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2017 EV Review: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV By Larry Nutson

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2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
In it for the long haul

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

It was about eight in the morning. My driving partner and I each settled into the two front seats. It had rained overnight and was a bit cool. We were anxious to get some heat going and switch on the heated seats.

We were heading out for about three hours of driving. We’d cover about 100 miles, alternately driving four legs of a pre-planned route that would take us west from Silicon Valley down to the shores of the Pacific and then north along California Route 1 into the heart of San Francisco.

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Our Chevrolet’s “fuel tank” was full. But, in this case the tank is the 60 kWh lithium-ion rechargeable battery storage system of the 2017 Bolt EV. The EPA-estimated range on a full single charge is 238 miles.

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Our test-drive Bolt EV’s instrument display showed an expected average driving range of 222 miles, with a max. of 272 miles and a min. of 182 miles. This was based on the previous days driving by some other car-testers. We’ll see! We weren’t planning on any hypermiling. We were going to drive normally, perhaps sometimes spiritedly to see what the Bolt EV would do for the normal, average American driver.


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To complete the picture here, the Bolt EV is all-new from Chevrolet. It’s a 4-door hatchback that seats five. The rear seat folds down to let the cargo area grow from 16.9 cu.ft. to 56.6 cu.ft. The cargo area has a cover to keep things hidden and also a false floor that hides more space.

Off we went on our drive. We cranked up some heat to take away the morning chill. We switched on the heated front seats, and by the way the two rear outboard seats are also available heated, and turned on the heated steering wheel. We were cozy and not concerned about using up battery energy.

A push of the start button and the Bolt EV lights up and turns on. Move the gear selector to “D” and go. This car is no slouch. Zero to 60 mph comes in 6.5 seconds.

Two unique feature of the Bolt EV are One Pedal Driving and Regen On Demand. With the gear selector in Low-mode “L”, simply lifting your foot off the accelerator will slow the car using the regenerative braking system and bring you to a stop while recharging the battery. With a little practice and familiarization we were coming to a complete stop without ever using the service brakes. The Regen On Demand is activated with a single paddle on the left side of the steering wheel that you simply pull and hold to decelerate the vehicle. My driving partner and I used both systems with great ease. There’s not a big learning curve.

In case you’re wondering, the rear brake lights come on too during regen braking.

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All-in-all we never had any fear or anxiety of running out of battery charge. We drove for three hours---down hills, up hills, on freeways, on twisty roads and had plenty of battery charge. At one point I checked and we had driven 76 miles and still had 125 miles of range—many miles to “E” or recharging.

As for charging, the way to go is a with a Level 2, 240-volt charger. Chevrolet offers one that you can bake in to the purchase or lease of the Bolt EV. An empty battery can be fully charged with this charger in nine hours…that’s just overnight.

From my view, the Chevrolet Bolt EV will serve an urban-dweller big city resident very well to meet all their local around town driving needs very conveniently. If you’re a suburb dweller, the Bolt EV should easily work for typical work-week daily commutes. The Bolt EV could be your second household car or it could be the only household car for some.

Personally speaking, I’m not ready to take the Bolt EV on a trip where I need to stop along the way and recharge. Road trips of 300, 400 or 500 miles might still need to be done in gasoline or hybrid vehicles until we get better infrastructure installed along our highways. But, it can be done.

Using a level 3, DC Fast charger 90 more miles of range can be added in 30 minutes. That’s a highway refreshment and relief break.

Another cool Bolt EV feature that up to now has only been offered by Cadillac is a rearview rear camera mirror. It comes on the Premium trim and operates as the normal inside rearview mirror. However, with the flip of the tab on the bottom it turns into a digital display showing what is behind the Bolt EV. And, there’s still a rear view camera too that is displayed in the dashboard center screen.

Speaking of cool, the Bolt EV does have air conditioning too. As a matter of fact, when connected to a charger you can program the Bolt EV to precondition—heat or cool—the interior before you drive.

By now you probably have heard that the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV has been named the North American Car of the Year and also Motor Trend’s Car of the Year. This game-changer of a car is the first ever all-electric car to win these awards.

More specs and information on the Bolt EV can be found at Chevy is rolling out the Bolt EV slowly across the U.S. It’s now on sale in California and Oregon and a number of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States including New York, Massachusetts and Virginia will see first deliveries this winter. By August of 2017 the Bolt EV will be available across the county from 1200 of the nearly 3100 Chevy dealers.

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Base price for the LT trim is $37,495 including destination charge. The Premier trim is $41,780. Depending on individual tax situations, customers may receive an available federal tax credit (it’s not a rebate) of up to $7,500. This could bring the price of the LT below $30,000. There are also some state incentives depending on where you live.

The bottom line is the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV behaves and drives just like most any small subcompact car. The difference is you never will go to a gasoline station to buy fuel. It’s quite roomy on the inside, more like a compact size.

I’ve driven a number of other make EVs around Chicagoland and, absent the need for a road-trip car, I know the Bolt EV would easily meet all my needs for daily business and household activities with battery charging perhaps only a couple times a week.

© 2017 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy