Rightsizing your vehicle to daily needs makes a lot of sense. If you’re driving a big truck around every day to work, and nobody else or their belongings ride with you, you’re throwing money away day in and day out. So, it makes sense to move to something that actually makes sense on a daily basis.
But, people who commute in a pickup truck often have a good excuse: that monthly run to Home Depot, or the occasional trip where they take their kids in the truck instead of sending them with their spouse in the minivan. It’s no lie that those extra seats and that cargo capacity are extremely useful, even if they don’t get used every day. Being able to get in the same vehicle you drive every day and cover those odd tasks that come up is worth it to many Americans.
Instead of arguing over who’s right here, I decided to try to find a win-win solution for my family.
For 90% of my driving, my Bolt EUV does the job fantastically. It has the range to cover all of my normal needs, and most unusual days, too. It has seating for most of my kids, and if I fold the seats down, it has room for the big grocery runs we do once or twice a month. Life is great. Sadly, though, we still do occasionally need some extra capacity. Yes, like most home-owning families, we have that occasional trip to get supplies at Home Depot. Sometimes extended family needs to move. There are also those trips to the lake, mountain biking, and camping trips where it all just doesn’t fit in that car that’s “just the right size” most of the time.
Many “sane” people would trade in their vehicle in this situation. Get something bigger, and with more cargo room. But this was the EV I could afford, and trading it in for something bigger would mean going back to gasoline. That might fly if I wrote at any old car website, but this is CleanTechnica. We don’t trade in EVs for gas-powered jalopies here.
So, instead of doing the “sane” thing, I decided to do things the European way for once. Over there, they use smaller vehicles to pull trailers all the time. This idea that you need a truck to pull a trailer is probably the punchline to some European jokes. Maybe I’m a penny-pinching weirdo, but getting things done with a $32,000 vehicle makes a lot more sense than trading it in for an $80,000 electric pickup truck I can’t afford.
Torklift’s Stealth EcoHitch
I reached out to Torklift to see if they’d let us review one of their hitches, and fortunately they already had a decent design ready to go!
Plus, they seem to really like CleanTechnica, because they offered to let me not only review their hitch, but keep it afterward. Given the great experience other CleanTechnica writers have had with them (and we have no reason to lie about a product just to keep it, because we don’t need crappy products laying around our houses), I would have been a fool to not go for it.
We generally like things to be interesting in life, and many people like surprises, but when it comes to things you spend big money on and need to work, we usually just want things to work as advertised. If there’s an instructional video telling you what to do (above), you want things to go just like the video said they would.
While I’d like to write a whole lot more words about the installation process, the happy truth here is that things went just as advertised and depicted in the video. We removed what kept the bumper on, removed the bumper, put the hitch in behind the inner bumper, and then put it all back together in reverse. Everything went the way it was supposed to, except my Bolt EUV is white and theirs was blue.
Workmanship was excellent. I noticed that the welds on the EcoHitch were all clean and nice, and there wasn’t a single thing on the hitch that made it look cheap or home-made. It was so nice looking that it was almost sad to hide it all behind the bumper again at the end!
The only thing the video doesn’t show is wiring. Torklift supplied me with a four-conductor wiring kit for trailer lighting, which I installed at the same time, and written instructions were included in the kit. But, once again, the instructions covered everything and the wiring kit went in easily. With no cuts or splices, the wiring kit they sell intercepts running lights and turn signals and provides plenty of power for trailer lighting via a 12v wire that runs under the car (tucked away by the side of the battery pack).
I won’t get into every little detail, but I can confidently say that everything went as described and as advertised. As long as you have the right tools on hand, you’ll have no problem getting the hitch installed. If the video and instructions intimidates you, there’s also no shame in having it professionally installed after it comes in, so literally anybody can buy this hitch.
One of the things that makes a hitch so widely useful is how many different things it can work with. A standard 2” receiver can hold up bike racks, cargo trays/baskets, and trailer balls, among many other things.
I could already tell the hitch and its mounting strategy were sound. I didn’t really see any need to test putting in a cargo basket or a bike rack, because that was obviously going to work just fine. I have those things, but there’s just no reason they wouldn’t work like they should. The only word of advice I’d give for this particular vehicle’s EcoHitch is that it comes in pretty low, so that you don’t have to cut the bumper during installation (a very good thing). So, if you’ve got a weird basket or rack that goes even lower (designed for a truck), you will need to replace or adapt it to prevent dragging it on driveways.
On the other hand, for normal receiver accessories that wouldn’t drag, having your bikes or other cargo sitting lower is better both for aerodynamics and handling, so this is still a very good thing.
When it comes to trailers, I had someone in the extended family suddenly need to move on relatively short notice. I already had the hitch installed, and they needed me to help them with two vehicles to get them moved faster. My other vehicle (an Acura MDX) was busy towing their camper, so we had to run down to U-Haul to rent a cargo trailer to get the rest of their things right away.
I had only planned on towing 1,000 to 1,500 pounds, either in the form of a small cargo trailer or a small popup camper. But, for this sudden need, I rented a 5×8 enclosed trailer, which U-Haul says weighs 900 pounds empty. For one load, we filled it to the top with boxes of belongings and small furniture items, and there’s no way this was below 1,100 pounds. So, we were pulling somewhere in excess of 2,000 pounds with the Chevy Bolt, and I carried along four adults to help move things quickly.
While I could tell the Bolt EUV had to work harder to move all of that, it didn’t struggle. I had no problems pulling the weight of the trailer, the people, and the things in it. I had no problem keeping up with normal traffic (with some extra room for safety, of course). I didn’t even have to touch the brake pedal on the EUV, as the regenerative braking was enough to stop it even with that load. The low and heavy battery pack made for terrific towing stability, too. The naysayers will be along to tell us that the Bolt EUV doesn’t have a tow rating, but I couldn’t tell from towing with it.
I probably won’t tow this kind of weight on the highway, as it would have serious impacts on range, but for around town it did just fine at this level. There’s no reason a Bolt EUV can’t tow smaller campers long distances, as long as you slow down a bit and use the normal safety precautions you should always use with towing (leave plenty of space in front of you for braking, etc.).
The only “gotcha” I ran into was that the Stealth EcoHitch design has to come in really low for maximum stealth and a no-cut install. This means that you’ll need to come up with an adjustable hitch riser to keep trailers level. You’ll also probably need a small extension of some kind to get the raised trailer ball behind the bumper.
In my case, an adjustable aluminum hitch ball from Harbor Freight did both of those things, but only if I used it backwards. The 6” riser instead pushed the ball further out, while the normal receiver part held the ball up at just the right height. If you need more rise or drop, you’ll need to find a hitch setup that gives the little bit of extension needed to clear the bumper.
Personally, I’m not bothered by this because I think it makes for a more compact design that’s easier to remove from the vehicle and stash away under the false cargo floor when not in use. It also keeps the empty receiver from catching you in the shins if you leave it in between towing jobs.
With this hitch setup, I’ll be able to start using my Bolt EUV for more things, including an upcoming trip to Home Depot. I’m also looking at towing a small camper on trips. All in all, I’d say that this hitch design makes the Bolt EUV a much more useful vehicle while not getting in the way or looking bad on normal days.
Without hesitation, I’d recommend this hitch to anyone else looking to expand the capabilities of their EUV.
All images by Jennifer Sensiba.
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Source: Clean Technica