We just added this 2024 Polestar 2 Single Motor, billed as a “long-range” model by its manufacturer, to our long-term test fleet. With an EPA-rated 320 miles of driving for every full charge, that “long-range” claim appears to be accurate. Eager to assess the veracity of Polestar’s claims, we prioritized vetting our new electric fastback’s capabilities on a road trip right away.
California is set up reasonably well for those intending to road-trip in an electric car, even if all drivers aren’t yet able to make use of Tesla’s Supercharger network. As someone who grew up in Northern California and now lives in Los Angeles, I’m all too familiar with trawling Interstate 5, the highway that cuts through the state’s Central Valley. In more than a decade of living in L.A., I’ve only ever made the journey in gasoline-powered vehicles, so the Polestar 2 presented me with my first-ever opportunity to take an EV road trip.
Based on the in-car navigation and charging planning, which comes courtesy of built-in Google Maps, we’d need to stop twice—once just north of Buttonwillow and a second time closer to Gilroy. With my range anxiety in check, it was time to hit the road.
What Actually Happened
Loading up the car is easy work. The Polestar 2’s trunk has a clever divider that flips up to fit bags and prevent baggage from sliding around. There’s also an under-floor cubby for additional smaller objects. The cargo area measures 15.5 cubic feet, which is ample but shy of other luxury hatchbacks like the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe with 16.6 cubic feet and the Audi A5 Sportback with 21.8 cubic feet. Still, there’s more than enough space for two carry-on bags, a duffle, two backpacks, and a couple other small grocery bags.
Setting off into L.A. traffic just before rush hour the day before a holiday (a foolish endeavor in hindsight), we faced a multi-hour slog as we trundled up the river of concrete leading up to the infamously treacherous Grapevine in northern L.A. County. Thanks to regenerative braking tuning that inspired confidence, creeping through bumper-to-bumper congestion wasn’t as frustrating as what I’m used to experiencing in a gasoline-powered car.
Although we expected to encounter traffic, we couldn’t have predicted that a semi-truck towing hundreds of metal pipes would overturn at the point where the Grapevine spills into the San Joaquin Valley. After enduring two hours of near-standstill traffic from the backup that ensued, we decided to make a bold pivot that would test the Polestar 2’s long-range claim.
With about 20 miles between us and the beached semi, we ducked off I-5 at the first available exit, sending us toward Tehachapi and then Bakersfield on what would turn out to be a 63-mile detour. Fortunately, most of the driving from that point onward was downhill, and the Polestar 2 continued to project that we’d have enough range to reach our destination north of Buttonwillow. The curvy roads through the mountains provided some much-needed entertainment, as well, and our test car’s 49/51 weight distribution contributed to enjoyable handling and poised chassis balance.
Rejoining I-5, we continued toward our initial first stop, having now been in the car for about five hours. Our woes weren’t over just yet; the in-car navigation told us all of the chargers at our first stop in Bakersfield were full, meaning we’d have to wait for the 50-kW or 150-kW stations that were in operation in Lost Hills, 45 miles up the road. The route planner only recalculates your journey if you lose range faster than expected or if you manually reset the navigation, so we used our best judgment to modify the plan. Pushing range anxiety to the back of our minds, we set our sights for Electrify America’s bank of 10 350-kW chargers in Kettleman City, another 75 miles up I-5.
As we watched the battery percentage fall to 10 percent, we got off the freeway. There were only a few cars ahead of us in line for the chargers, and only one stall was out of order, which meant we had to wait a relatively short 15 minutes to plug in. After swiping the satisfying slider within the Electrify America mobile app, we were charging. The Polestar 2 managed 248.2 miles from a full charge and still predicted we had 30 miles left. Normally, the drive to Kettleman City from our starting point would have only been about 180 miles, so we overextended significantly on this first attempt at an EV road trip.
When you plan your route, the Google Maps navigation recommends charging times for each stop but doesn’t display those suggestions upon arrival. Polestar recommends drivers cap charging at 90 percent on the infotainment display, and I tend to obey that guidance when I’m not in a hurry. Juicing up to 90 percent maximum took 53 minutes in this instance and pumped 70.83 kWh of electricity into the battery. We unplugged and finished out the remaining 173.3 miles of our journey without issue.
Finishing the Road Trip and Final Thoughts
Our travel day was about 10 hours from start to finish, which wasn’t too bad considering Southern California’s notorious holiday traffic and the various pivots we had to make. The Polestar 2’s seats are enormously comfortable and supportive, and we had little bodily fatigue once we made it to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. The Harman Kardon speakers, included with the Plus pack, provided excellent sound quality throughout the journey. It’s worth mentioning that we kept climate control enabled on automatic mode throughout the trip, which was an incredible luxury as most of the drive took place after dark and in the relative cold of a California November.
Upon arrival, I plugged the car into my parents’ Level 2 charger and topped up the battery from 19 to 90 percent overnight, allowing for an estimated 280 miles of driving. In just under 12 hours, we added 60.95 kWh back into the battery. The rest of the trip entailed some around-town errands and a quick top-off on a 50-kW charger before we headed back to L.A.
The drive south was a lot smoother; we learned our lesson and left earlier in the morning to have a better chance at an available charging stall when we arrived in Kettleman City, where we charged from 17 to 90 percent in 48 minutes. Emboldened by our initial stint over the Grapevine, we completed the second leg in one shot, arriving home with an incredible 30 percent charge left on the battery.
As it turns out, Polestar’s claim that the 2 is a long-range EV amounts to fact in the real world. My range anxiety in this car is now nonexistent. I feel confident I can trust its estimates so far, and it helps that the in-car navigation constantly updates the projected charge upon arrival throughout the journey. We’ll see if this great first impression stays with us through its next 10 months in our garage.
For More on Our Long-Term Polestar 2 Single Motor:
|MotorTrend’s 2024 Polestar 2 Single Motor
|2 mo/3,901 mi
|Base/as Tested Price
|Plus package ($2,200: heat pump, panoramic roof, premium audio, upgraded seats, Polestar Digital Key functionality, power front seats with lumbar, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, ambient lighting), Pilot package ($2,000: adaptive cruise control, Pilot Assist, LED front fog lights with cornering function); Midnight Blue metallic paint ($1,250)
|EPA CTY/HWY/CMB FUEL ECON; CMB RANGE
|124/106/115 mpg-e; 320 miles
|Energy Cost Per Mile
|Maintenance and Wear
|Days Out of Service/Without Loaner
|Gutsy acceleration, cool design accents, a helpful mobile app.
|Jittery ride over rough surfaces, base wheel design could be cooler, Tesla cars get better charging access.