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Both the i3 and the Bolt have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes and front parking sensors.
The i3 comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Bolt’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.
The i3’s corrosion warranty is 6 years and unlimited miles longer than the Bolt’s (12/unlimited vs. 6/100,000).
BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the i3 for 1 year and 12000 miles longer than Chevrolet pays for maintenance for the Bolt (3/36,000 vs. 2/24,000).
A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the i3’s reliability 39 points higher than the Bolt.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 15 places higher in reliability than Chevrolet.
The i3 REx’s maximum EPA estimated driving range on a full tank of fuel and a full charge is 200 miles, after which it can be refueled at any gas station in minutes. The Bolt’s range is only 238 miles, after which the minimum recharge time is 30 minutes for only a 45% charge at a specially configured quick charge station not available in most areas. A full recharge at a conventional charging station can take up to 50 hours.
The i3’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Bolt are solid, not vented.
The i3 stops much shorter than the Bolt:
70 to 0 MPH
Car and Driver
60 to 0 MPH
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the i3 has standard 19-inch wheels. Only 17-inch wheels are available on the Bolt. The i3 offers optional 20-inch wheels.
For superior ride and handling, the BMW i3 has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Chevrolet Bolt has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.
For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the i3 is 3.2 inches wider in the front and 2.9 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Bolt.
For better maneuverability, the i3’s turning circle is 3 feet tighter than the Bolt’s (32.4 feet vs. 35.4 feet). The i3s’ turning circle is 1.6 feet tighter than the Bolt’s (33.8 feet vs. 35.4 feet).
The BMW i3 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 to 600 pounds less than the Chevrolet Bolt.
The i3s is 5.9 inches shorter than the Bolt, making the i3 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that BMW service is better than Chevrolet. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 8% lower rating, Chevrolet is ranked 10th.
When two different drivers share the i3, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The Bolt doesn’t offer a memory system.
The i3’s front power windows open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Bolt’s front passenger window doesn’t close automatically.
If the windows are left open on the i3 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Bolt can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
The i3 has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Bolt doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.
The i3’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Bolt’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The i3’s headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Bolt’s headlights are rated “Poor.”
To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the i3 has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Bolt doesn’t offer cornering lights.
The i3 has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Bolt offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the i3 offers an optional Active Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Bolt doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.
The i3’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Bolt doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the i3 is less expensive to operate than the Bolt because typical repairs cost less on the i3 than the Bolt, including $30 less for front brake pads.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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