2017 Chevrolet Bolt

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Review

The Chevrolet Bolt is the low-cost EV with more than 200 miles of range we've all been waiting for.
4.5 / 5
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Dan Edmunds
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is the low-cost electric vehicle we've all been waiting for. You can drive a Bolt more than 200 miles on a charge, which is double the range of most rivals. Plus, it's functional, more spacious inside than it looks, and fun to drive.

One thing we're not convinced of is that Volt and Bolt are the best names Chevrolet could have picked for its pair of plug-in vehicles. Their names sound virtually the same, but these are fundamentally different vehicles.

The Volt is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with 53 miles of electric range. That's more range than any other PHEV you can buy offers, but it's also less than any pure electric vehicle. It gets around its range limitation and erases the idea of "range anxiety" by having a 1.5-liter gasoline engine and a gas tank big enough to make it as useful as any normal car.

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV has no need for a gasoline engine because it gets around range anxiety another way: It has a humongous battery. In technical terms, its capacity is 60 kilowatt-hours (kWh), but all you really need to know is the Bolt EV will go more than 200 miles on a full charge. The EPA's official estimate is 238 miles. That's Tesla territory.

But the Bolt's price certainly isn't Tesla territory. Its as-new purchase price is less than $40,000 before you figure in the tax credits that are available. The best part is the Bolt EV is functional, fun to drive and remarkably spacious. And it promises to be more reliable than either of the two Teslas we've tested for a year. Who needs to wait around for the Tesla Model 3 when you can buy this right now?



What's new for 2017

Everything. The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is an all-new model.

We recommend

In terms of range and performance, the Bolt LT and Premier are identical. We suggest the Premier because it comes standard with roof rails, leather-trimmed seats and other desirable equipment. And it opens the door to options not offered on LT, such as premium audio and advanced driving aids.




Trim levels & features

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is an all-electric four-door hatchback that is offered in just two trim levels: LT and Premier. Both share the same mechanical running gear, including the 200-horsepower electric motor and the large 60-kWh underfloor battery that is good for about 238 miles on a full charge.

Standardized 240-volt charge equipment will fill that battery from empty in about 9.3 hours. But it's unlikely you'll ever run it down that low between charges, so it's better to think in terms of the Bolt's 240-volt Level 2 charging rate, which is a healthy 25 mph-c (miles added per hour charging). Don't plan on subsisting on the included 120-volt Level 1 power cord because it can only recharge at 3 or 4 mph-c.

With the LT, you'll get 17-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, a rearview camera, and keyless ignition and entry. Inside, you'll find height-adjustable cloth seats, 60/40-split folding rear seats, a configurable gauge cluster display, automatic climate control, a 10.2-inch touchscreen, OnStar, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and a six-speaker sound system with two USB ports.

Options for the LT include the Comfort and Convenience package, which consists of heated front seats, a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Driver Confidence I package brings in blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors. Another noteworthy LT option is a cargo area floor cover for extra storage capability.

Step up to the Premier and you'll get everything described above, including the LT options. You'll also get cargo roof rails, leather seats, ambient interior lighting, heated rear seats, a center rear armrest, a top-down parking camera system and an upgraded, camera-based rearview mirror.

Premier options include the Infotainment package, which has a seven-speaker Bose audio system, wireless smartphone charging and two charge-only USB ports for rear seat passengers. There's also the Driver Confidence II package, which consists of a forward collision warning system with pedestrian detection and low-speed automatic emergency braking, a lane departure warning and intervention system, and automatic high-beam headlamp dimming.

The only significant option that's common to both of them is DC fast charging capability, which allows the car to use SAE Combo 400-volt Level 3 charge stations that can fill the battery to 80 percent in little more than an hour. Think in terms of a charge rate upwards of 150 mph-c and you can see the benefit. We consider this option to be essential for a car with as much range as the Bolt because, as more of these stations get built, DC fast charging will open the door to interstate travel.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier Hatchback.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.5 / 5

Driving

4.5 / 5

Acceleration4.0 / 5
Braking5.0 / 5
Steering4.5 / 5
Handling5.0 / 5
Drivability5.0 / 5

Comfort

3.5 / 5

Seat comfort3.0 / 5
Ride comfort3.0 / 5
Noise & vibration5.0 / 5
Climate control4.0 / 5

Interior

4.5 / 5

Ease of use5.0 / 5
Getting in/getting out5.0 / 5
Driving position4.0 / 5
Roominess5.0 / 5
Visibility5.0 / 5
Quality2.5 / 5

Utility

4.5 / 5

Small-item storage4.5 / 5
Cargo space4.0 / 5

Technology

3.5 / 5

Audio & navigation2.5 / 5
Smartphone integration4.5 / 5
Driver aids4.0 / 5
Voice control4.0 / 5

Driving4.5

We were surprised by how much we enjoyed driving the Bolt. Its 200-horsepower electric motor delivers a healthy dose of thrust, its low-slung battery helps to make it feel sure-footed, and the steering and brakes are more than just predictable and smooth — they're engaging.

Acceleration4.0

You'll find plenty of oomph when you press the Bolt's accelerator. It merges onto freeways with ease, and there's a good deal of reserve power for passing on two-lane roads. Our test car accelerated to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds at the track, a fine showing for a family car, much less an electric one.

Braking5.0

The Bolt is unique among EVs because it relies on standard friction brakes in D mode, which is why they feel so consistent and easy to modulate. It stops from 60 mph in an impressive 116 feet, too. Put the lever in L mode for strong regenerative braking and improved range.

Steering4.5

Turn the wheel and the Bolt responds smoothly, with a just-right level of response that's neither too darty nor too dead. There's good feel and feedback as you dial in more steering, too. And on the freeway it has good straight-ahead stability that doesn't demand a lot of driver attention.

