The Tesla Model 3 has drawn an abundance of attention and customer orders, but it remains a concept vehicle in development with a to-be-determined release date. The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt, on the other hand, is an electric vehicle (EV) capable of going more than 200 miles on a charge that costs around $33,000 after federal rebates and will be arriving in dealerships in a few months. You can look at its production styling, interior and features right now.
Let’s take a look at 10 things you should know about the 2017 Chevy Bolt.
1. It Can Go an Estimated 238 Miles on a Charge
The Bolt’s impressive electric range represents one giant leap, as the current crop of EVs like the BMW i3 and the Nissan Leaf only just manage to break the 100-mile threshold. And those are the best examples — most others are in the 80-mile range. "Ah! But there’s Tesla," you say. True, the Tesla Model S and Model X can match and surpass the Bolt’s estimate, depending on the trim level. But the Bolt doesn’t cost $70,000 to $120,000. Essentially, for roughly the same amount of money as an electric car that can get you 80-100 miles on a charge, the Bolt can go more than twice as far. A giant leap, indeed.
2. It Might Be Able to Go Farther Than 238 Miles
You see, the 238-mile range officially estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency measurement criteria is based on operating the Bolt in Drive. Should you put the transmission shifter into L, you’ll engage the same type of aggressive regenerative braking you experience in the BMW i3, the Tesla models and other EVs. This feature increases battery replenishment and thus extends electric range. Driving style and road conditions can also extend the range — but there are other reasons to keep the Bolt in range-friendly L mode.
3. It Can Brake for Itself
Because of the aggressive regenerative braking in L mode, the Chevy Bolt essentially brakes for itself. When you lift off the accelerator, the car automatically starts to slow — so whether you’re in a gridlock or cruising on the highway, you really only need to operate the throttle. This feature alleviates fatigue and may prevent some of the leg discomfort you get from constantly going back and forth between the brake and the accelerator in traffic. You’re still in charge when you need stronger or emergency braking, although low-speed emergency auto brake is available.
Like the Chevy Volt, the Bolt also includes a steering-wheel paddle that engages and intensifies the regenerative braking. In the Bolt, though, this paddle can bring the car to a complete stop, and when the car is placed in L, it will automatically hold itself in place when stopped. There’s no automatic creep, as in every car with an automatic transmission — for that, leave the Bolt in Drive.
4. It Can’t Be Recharged as Quickly as a Tesla
The Bolt can achieve Tesla-like electric range, but you’ll need more time to replenish its battery pack. The Chevy’s 7.2-kilowatt onboard charger can add 25 miles of range per hour of charging when connected to a 240-volt charger (a home-installed option) or replenish a depleted battery in 8.5 hours. At a DC fast-charging station, an increasing number of which are sprouting up on both coasts, you can add 90 miles of range in 30 minutes.
By contrast, a Tesla Model S and its optional 20-kilowatt onboard charger can replenish its battery pack about three times quicker. You can recharge the Tesla at home in 3.5 to 4.5 hours or add 170 miles in 30 minutes at one of the automaker’s fast-charging stations across the country.
As such, lengthy road trips in the Bolt aren’t that realistic.
5. It Has a Spacious Back Seat With Room for Two Adults
The Bolt is quite small on the outside, with dimensions that fall short of subcompact SUVs like the Honda HR-V. However, the EV’s tall profile allows for high-mounted seats that afford generous front and rear legroom. Four adults can fit quite comfortably.
6. Visibility Is Excellent
Because of its tall body and the passenger compartment mounted atop the battery pack, the Bolt affords drivers an elevated view of the road ahead. Coupled with a broad glass area and reasonably small pillars, visibility in general is excellent. A rearview camera is also standard, while a surround-view camera system and GM’s new rearview mirror camera is included on the Premier trim.
7. It Includes Some Excellent Features
The Chevrolet Bolt will be available in LT and Premier trim levels. The LT will come standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlamps, a rearview camera, keyless ignition and entry, single-zone automatic climate control, a manually height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding rear seats, a 10.2-in touchscreen interface and two USB ports. The Comfort and Convenience package adds an auto-dimming mirror, heated front seats and a heated leather steering wheel. The Driver Confidence I package adds a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors.
The Premier trim includes those items and adds roof rails, heated front and rear leather seating, a surround-view parking camera, a rearview mirror camera and ambient interior lighting. The Infotainment package adds wireless smartphone charging, an upgraded sound system and two rear USB ports. Meanwhile, the Driver Confidence II package adds forward-collision warning, low-speed automatic braking that detects cars and pedestrians, lane-keep assist and automatic highbeams.
8. It’s as Quick as a BMW
The BMW i3, that is — which is actually pretty darn quick. GM estimates that the Bolt will reach 60 miles per hour from a stop in 6.5 seconds. Among EVs, only Teslas are quicker. The Bolt is also much faster than the less-powerful Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. Of course, such a heavy right foot will reduce those range times.
9. It Drives Like a Modern Chevrolet, and That’s a Great Thing
Early reports indicate that the Bolt possesses the same impressive handling and overall driving feel of Chevrolet’s recently introduced cars: the Malibu, the Cruze and the Volt. After all, just because a car is powered by electrons doesn’t mean your driving experience should be dull.
10. It Will Be on Sale in a Few Months
Chevrolet originally said that the Bolt would be on sale by the end of 2016, but more realistically, look for it to arrive en masse at Chevrolet showrooms starting in the early months of 2017 as production ramps up at the Michigan assembly plant. The car’s battery pack and most electronic components are produced in South Korea by LG, who helped develop these components.