A more powerful and efficient alternative to the Nissan Leaf? You got it!

How do you build the car of the future? Just ask Chevrolet. According to the bowtie, the masses yearn for something that combines connectivity, electrification, and practicality. It has to be upgradeable. It has to be ahead of the status quo. Most importantly, though, it has to be affordable. Enter the 2017 Bolt EV. Offering a plethora of electronic features, 200 miles of range per charge, and a $30,000 price tag, the Bolt appears to tick all the right boxes.

Chevy went to extremes to tie the Bolt to the cutting edge of technology, streaming the debut at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show via Facebook Live and following it up with an interactive 3D tour of the interior. I wouldn’t have been surprised if there was a hologram of Steve Jobs in a Tron outfit at the end of it. Dead gadget tycoons aside, the 2017 Bolt looks to be a real watershed moment, not just for Chevy, but EVs as a whole. But is it?

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV.

Exterior

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV High Resolution Exterior
- image 661005
The biggest changes between the concept and production Bolt are seen in the front and rear fascia

We first saw the Bolt in concept form at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, and in the year that followed, the overall shape doesn’t appear to have changed all that much. The five-door compact crossover still bears the same rounded body, short overhangs, and broad character lines – Chevy no doubt prioritized wind tunnel data over aesthetics. Squint your eyes, and the Bolt is somewhat reminiscent of the BMW i3 or Honda Fit.

The biggest changes between the concept and production Bolt are seen in the front and rear fascia, where rounder shapes replace the slimmer, more angular lines of the vehicle that went on display in Detroit. This is most obvious in the headlights and taillights, both of which are outfitted with LEDs in the production model. The front grille is also significantly updated, gaining a more traditional, offset appearance in black, rather than the concept’s body-colored front end.

In back, the taillights are integrated with the hatch for easy loading and unloading, which is great for anyone who might actually need to use the rear cargo space. I also like the rear quarter, which offers a spikey, floating roof look that finishes the profile nicely.

Interior

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV High Resolution Interior
- image 660992
The production layout skews towards rental fleet and the surfaces are finished in safe (but boring) greys.

Inside, the Bolt once again appears a bit subdued next to its conceptual counterpart. Whereas the show-only Bolt was crisp and futuristic, with a wild-looking layout and contrasting white/black color scheme, the production layout skews towards rental fleet and the surfaces are finished in safe (but boring) greys.

That isn’t to say the Bolt is a total snooze-fest inside – you still get a cool floating dash, blue ambient lighting, and a few strips of metallic white trim. But I can’t help but yearn for the concept’s spaceship-style steering wheel and pedals, not to mention seats that connect with the central tunnel. It’s slightly disappointing, but certainly not unexpected.

That said, this is supposed to be an EV for the masses, which means practicality trumps aesthetics every time. Thanks to a battery pack that’s mounted flat underneath the cabin floor, Chevy’s engineers blessed the Bolt with loads of interior space, including 94.4 cubic feet of passenger volume, 56.6 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats down, and 16.9 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up. The bench also comes with a 60/40 split, and there’s a sliding armrest storage bin up front that’s big enough to house a tablet. Throw in five-door accessibility, and it looks like you could actually use this thing to haul around a good amount of stuff, if needed.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV High Resolution Interior
- image 660995
Chevy spent plenty of time highlighting the EV’s wide variety of infotainment features

Now for the techy bits. With CES hosting the Bolt’s debut, Chevy spent plenty of time highlighting the EV’s wide variety of infotainment features, making sure to mention extensive experience with OnStar to bolster credibility.

First up is Bluetooth smartphone connectivity. The Bolt can store personalized settings for up to 10 different devices, including cabin preconditioning and music presets. This specialized system was designed specifically for the Bolt, using minimal electricity draw to help maximize range. The system will also instantly recognize your device as you approach the vehicle, eliminating time spent syncing with the infotainment system. Finally, you can use the MyChevrolet App to check up on the Bolt’s charge status and estimated range, set the navigation system’s mapping, read the owner’s manual, and schedule service at your local dealership.

There’s a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot onboard, offering connectivity for up to seven devices. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. The navigation system was outfitted with EV-specific routing, taking into account things like topography, temperature, charge station accessibility, and even the owner’s driving habits when calculating how to get from A to B.

Another interesting infotainment feature is driving experience gamification. While details are sparse, expect something like online, max-mileage leaderboards for friendly eco-driver competition.

Behind the wheel, you’ll find an 8-inch screen for the instrument cluster, while a 10.2-inch screen with widget-based, flip-board style operation is mounted into the dash.

Finally, there’s an onboard wireless smartphone charger, plus several outboard cameras for a wide-angle view of the rear and a bird’s eye view of the car’s surroundings.

Drivetrain

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV High Resolution Exterior
- image 661002
The Bolt gets its juice from an electric motor that generates 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque

The Bolt gets its juice from an electric motor that generates 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. The instant torque pushes the small EV from 0 to 30 mph in 2.9 seconds and from 0 to 60 mph in less than seven seconds. Top speed is rated at 91 mph, which might not seem like a lot when compared to conventional cars, but isn’t bad for a fully electric car. The transmission is a single-speed unit with a final drive ratio of 7.05:1.

