The Chevy Bolt Is The First Affordable Electric Car Worth Buying
Chevy has finally built an appealing electric car for the rest of us who can't afford a Tesla Model S or spend years on a waiting list for a Model 3. The Chevy Bolt starts at $36,620 before the $7,500 tax credit making it a fairly affordable family hatchback and after spending some time behind the wheel I'm pleased to report that is money well spent.
The silent whir of an electric car is a little unsettling especially when you consider I just stepped out of a V8 Jaguar F-Type and into this mute hatchback. This week I'm attending IMPA Test Days at Monticello Motor Club in upstate New York, an event where journalists spend time testing a paddock full of shiny press cars.
Out of the scores of cars at Monticello, the Bolt stood alone as the only electric car and rightfully so. It takes a special machine to handle hours of the abusive journalist driving we like to call "testing".
No car exists in a vacuum and after spending two 8 hour days driving the latest and greatest cars on the road here I am writing about the Chevy Bolt. Not because Chevy begged me to promote this product but because the Bolt is an astonishing machine that finally makes the affordable family EV a reality. This isn't a reality of slow silent boxes, but a time when a family car has enough torque to rocket out of corners and is mated to a chassis built for an autocross track.
When I stepped into the Bolt and turned the car on, the large digital displays immediately sprang to life without the delay associated with competitors. The all-digital gauge cluster displays your range in a clever best case scenario, worst case scenario, and average so you can plan your trip accordingly. It also shows you the amount of energy you're using during acceleration and the power you are harvesting back during regenerative braking.
The large center screen may not be the massive TV associated with a Tesla Model S however, the Bolts clear digital display is one of the best in the industry. Its intuitive menus make it easy for first-time users and the snappy responses give it true use during driving.
After turning on my heated seat and adjusting the leather-wrapped steering wheel to my liking I silently crept through the parking lot. In a sea of loud machinery full of other journalists attempting to shuffle out of the parking lot, the Bolt was invisible. The immense sound deadening used to insulate the Bolt's passengers from the outside world was immediately apparent. The Bolt was about as quiet as the last luxurious Volvo V90 XC I tested.
I as I approached the exit of Monticello's facilities and on to the scenic back roads used for testing I jokingly put the Bolt into Sports mode. I turned out to a straight away and called upon all the electrons in the 60 kWh 350 Volt lithium-ion battery that makes up the floor pan and rocketed off. This wasn't the golf kart acceleration of other affordable EVs, this was properly quick, in fact, it felt just as strong as the GTI I was driving an hour earlier.
The Chevy Bolt may boast an impressive 238-mile range of all electric power but it's not just another boring electric car. With 200 horsepower and 266 lb-ft or torque, this hatchback can sprint from 0-60 in only 6.5 seconds which is very similar to the last generation GTI which only got 31 mpg on the highway, that's called progress. That large battery pack erases much of the range anxiety associated with older electric cars that could barely survive a daily commute on one charge. The Bolt's range is so vast most customer could skip a night of charging and still have plenty of juice to make it to work.
Then there's the shocking handling, huck the Bolt into a corner and it sticks thanks to its low center of gravity. Those heavy battery packs are the closest things to the road giving this tall hatch the handling of a well setup sports car. The only limit to your enjoyment on twisty roads are the seats which lack the bolstering needed to hold you in place, I hope to see a Recaro racing bucket option in the future to fully exploit the Bolt's agility.
The Chevy Bolt is an impressive machine that is finally enhanced by its electric drivetrain and not impeded. Finally theres a family friendly car that can travel over 230 miles on one charge while still returning impressive on road performance. If the Chevy Bolt is the future of the family car, count me in.