  • Chevy Volt (hatchback) – Plug-in hybrid. From $33,220
  • BMW i3 (hatchback) – From $44,550
  • BMW 530e (luxury sedan) – Plug-in hybrid. From $52,400
  • Chrysler Pacifica (van) – Hybrid and Plug-In hybrid versions. From $39,995.  84 mpge and 566 total range.
  • Fiat 500e (subcompact) – From $32,995
  • Ford C-Max Energi (hatchback) – Hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions.  From $32,950
  •  Ford Fusion Energi (sedan) – Plug-in hybrid.  From $33,305
  • Honda Accord Hybrid (midsize sedan) – from $29,605
  • Honda Clarity Plug-in hybrid (midsize sedan) – from $34,290
  • Honda Civic hybrid (compact sedan) – from about $27,000
  • Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid (sedan) – Should be available 2nd half of 2017. Blue (base trim) from $23,035; SEL trim from $24,785.
  • Hyundai Sonata (midsize sedan) – Plug-in hybrid. From $34,600.
  • Karma Revero hybrid (four door sports sedan) – 51 mpge, 300 total range, 403 HP, 21 kwh battery capacity. From $130,000.
  • Kia Niro hybrid (compact crossover) – from $23,240.
  • Kia Niro (compact crossover) – Plug-in hybrid. Available late 2017 to early 2018. From $22,890
  • Kia Optima Hybrid (midsize sedan) – from $25,995
  • Mercedes-Benz C350e (small luxury sedan) – Plug-in hybrid. From $46,400
  • Mercedes-Benz S550e (full size luxury sedan) – Plug-in hybrid. From $96,600
  • Mini Cooper SE Countryman All4 Plug-In hybrid (hatchback) – from $37,650 – Only 12 miles of electric range.
  • Mitsubishi Outlander (SUV) – Plug-in hybrid.
  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid (SUV) – Plug-In hybrid.  From $79,900.
  • Porsche 918 Spyder (sports car) – Plug-in hybrid. From $847,000.
  • Porsche Panamera 4-E Hybrid (sports sedan) – Plug-in hybrid. From $99,600
  • Toyota Prius Two Eco (sedan) – Base model from $26,050 and Prius Prime – Base model from $27,100.
  • Toyota RAV-4 Hybrid (crossover) – 194 HP.  3 trim levels.  Base model from $27,235.
  • Volvo XC90 (large luxury SUV) – Plug-in hybrid. From $64,950.

Hybrids Not Yet Available

  • Bentley Bentayga Plug-In Hybrid (ultraluxury crossover) – Second half of 2018. Bentley plans to introduce plug-in hybrid versions of all models.
  • Bentley Continental GT Plug-In Hybrid – After debut of Bentayga.
  • Bentley Flying Spur and Mulsanne (sedans) – Unknown debut date, after GT.
  • BMW i-8 Spyder hybrid (roadster) – On sale in 2018 for the 2019 model year.  BMW not releasing any details. Expected to come out with a fully electric version in 2022.
  • Ford Expedition – Late 2019
  • Ford F-150 – 2020
  • Ford Mustang – 2020
  • Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid – 2019
  • Honda CR-V Hybrid (crossover) –  prototype at 2017 Shanghai Auto Show.
  • Honda Insight (compact to mid-size sedan) – 2019
  • Infiniti Emerg-E – concept revealed in 2012, no announcement on final design, production date, or range/mpge.
  • Jaguar F-Type (sport sedan) – The F Type will have “an electrified powertrain,” no details announced.  Available approximately 2020.
  • Lamborghini Urus (sports car) Plug-In Hybrid – Available 2019.
  • Lexus 500h Hybrid – 2018
  • Lincoln MKC Plug-in Hybrid (SUV) – 2019.
  • Mazda Plug-in Hybrid – After 2019.
  • Mercedes CLS Hybrid (four door coupe) – Debuted at 2017 LA Auto Show. Expected to be available in 2018.
  • Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid – From $185,450.  Available early 2018.
  • Volvo XC60 T8 Plug-in Hybrid (midsize luxury SUV) – Late 2017 or early 2018. Debut at OC International Auto Show (9/2017) 400 HP.  From $52,900.
  • Volvo S 90 Plug-in Hybrid (sedan) – Available 2018.

Chevy Volts and Bolts Century City Boltaversary

Updated 8/12/2018   

[For additional information on the low emission vehicles listed, we recommend https://www.greencarreports.com/ ]

 

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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