With the car having a sealed and flat underbody, it’s clear that the battery pack is located on the car’s belly with and elevated portion of it taking up space below the trunk – much like a fuel tank would. The Battery is rated at 60 kWh, which according to Chevy gives an EPA estimated 238 miles of range on a full charge. The biggest benefit here, outside of the decent EV range, is the fact that the battery’s overall design doesn’t have an impact on passenger space or cargo room.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV High Resolution Exterior
- image 660994
Using the optional 240-volt charger system, the battery can take a full charge from near empty in about 9.5 hours

Charging time depends on the method of charging. Using the optional 240-volt charger system, the battery can take a full charge from near empty in about 9.5 hours. One hour of charging on this system will net you about 25 miles of range. Then, there’s DC fast charging which is available for public use in various locations. Charging on a DC fast charger will get you 90 miles of range in about 30 minutes, which is pretty good if you’re out and about all day and are in the vicinity of a quick charger. The Bolt can also be charged using an 110-volt connection, however charging time is much longer compared to the 240-volt charging system.

There are also two features that help you generate and save energy on the go. The first is Regen on Demand which allows you to use a regenerative braking system of sorts. Instead of hitting the brake, however, you pull on the Regen paddle that is attached to the steering wheel. This helps to slow the car down a bit and throws that kinetic energy back to the battery system to help increase overall electric range. The second system is called One Pedal Driving which allows you to slow down without hitting the brakes and helps to recharge the system at all times.

By lifting your foot off of the accelerator, the electrical system essentially works backward. Instead of drawing energy from the battery to power the electric motor that ultimately turns the drive wheels, the kinetic energy from the rolling wheels begins to turn the electric motors that in turn generate electricity and send it back to the battery. For this system to work, your foot has to be completely off of the pedal, but it should help to optimize range quite effectively.

Safety

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV High Resolution Exterior
- image 661009

No forward-thinking EV would be complete without the latest assortment of active safety features, and the Bolt doesn’t disappoint. Expect tech like lane-departure warning, collision avoidance, blind-spot warning, parking assist, and even a teen driver mode. A standard system of airbags, including side airbags mounted in the seats, round it out.

Self-sealing Michelin tires sit in the corners, which means no spare donut in the rear.

Prices

For 2017, the Bolt EV starts out at $37,495. That gets you the LT trim that comes with aforementioned features like Regen on Demand, a rear vision camera, and even the Michelin self-sealing tires. There is a Premier trim available as well with extra standard equipment like leather upholstery, heated seats in the front and rear, a surround camera, and a rear camera mirror. Pricing for the Premier trim has yet to be unveiled, but expect it to pull at least $3,000 more than the LT trim, at roughly $40,495. The new Bolt will heat dealers in late 2016 and will be eligible for a tax credit of up to $7,500 which would bring the actual entry-level price down to $29,995. Of course, you don’t get that tax credit right away, so expect to pony up the full price up front and have Uncle Sam reimburse you later.

Chevy says production will begin later this year.

Competition

Nissan Leaf

2018 Nissan Leaf High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 729749

Introduced to the world in 2010, the Nissan Leaf is the reason why cars like the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3 exist today, with both companies aiming to have a piece of its popularity. The all-electric hatchback was redesigned for the 2018 model year, putting an end to the first-generation model after seven years on the market. The update is quite comprehensive and includes a sportier exterior design, a more upscale interior with state-of-the-art tech, and a brand-new electric drivetrain. The new motor cranks out 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. But while it represents a 40-horsepower and 49-pound-feet increase over the old model, it’s significantly less than what you get from the Chevy Bolt. The range is also better than the previous Leaf, but below the Bolt at up to 150 miles on a single charge. Charging takes 16 hours with a 3kW outlet and only eight hours with a 6kW outlet. Pricing starts from $29,990 before Government rebates.

Read our full story on the 2018 Nissan Leaf.

Tesla Model 3

2018 Tesla Model 3 Exterior High Resolution
- image 727971

Tesla’s smallest and most affordable offering yet, the Model 3 is actually a tad larger than the Bolt and the Leaf. It’s body layout is also different than the hatchback configurations of the two. This gives it a more dynamic stance, while the styling cues borrowed from the larger Model S give it a familiar look. Although drivetrain specs aren’t yet available, the Model 3 is expected to be the quickest and most powerful car in this market (though not as wild as the Model S. What we do know so far is that the range is estimated at 220 miles for the base model and up to 310 miles with the Long Range upgrade. That’s 50-percent more than what you get with the Bolt and double the range of the Nissan Leaf. Pricing will start from $35,000, but the Long Range upgrade will probably cost in excess of $45,000.

Read our full review of the 2018 Tesla Model 3.

