2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV Review

An impressive combination of practicality, fun and affordability make this 238-mile EV worth a look.
8.3 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Will Kaufman
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Just last year, the Chevrolet Bolt hit the scene and crushed the electric vehicle competition with its huge range, spacious interior and enjoyable driving characteristics. But this year the competition is fighting back. The Tesla Model 3 is finally trickling into customers' driveways, the Nissan Leaf is new with 151 miles of range, and the BMW i3 is sportier. Plus, Kia's promising us a long-range Niro EV. So now the question is: Is the 2018 Chevrolet Bolt still worth checking out? Short answer: Yep.

With more than 200 miles of range, plenty of space for people and cargo, a surprisingly fun driving experience, and a friendly price tag, the Bolt is a mainstream electric car that makes ditching gasoline seem possible. It can certainly fill the needs of most commuters, though its bargain-bin interior quality still disappoints.

The primary alternative you'll want to consider is the new Model 3. It boasts all the Tesla mystique and drivability, along with a futuristic, minimalist interior and access to Tesla's Supercharger network. However, supply is still short as of our review's publication time, and it's worth keeping in mind that Chevrolet has a nationwide dealer network that can quickly and easily provide service should anything go wrong.

The electric car segment is only going to get more competitive, especially with the promise of new battery technologies just around the corner. Chevy got a good head start, and the 2018 Bolt remains a compelling example of what the electric car can be.

Notably, we picked the 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV as one of Edmunds' Best Electric Cars for this year.



What's new for 2018

Very little changes for 2018. The extendable sun visors are the highlight, and the heated steering wheel can now be set to turn on automatically.

We recommend

There's no difference in range or drivability between the two trim levels, but we think the Premier is worth the moderate price bump. It comes with interior upgrades such as a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a trunk storage compartment, and more active driver safety features that you'll appreciate as an owner. It also has access to more optional upgrades should you want them. For either Bolt trim level, make sure to get the DC fast-charging option since it makes long-distance driving more of a reality.




Trim levels & features

The 2018 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.

With the LT, you'll get a 7.2-kWh onboard charger, 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 communications (with a 4G LTE connection and a Wi-Fi hotspot), 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, an automatic 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 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 trim levels 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. 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.

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Bolt has received some revisions, including only very minor equipment changes. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Bolt.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall8.3 / 10

Driving

8.5 / 10

Acceleration8.0 / 10
Braking9.0 / 10
Steering8.5 / 10
Handling9.0 / 10
Drivability10.0 / 10

Comfort

7.5 / 10

Seat comfort7.0 / 10
Ride comfort7.0 / 10
Noise & vibration9.0 / 10
Climate control8.0 / 10

Interior

8.5 / 10

Ease of use9.0 / 10
Getting in/getting out9.0 / 10
Driving position8.0 / 10
Roominess9.0 / 10
Visibility9.0 / 10
Quality6.0 / 10

Utility

8.5 / 10

Small-item storage8.0 / 10
Cargo space8.0 / 10

Technology

7.5 / 10

Audio & navigation6.0 / 10
Smartphone integration8.5 / 10
Driver aids7.5 / 10
Voice control8.0 / 10

Driving8.5

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.

Acceleration8.0

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.

Braking9.0

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.

Steering8.5

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 also good feel and feedback as you dial in more steering. And on the freeway it has good straight-ahead stability that doesn't demand a lot of driver attention.

Handling9.0

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.

Drivability10.0

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.

Comfort7.5

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 comfort7.0

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 comfort7.0

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 the ride can get clunky, a likely result of its unsophisticated rear suspension design, when the surface is pocked with cracks, fractures and sharp edges.

Noise & vibration9.0

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 makes its way up from the road, but it's nicely muted.

Climate control8.0

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 you're underway, maximize range by dialing down the heat and relying on the Premier's standard heated seats instead.

Interior8.5

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 use9.0

The controls are thoughtfully arranged and separated by function, with a handy volume knob and tune buttons 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 out9.0

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 position8.0

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

Roominess9.0

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.

Visibility9.0

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 do wish the standard rearview camera worked better in low light.

Quality6.0

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 that they're made of hard plastic. For a car in the Bolt's price range, it's disappointing.

Utility8.5

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 storage8.0

Considering its size, the Bolt doesn't disappoint in this area. The front door pockets are good-size, 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 space8.0

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 back seat to open up a bigger space.

Child safety seat accommodation9.0

LATCH anchors 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. There's enough space for bulky rear-facing seats.

Technology7.5

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 & navigation6.0

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 integration8.5

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. If you get a Premier and opt for the Infotainment package, you'll get two more charge-only ports for the back seat.

Driver aids7.5

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 the Premier (not available on LT) include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assistance.

Voice control8.0

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.