2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Expert Review

4.8 Overall Score
Performance 4.5 Comfort 4.5 Styling 4.6 Value 4.7

Editor's Overview

GM’s first mass-producible/mass-market electric car, the Chevrolet Bolt EV sets new standards for viability with potential real-world buyers thanks to its class-benchmark 238-mile-per-charge range. Natural rival to the Nissan Leaf and more affordable than a BMW i3, this cleanly styled, well-finished compact hatch boasts impressive room for five, a sporty demeanor and features that rival those of many pricier conventional vehicles.

You'll Like The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV If...

Simply put, the new Chevy Bolt EV is the most compelling pure electric vehicle produced to date. With its 238-mile EPA range, an impressive feature set, solid driving dynamics and an affordable price point, it really can take the place of a conventional alternative for many buyers.

You May Not Like The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV If...

While the Bolt EV does work wonders when it comes to eliminating classic range anxiety, there are gasoline-powered as well as hybrid-compact hatchbacks that can provide the same level of transport functionality for a lower price of entry.

What's New

Latest addition to the division’s lineup, the Chevrolet Bolt EV is a completely new offering built on a dedicated platform and fitted with an advanced electric powertrain that gives this compact 5-door hatch an outstanding 238-mile-per-charge range and excellent real-world drivability to match its solid functionality.

Interior Features

Quiet, comfortable and spacious, the Bolt EV’s cabin has a contemporary design flair that helps offset its abundance of hard plastic and dearth of soft-touch surfaces. The “floating” dash is dominated by a configurable Driver Information Center and a large, 10.2-inch color touch screen, each serving up EV-specific operational data on demand. While a bit light on lumbar support, the slim-line front buckets are comfortable and team with a 60/40-split rear bench seat that will accommodate full-size adults in its outboard spots and a kid in the middle. Folding the seatbacks increases cargo capacity from 16.9 to a huge 56.6 cubic feet.

Exterior Features

Cleanly styled, the Bolt EV reflects a blend of current Chevrolet design cues and more adventurous flourishes that impart greater visual distinction. A semi-wedge profile accented by both bright and black trim endows it with a quasi-crossover-SUV character. The Bolt EV’s sweeping, steeply raked windshield coupled with its large greenhouse helps give the car’s cabin a more open feel and improves sightlines, while its 102.4-inch wheelbase, relatively wide track and short overhangs add substance to its stance. Both LT and Premier variants boast full LED front/rear lighting, with the latter also adding integrated turn signals to its side-mirror caps.

Driving Impressions

Well-sorted, capable and energetic, the new Bolt EV has lots more to offer than its spectacular 238-mile-per-charge range. Surprisingly quick off the line, the Bolt EV’s robust core structure and sportily tuned suspension make it genuinely engaging on the road. Although the battery pack accounts for over a quarter of the car’s total weight, its low, central positioning helps improve balance and drops the center of gravity to ensure this super-clean Chevy also can make optimum use of its 215/50 self-sealing Michelin Energy Saver A/S tires wrapped around custom 17-inch alloy wheels. Toggling the Bolt EV’s Electronic Precision Shift lever from Drive to Low enables energy recovery via One Pedal Driving that helps extend the range using a regenerative braking system that feels notably less intrusive than several others we’ve tested. The Bolt EV’s steering wheel also features a supplemental Volt-style Regen-on-Demand paddle to further augment the energy-harvesting process.

Pricing Notes

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV LT has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $37,495 including destination, while the Premier opens at $41,780, both reflecting pricing before factoring in federal tax credits and state or local incentives. By comparison, the most affordable “S” version of the Nissan Leaf stickers at a considerably lower $31,945 but lacks the style and equipment level and has less than half of the Bolt’s per-charge range. The same holds true for the Leaf SV and top-line SL at $35,065 and $37,655, respectively, which have the same 107 MPGe mileage ratings. To find out what folks are paying for the new Bolt, check KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price. Kelley Blue Book has not yet established a residual value for the new Bolt EV, but its fundamental affordability and phenomenal range likely will endow this groundbreaking electric entry with a resale value percentage that goes beyond most other comparative EVs.

Notable Equipment

Both Bolt EV models boast numerous power assists, a tilt/telescoping multifunction steering wheel, Keyless Open and Start, a programmable Charge Control system, Chevy MyLink Radio with OnStar 4G LTE/Wi-Fi, SiriusXM satellite radio, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay support, dual USB ports, rear heater ducts, GM’s Teen Driver technology and 10 airbags. The Premier swaps premium cloth for leather and gains a heated steering wheel and front seats, auto-dimming Rear Camera Mirror, Side Blind Zone Alert/Lane Change Alert, Rear Park Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert systems -- all optional on the LT -- as well as Surround Vision, Rear Park Assist and heated folding mirrors.

Notable Options

The Bolt EV’s extras list is modest, with LT up-fits largely limited to the Premier-spec standards available in the Comfort and Convenience and Driver Confidence Packages. The Premier variant also offers a Driver Confidence II Package (Low-Speed Forward Automatic Braking, Forward Collision Alert and Lane-Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Low-Speed Forward Automatic Braking plus Front Pedestrian Braking, IntelliBeam auto high-beam assist) as well as an Infotainment Package (Bose premium audio, wireless charging, dual charging-only rear USB ports). While both Bolt EV models offer DC Fast Charging capability, built-in navigation is limited to the Turn-by-Turn variety included in the OnStar Guidance Plan.

Favorite Features

60-KWH BATTERY PACK
Co-developed with LG Chem, the Bolt EV’s high-efficiency battery pack has a massive 60-kWh capacity that endows it with a class-leading 238-mile EPA per-charge range rating -- sufficient driving distance to make this new Chevy a genuinely realistic alternative for current owners of similar-sized gasoline-fueled or hybrid vehicles.

ONE-PEDAL DRIVING
The Bolt EV features Drive and Low operating modes, with the latter boosting the regenerative braking level to a degree that the car can be stopped under certain conditions merely by lifting off the accelerator without ever having to touch the brake pedal.

Under the Hood

Motivation for the new Bolt EV comes from an advanced electric drivetrain that pairs a potent, extremely efficient 200-horsepower AC synchronous motor developing 266 lb-ft of instant torque with a huge 60-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that carries an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty. Power heads to the front wheels via a single-speed automatic transmission with sufficient intensity to send the Bolt EV sprinting from 0-60 mph in about 6.5 seconds and lets it reach an electronically limited top speed of 91 mph. In addition to its standard but time-consuming 110V charging system, Bolt EV owners can opt for a 240V home-charging setup that cuts battery replenishment time to roughly nine hours or available DC Fast Charging capability that can add 90 miles of range in 30 minutes.

AC synchronous electric motor
60-kWh lithium-ion battery pack
200 horsepower
266 lb-ft of torque
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 128/110 MPGe
EPA-estimated range per full charge: 238 miles

Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.

Editors' Notes

GM’s first mass-producible/mass-market electric car, the Chevrolet Bolt EV sets a new standard for acceptance by potential real-world buyers. Fitted with a huge 60-kWh battery pack -- the biggest to appear in any non-exotic electric car to date -- the Bolt EV in LT or up-line Premier form offers a benchmark 238-mile EPA per-charge range. That stat alone makes this ultra-green Chevy genuinely viable as a primary-use vehicle for a significant number of U.S. drivers. But the Bolt EV is a whole lot more. A natural rival to the Nissan Leaf and more affordable than a BMW i3, this cleanly styled, well-finished compact hatch boasts impressive room for five and their belongings, a sporty demeanor and offers features that rival those of many pricier conventional vehicles.

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