Chevrolet Bolt EV First Drive Review

Chevy Bolt EV review
A hands on with the Bolt EV all electric car.

What you’re looking at is the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV. No, that’s not a misspelling. It’s “b” as in “boy” and the emphasis is on the E and V, as in electric vehicle.

So what should you know? Range is an impressive 200 miles on a single charge, more than double that of the BMW i3. Maybe more. There isn’t a range extender option, which is to say this car will sip no fuel (unlike the BMW i8). Ever.

Price. While still TBD, the Chevy Bolt is expected to cost “about $30,000” (after gov’t incentives). 60 minutes at a fast charge station will net you an 80% charge, though if you want more you’ll have to wait.

Production of the Bolt EV starts this year, with sales expected to commence at the end of the year. I’m still a taken back by that last point; it just seems too good to be true.

Chevy Bolt EV First Drive
The lights and a few things will change on the Bolt EV, but this is close to production.

And while the story here is the Bolt’s 100% zero gas motor, Chevy is also very proud of its interior space, boasting 16.9 cubic feet of storage behind the front seats. Impressive beyond that is that my 6-foot 2-inch frame can sit entirely upright in the rear seat with head room to give. Shocking when you consider I can’t do that in cars much larger in size (e.g. Audi A7). To that end Chevy says the Bolt’s interior spaces is equivalent to that of a car twice its size.

I drove the Bolt extensively – said no one – at CES Tuesday morning. Climbing aboard the first thing you’ll note is the 10.2-inch infotainment screen. It’s bright, readable in direct sunlight, and is iPhone generation worthy in terms of look. Feel I can’t speak to because I just didn’t have enough time to poke and prod.

Also impressive is the rear view mirror which is in fact a screen that works in tandem with a rear camera to show a realtime unobstructed view behind the car, negating what is often a narrow passage way thanks to safety regulations and head rests.

Chevy Bolt EV First Drive
The Bolt’s 10.2-inch infotainment screen is bright and crisp.

My test unit is what the car world calls a “mule”. Which is to say it’s a test vehicle and not the final product, hence the ugly lights and the odd interior.

That said, what little I did drive the Bolt EV I did enjoy. It’s got some go, boasting a purported 0-60 in under 7 seconds (that probably means 6.9 seconds in true speak).

The Bolt’s batteries are underneath the floor negating space issues that are found in the Volt, which finds the batteries running through the center of the car. This results, in the Bolt’s case, is a fairly spacious feeling cabin. Moreover, this is Chevy’s shortest overhang car; the front hood is tiny.

Steering feel is as one would expect in a car of this type; it’s numb but easy on the arms. Brake pedal – it’s of the regenerative type – was tough to gauge, though this was a mule and any shortcomings will surely be polished up in the final production model.

Like the Volt and the ELR there are paddle shifters to slow the car. Those comfortable with one pedal driving will enjoy “L” or low mode, which engages the regenerative system as soon as the throttle is lifted. With practice and timing it can bring the car to a complete stop thus increasing efficiency, especially for city driving.

Chevy Bolt EV First Drive
This is what the Bolt EV will look like when it reaches production in mid to late 2016

With all of the above in mind, the Bolt EV is not a head turning car. But nor does it need to be. It fits in and looks like an affordable, practical city car.

Apple Car Play, Android Auto and My Link are present.  So, no matter what smart device fits your fancy, it’ll work. Chevy put emphasis on this along with the fact that the Bolt EV uses BLE (Bluetooth low energy) to connect with your phone and customize the car to your settings before you step in. You can also unlock the car using an app and track it down in a Walmart parking lot – it’s all OnStar derived tech.

The Chevrolet Bolt EV will go on sale presumably sometime this spring or early summer, with deliveries commencing by the end of the year.

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Christen Costa

Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."

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