WASHINGTON — I’ve driven many electric cars over the years. The instant power from the electric motor is nice but the driving range is always first on my mind.
Most of the models I’ve driven have had ranges of 60-100 miles. While good for short commutes, it doesn’t make much of a highway cruiser.
Chevrolet changes that with the Chevrolet Bolt EV.
This Bolt helps make the electric car a more mass-appeal vehicle, with a range of 230-plus miles on a single charge with correct conditions (lower temps and driving style affect range). During the summer, my Bolt had a range of over 240 miles, and I didn’t even bother charging until the final day of the week, knowing the car had to drive to New York. I drove 178 miles and I still had 75 miles of range thanks to some heavy stop-and-go traffic most of the week, which helps regenerate when you hit the brakes.
The Bolt is no slow ride either; that instant power and torque move this small crossover with authority. Handling is more along the lines of a tall hatch.
The batteries are mounted low so the Bolt can take a turn or two. Only the tires, made for efficiency, stop the fun.
The ride is quiet because there’s no engine. You do notice some wind noise as the speed builds.
Brakes feel a bit different from a gas car but not as strange as some other electric cars out there.
Charging times with normal household power could take up to 20 hours, so choosing the $750 DC fast-charging port allows you to use a fast-charging station giving you 90 miles range in just 30 minutes.
Usually electric and hybrid vehicles have a compromised interior with battery packs taking up cargo space or other parts of the interior. The Bolt doesn’t have such sacrifices and is really a useful small crossover.
You sit up high and there is plenty of head room for both front and back seat riders. I drove the Premier trim level of the Bolt that comes with two-toned, heated leather seats. The seats are a bit strange looking, as the left side of the seat bolster is a different color than the right side. Materials used in the cabin are a mix of dark and lighter colors with a unique, light-colored plastic on the dash that brightens the interior with its sheen.
This is more of a compact economy car interior and not a luxury-car interior. Drivers experience a digital dash. It reads out the speed, has a range gauge which looks like the normal gas gauge and a drive monitor.
The drive monitor helps keep you in the green for optimal range. It’s helpful and easy to follow even for people like me who aren’t the best at efficient driving. The radio and NAV system work well and are easy to use.
The Bolt is bigger than it looks. Once you get close, it’s taller too. In pictures it seems like a small wagon but in person it’s a short crossover. You’ll quickly notice there is a lot of glass on the Bolt — so no squished roof look here.
It has that now-familiar Chevrolet upper and lower grill with a bumper in the middle. But since there isn’t a gas engine, most of the grill is a blacked-out trim piece that works well with the optional $395 Kinetic Blue paint.
It’s very easy to get in and out of, and loading cargo through the heavy rear hatch is easy. But, closing it may not be. My car came with the optional $549 Thule roof rail system that helps add hauling capability and makes the Bolt even more like a crossover.
The Chevrolet Bolt EV brings electric cars to the masses with fewer range issues and a price starting around $30,000 after all rebates and tax deductions. The Bolt impresses with the ability to be a normal crossover that just happens to plug-in instead of use gas.
Editor’s Note: Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI, FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.