Hyundai Ioniq Electric

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric Exterior
- image 738015

The Hyundai Ioniq arrived in 2016 as a competitor for the Toyota Prius, but alongside the hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, the Korean carmaker also developed an all-electric. This makes the Ioniq the first production car ever to be sold with these three drivetrains in the same body style. The EV is basically identical to the hybrid design-wise outside the panel-style grille up front. And this is a good thing, as the Ioniq boast a sporty, organic look. The interior is pretty classy for an affordable EV, especially one wearing a Hyundai badge, and there’s plenty of modern technology to enjoy. Output-wise, the Ioniq Electric is the only car in this comparison that’s actually less powerful than the Leaf, with its single motor rated at 118 horsepower and 217 pound-feet. However, the battery is good enough to deliver up to 155 miles on single change, which places it just above the Nissan. Needless to say, the Ioniq Electric is far from being as powerful and efficient as the Chevy Boult and Tesla Model 3, but it’s the most affordable of the bunch with a sticker set at $29,500 before incentives.

Read our full story on the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric.

Conclusion

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV High Resolution Exterior
- image 661012

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear – the Bolt EV looks poised to upend the EV market in a very big way. Never mind the way it looks, or the cool gadgets, or even the way it drives. The two most critical aspects of any electric vehicle these days are miles-per-charge and cost. Chevy is clearly cognizant of that, and unless Tesla drops the Model III in the next few years (don’t hold your breath), the Bolt will simply mop up.

Even more exciting is where the Bolt might head next. Chevy has designated this EV as a platform for the future, and promises to use it as a test bed for things like car sharing apps, new ownership models, and autonomous driving.

During the Bolt’s unveiling at CES, Mary Barra, CEO at GM, said, “I have no doubt that the auto industry will change more in the next five to 10 years than it has in the last 50.” And that makes a lot of sense, especially as the Bolt joins Chevy’s other green offerings, which now include the Volt, Spark, and Malibu Hybrid. It wasn’t that long ago that most observers would scoff at the notion of Chevrolet leading the industry with innovative, forward-thinking automobiles, but now, those same naysayers are in for a shock.

  • Leave it
    • Design lacking excitement
    • Still about a year away

Press Release

As Chevrolet’s first ground-up, long-range electric vehicle, the 2017 Bolt EV offered designers unprecedented freedom, resulting in a vehicle that crosses boundaries and challenges expectations in the electric vehicle (EV) segment.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV High Resolution Interior
- image 660990

“We were given a blank canvas – a rare opportunity with a unique platform to recast EV design for customers across the spectrum,” said Stuart Norris, managing director of Design. “The team answered the challenge with a progressive design distinguished by dramatic graphics and exceptional passenger space.”

The Bolt EV’s styling centers on its unique proportion, which is driven by a flat battery pack mounted beneath the interior floor. A 102.4-inch wheelbase and wide track give it a solid stance and the look of a small crossover. A short front overhang indicates that driving power comes from next-generation technology.

The large windows, plunging beltline and steeply raked windshield contribute to the progressive profile and emphasize the interior’s spaciousness and bright airy feel.

The large greenhouse offers a panoramic view from upright, SUV-like seating positions. The rear-window glass extends all the way to the license plate and integrates with LED taillamps on the liftgate. By integrating the taillamps into the full-width liftgate, the Bolt EV’s architecture enables a wide opening that makes it easier to slide boxes and other items in and out of the vehicle.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV High Resolution Interior
- image 660991

LED headlamps wrap around the forward edge of the front fascia, creating an aggressive character. The signature Chevrolet dual-element grille has been reimagined and features a smooth, clean and integrated design incorporating graphics with depth and a three-dimensional quality. It is offered with two signature colors, harmonized with the exterior color choices.

Functional, spacious interior
Due to the packaging of the battery pack, the Bolt EV interior offers seating for five passengers and 16.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat.

“The flat-pack orientation offered the flexibility to make the most of the proportions while creating a clean, sculpted design,” said Norris. “This really opened up the interior and created a fantastic view from every seating position. All of this additional space gave us a lot of opportunities to play with creative design and storage solutions.”

A “floating” instrument panel, for example, features a 10.2-inch-diagonal capacitive-touch control screen which creates a horizontal feel to the interior. Maximizing knee room and cross-vehicle spaciousness.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV High Resolution Interior
- image 660992

Additionally, a multipurpose, connected center console features side-by-side cupholders, a wireless charging location and a sliding armrest covering a storage compartment large enough to store a tablet device.

In the rear, the Bolt EV’s 16.9 cubic feet of cargo space is more than offered in the Honda Fit (16.6 cubic feet) and the BMW i3 (15.1 cubic feet).

Artful engineering solutions complement the practical use of space, with features such as thin-frame seats that enhance rear-seat roominess. The seats also incorporate the side air bag modules as design elements.

The interior is offered in a fresh, bright color palette that emphasizes the open passenger environment – with signature-color Electrification blue ambient lighting emanating from beneath metallic white decorative trim.

“The Bolt EV’s design elements are designed for everyday life and the space inside accommodates it all, whether you and your friends go shopping for the day or take off for the weekend,” said Norris. “Inside and out, this game-changing vehicle makes a dramatic statement with a distinctive identity that can only be a Chevy and challenges expectations for what an affordable EV can offer.”

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV goes into production in late 2016.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: