2019 Chevrolet Bolt vs. 2019 Tesla Model 3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Bolt are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The Model 3 doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Bolt Premier has a standard Surround Vision to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Model 3 only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

To help make backing safer, the Bolt’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Model 3 doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The Bolt has standard OnStar®, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get turn-by-turn driving directions, remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Model 3 doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Bolt and the Model 3 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee 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, lane departure warning systems and blind spot warning systems.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Bolt the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 154 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Model 3 has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

The Bolt’s corrosion warranty is 2 years and 50,000 miles longer than the Model 3’s (6/100,000 vs. 4/50,000).

Chevrolet pays for the first scheduled maintenance on the Bolt. Chevrolet will pay for the first oil change, lubrication and any other required maintenance in the first year. Tesla doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Model 3.

There are over 47 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are Tesla dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Bolt’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Bolt third among small cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The Model 3 isn’t in the top three in its category.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Chevrolet vehicles are more reliable than Tesla vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Chevrolet 4 places higher in reliability than Tesla.

Brakes and Stopping

In an emergency stopping situation, many drivers don’t press the brakes with enough force to stop the vehicle in the shortest distance. The Bolt has a standard brake assist system to detect emergency braking situations (by how hard and how quickly the brake pedal is pressed) and then automatically apply maximum braking immediately in order to help prevent a collision. The Model 3 doesn’t offer a brake assist feature.

Tires and Wheels

The Bolt has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Model 3 doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Having a flat tire is dangerous, inconvenient and expensive. The self-sealing tires standard on the Bolt can automatically seal most punctures up to 3/16 of an inch, effectively preventing most flat tires. The Model 3 doesn’t offer self-sealing tires.

Suspension and Handling

For better maneuverability, the Bolt’s turning circle is 2.7 feet tighter than the Model 3’s (35.4 feet vs. 38.1 feet).

Chassis

The Bolt is 1 foot, 8.8 inches shorter than the Model 3, making the Bolt easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The Bolt is 6.6 inches narrower than the Model 3, making the Bolt easier to handle and maneuver in traffic.

Passenger Space

The Bolt has .1 inches more front headroom, .2 inches more rear headroom and 1.3 inches more rear legroom than the Model 3.

Cargo Capacity

The Bolt has a larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Model 3 (16.9 vs. 15 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Bolt has a standard rear wiper. The Model 3 doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

The Bolt’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Tesla charges extra for heated mirrors on the Model 3.

The Bolt’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The Model 3’s power mirror controls are embedded in the infotainment system, seriously distracting drivers who have to adjust them while driving.

On extremely cold winter days, the Bolt’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Model 3 doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Bolt is less expensive to operate than the Model 3 because typical repairs cost much less on the Bolt than the Model 3, including $505 less for a water pump, $4 less for front brake pads, $148 less for front struts and $291 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Both are recommended, but Consumer Reports® chose the Chevrolet Bolt as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Bolt first among small cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Model 3 isn’t in the top three.

The Bolt was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” in 2017. The Model 3 has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The Bolt was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2017. The Model 3 has never been an “All Star.”

A group of representative automotive journalists from North America selected the Bolt as the 2017 North American Car of the Year. The Model 3 has never been chosen.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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