Handling5.0

The Bolt feels nimble, coordinated and sure-footed when the road gets curvy. And it doesn't roll much, either. Credit the large underfloor battery pack because it gives the Bolt a very low center of mass and makes it less nose-heavy than it would be if it had a traditional gas engine.

Drivability5.0

It is hard to imagine how it could drive better. The electric motor is utterly smooth, and the single-speed direct drive transmission never shifts. We especially like the one-pedal lift-throttle braking available in L mode, with extra slowing available by squeezing the left-hand steering paddle.

Comfort3.5

On balance, the Bolt comes across as comfortable. Like any EV, its cabin is exceedingly quiet. But two apparent cost- and weight-saving decisions hold it back. The simplistic rear suspension doesn't cope with rough roads as well as other types might, and the all-business seats feel a bit chairlike.

Seat comfort3.0

The Bolt's seats feel supportive and offer height adjustability, but they lack a feeling of plushness. And they feel small, as if you're sitting on them instead of in them. The latter may matter most to larger folks, but it's worth sitting in one and making sure before you sign any papers.

Ride comfort3.0

It doesn't float or wallow much at highway speeds, so in that sense the Bolt feels steady and smooth. It soaks up simple bumps readily, too. But things can get clunky when the surface is pocked with cracks, fractures and sharp edges, a likely result of its unsophisticated rear suspension design.

Noise & vibration5.0

The lack of engine noise, accessory drive belts and the absence of shifting give the Bolt a huge leg up compared to a regular car. We never were bothered by excessive wind noise, either. A bit of tire noise wafts up from the road, but it's nicely muted.

Climate control4.0

The Bolt's cabin warms up quickly because electric heat doesn't have to wait for an engine to warm up, and if the car is plugged in, it can be preheated with no range impact. When underway, maximize your range by dialing down the heat and relying on the Premier's standard heated seats instead.

Interior4.5

The Bolt's interior is functional, with simple-to-understand controls, plenty of room in the front and the back, and easy entry and exit. The main letdown is the apparent quality of the materials used, which is most obvious when it comes to the carpet and the interior panel plastics.

Ease of use5.0

The controls are thoughtfully arranged and separated by function, with a handy volume knob and tune buttons just below the touchscreen. Climate controls are also prominent and self-explanatory. The instrument panel can be configured three ways; we like the Enhanced setting's range-coaching features.

Getting in/getting out5.0

All four of the Bolt's doors open wide, and the roofline is tall all the way to the rear hatch. And the seats themselves are in the Goldilocks zone for height; they're neither too high nor too low.

Driving position4.0

A range of our drivers found it easy to settle in behind the wheel thanks to the Bolt's height-adjustable driver seat and the generous adjustment range of its telescopic steering wheel.

Roominess5.0

The Bolt feels much bigger inside than you'd suspect after looking at it from outside. There's plenty of head- and legroom, and that extends to the rear seats. Our 6-foot-2-inch tester was able to adjust the front seat to his liking and then move to the rear seat with no trouble.

Visibility5.0

You can easily see out of the Bolt. Peekaboo windows up front help you see past the front roof pillars, and the low window sill makes it easy to see out the sides. Mirror coverage is good, and the rear blind spot isn't large. We wish the standard rearview camera worked better in low light, though.

Quality2.5

Chevy's desire to save weight and cost with the interior is obvious. The carpet feels thin and the easily dirtied left footrest is unprotected. The interior panels don't even attempt to disguise the fact that they are made of hard plastic. For a car in the Bolt's price range, it's disappointing.

Utility4.5

As a ground-up design, the Bolt EV does well in this area because of its tall profile and the underfloor position of its big drive battery, a position that has no negative repercussions for either passenger or cargo space.

Small-item storage4.5

Considering its size, the Bolt doesn't disappoint in this area. The front door pockets are good-sized, the center console and glovebox are adequate, and the main cupholders are well-positioned. There's also an open bin for a purse and a couple of extra cubbies perfect for phone storage.

Cargo space4.0

At 16.9 cubic feet with all seats in use, the Bolt's cargo area is usefully sized. The available floor panel cover can either be left in place for hidden basement storage or removed to carry bulkier items. Fold one or both parts of the 60/40-split backseat to open up a bigger space.

Child safety seat accommodation5.0

LATCH anchor and top tethers cover all three rear seat positions, and you can choose to fit one car seat in the middle or a pair in the outer seats. The anchors are easy to reach, and the door opening is adequately large and doesn't slope down much at all. Enough space for bulky rear-facing seats.

Technology3.5

The Bolt handles smartphones well, with up to four USB ports. But built-in navigation is oddly unavailable. Apple CarPlay and Android will let you echo your phone's map on the main screen, but you have to own one of those phones, have a sufficient data plan and be in an area with data coverage.

Audio & navigation2.5

The Bolt's touchscreen is big, but menu response can be slow. We like the fixed volume knob and the volume paddle behind the right steering spoke. Oddly, navigation is absent unless you use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to display your phone's map on the big screen — provided you have a signal.

Smartphone integration4.5

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Bluetooth is available for those who can't or prefer not to use these interfaces. There are two front-seat USB ports in the LT, and if you get a Premier and opt for the Infotainment package you'll get two more charge-only ports for the backseat.

Driver aids4.0

Our Premier came standard with rear parking sonar and rear cross-traffic and blind-spot monitoring, all of which are optional on LT. Additional systems that are optional on Premier (and not available on LT) include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assistance.

Voice control4.0

The standard voice controls work well, and if you have CarPlay or Android Auto active, you can hold the button longer to access Siri and Google Voice, which opens the door to even more voice-activated data possibilities.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.