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All-Electric Chevy Bolt Charges Forward

By Sue Mead, September 9th, 2017

It's an electrifying surge in growth. Just five years ago, automakers only offered a handful of electric vehicles. Since those first EVs debuted -- Nissan's Leaf, Mitsubishi iMiev, Tesla Roadster, -- dozens of other electric vehicles have entered the marketplace, presenting new-car shoppers with an ever-growing collection of Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) options.

While range, charging time, and price continue to bring questions for some buyers, manufacturers are striving to offer more long-range, affordable models. The Chevrolet Bolt EV is a great answer to some of the questions. The all-electric subcompact hatchback delivers more than 200 miles of range on a full charge, with a starting price of $37,495 (before delivery charges, and not including any possible regional or Federal tax rebates).

Statistics show that the average commuter drives about 40 miles a day, which means owners could potentially go a couple of days or more without having to charge the battery. There are a number of options for topping-off the 60kWh lithium-ion battery pack: the Bolt recharges at a rate of about 4 mph with the standard household 120-volt cord; 50 miles of range in about two hours (or completely full in nine hours) when plugged in to 240-volt wall box; or up to 90 miles of range in 30 minutes using DC Fast Charging. Plus, regenerative braking during driving can also boost range.

The battery uses active thermal conditioning and liquid cooling, which is similar to the system found in the Chevrolet's hybrid Volt, to keep the battery operating at its optimum temperature, which ensures laudable battery life and performance. Chevy's confidence in the Bolt EV's battery shows, as it is covered by an 8-year/100,000-mile limited warranty.

Forget any notions you might have about slow-speed motoring only: the automaker promises the somewhat-spritely EV will achieve a top speed of 91 mph, and will accelerate from 0-to-60 mph in less than 7 seconds, thanks to its efficient electric motor that produces 266 lb.-ft. of torque on demand and 200 horses of motoring power.

The front-driver sends power through a "park-by-wire" Electronic Precision Shift system that sends electric signals to the motor for the delivery of power and torque based on drive modes.

The small utilitarian wagon/hatchback is styled with a progressive profile highlighted by large windows, a plunging beltline, and a steeply raked windshield. It might look diminutive outside, but the bright and airy-looking interior boasts 94 cubic-feet of passenger space and 16.9 cu.-ft. of cargo space behind the split-folding back seat.

We drove the tall and upright new Bolt EV with three adults onboard and found adequate room in all dimensions -- its small footprint belies a bigger interior than its presentation. Though technically capable of carrying five passengers, the back seat would be most comfortable for three young children (or two in car seats) or two full-size adults with the center armrest deployed. Of note, it folds flat for practical stowage, when needed.

There is good visibility forward and to the sides and the inside mirror can display a wide-angle camera view to improve rearward visibility. An 8-inch electronic cluster of gauges is behind the wheel and a 10.2-inch reconfigurable tablet-like touchscreen in the center offers multi-functional screens controlled by simple, intuitive gestures to access contacts and music, get directions and navigate, or manage Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity.

Available 4G LTE WiFi turns the Bolt EV into a WiFi hotspot, giving passengers easy access to apps and services via a high-speed wireless connection. Our short ride and drive was in Detroit, with the opportunity to motor through city traffic to Belle Isle, where we were to test the acceleration and braking. It handled competently throughout; it drives and feels like many other electric models with an occasional sound of electric whine and whir. It possesses a feeling of everyday motoring competence, very much the same as its sibling, the Volt.

Specifications

Base price $36,620 (As-tested: $37,495)
Curb weight 3,580 lbs.
Engine type Permanent magnetic drive motor
Epa mileage rating 128 mpgE city, 110 mpgE highway
Horsepower (net) 200 on demand
Overall length 164 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 366 on demand
Transmission electric precision shift
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD subcompact hatchback
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