It is fair to conclude that the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt constitutes an electric automobile revolution.
There are many electric cars. But usually they have drawbacks of one kind or another: too expensive, don’t travel far enough, take too long to recharge or are cheaply built.
Chevrolet, however, has produced an honest, popularly priced, entertaining electric that looks and feels like a real automobile with few shortcomings.
The Bolt resembles a four-door hatchback, and at less than 14 feet long, still offers the interior space of a mid-size car. The government classifies it as a small wagon.
It carries five passengers with plenty of room for four big adults and a smaller fifth in the center rear, although that person suffers with a hard cushion and intrusion from the front console.
The Bolt’s strength lies in its powertrain: It uses an electric motor that delivers 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. It is fed by a 60-kilowatt-hour battery pack that nestles under the front and rear seats and is an integral part of the body structure.
The combination enables the 3,563-pound Bolt to travel an average of 238 miles when fully charged. For this review, a varied run of about 50 miles produced 3.9 miles per kilowatt-hour, which worked out to 234 miles of driving.
The EPA rates the Bolt at the city/highway/combined fuel consumption equivalent of 128/110/119 mpg-e.
Straight-line highway cruising is quiet and effortless, as the Bolt tracks true without many steering corrections. It handles smartly, with barely any body lean, on twisting mountain roads. Throttle response is instant.
The Bolt also is set up for single-pedal driving. If the driver chooses, the regenerative braking (which sends power to the battery pack) can be enhanced in two ways. Shift into Low, and the braking becomes stronger; depress a paddle on the left side of the steering wheel, and it makes the regenerative braking even stronger.
The system is designed to let the driver use the Low range or the paddle, or both together, to bring the Bolt to a stop without touching the brake pedal (which would switch regeneration off). It takes a bit of practice but maximizes the range.
Full recharging with an optional 240-volt charger takes about 9.5 hours. With a standard household 120-volt outlet, a full charge takes 59.5 hours, or four miles per hour. An overnight charge of 15 hours delivers 60 miles of range. The battery carries an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
There are two Bolt versions. The tested LT, with sturdy and comfortable cloth upholstery, has a base price of $37,495. Top of the line is the Premier, with a base price of $41,780, including the destination charge. The Bolt qualifies for a $7,500 U.S. tax credit, plus whatever incentives are available from state and local governments. Keep in mind that a tax credit is something that is part of an individual’s tax return and is not money refunded at the point of sale.