The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is a remarkably functional and engaging electric vehicle that offers an astounding 238 miles of electric range. This much roaming capability puts it in the same league as the Tesla, but it's nowhere near as expensive. In fact, a nicely equipped Bolt EV costs less than half of what most owners paid for their Model S.
There aren't many tough decisions to make when buying a Bolt EV. There are only two trim levels, and both of them share the 200-horsepower electric motor, large 60-kWh battery, 17-inch wheels and tires, and other mechanical bits that make it a pleasure to drive.
The LT comes with cloth seats yet is chock full of useful gear such as xenon headlights, LED daytime-running accent lights, keyless entry with pushbutton start, automatic climate control, and a large touchscreen audio system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The first of two option packages lets you add a heated leather steering wheel and heated seats, and a second one offers blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and parking sonar.
Move to the Premier and you'll get all of that — including the LT option packages — plus dressier wheels, roof rails and turn-signal mirrors. The seats are leather trimmed, and the rear ones get seat heaters. And the Premier is where you need to start if you want to add options such as a Bose premium audio system with a subwoofer and extra USB power jacks or a higher level of active safety gear such as forward collision alert, automated emergency braking or lane keeping assistance.
Neither version is terribly expensive when considering the size of the battery and the amount of available driving range. It's hard to overstate how far that 238-mile range vaults the 2017 Bolt EV ahead of the pack. Similarly priced and similarly sized electric vehicles offer only around 120 miles of range, give or take a few miles.
And don't forget that like all EVs, a new Bolt will wind up being more affordable than its sticker price suggests because it qualifies for a significant $7,500 federal credit, with the additional possibility of state credits or rebates. On the flip side, even though the Bolt comes with a 120-volt charge cord, an EV with this much battery makes it advisable for any potential owner to consider installing 240-volt charge equipment at home. Chevrolet dealers that sell the Bolt can almost certainly help arrange that (with the cost possibly built into the financing) or you can buy the charging equipment yourself from one of several online sources and work with an electrician to have it installed.
The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is a compelling electric vehicle that has enough range to make the fear of running out a relic of the past. Whether you intend to buy or lease — an option to consider because the technology is continually evolving — check out Edmunds' configuration and shopping tools to sort through the details and find one near you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.