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?
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.
noise & vibration
ease of use
getting in/getting out
child safety seat accomodation
audio & navigation
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.