The Car Connection Chevrolet Bolt EV Overview
The Chevrolet Bolt EV compact electric hatchback was the first affordable, high-range electric car in the U.S. when it was introduced in 2017. It received a new EUV model with a longer wheelbase and more interior room, but similar style for 2022. Chevy also cut the price in 2022 after the car lost its $7,500 federal tax credit and cut it again for 2023, making it a real value.
MORE: Read our 2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV review
With the Bolt EV and EUV, Chevy has a competitor for the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y, Hyundai Ioniq 5, and Nissan Leaf.
All Bolt EVs and EUVs are assembled in Michigan, although many of the cars' powertrain and display components come from GM's development partner LG Chem in South Korea.
Built in Orion Township, Michigan, the Bolt rides on its own dedicated platform, with a wide, flat lithium-ion battery pack under the cabin floor and an electric motor powering the front wheels.
In 2020, Chevy boosted its battery range from 238 to 259 miles through a larger 65-kwh battery, versus 60 kwh before. Because of their added weight, Bolt EUVs check in with 247 miles of EPA-rated range.
Prior to that upgrade, the Bolt EV's 238-mile EPA-rated range was a big selling point. At the time of introduction, it was a capability otherwise available solely in cars with a Tesla badge. The battery pack powers a 150-kw (200-hp) motor driving the front wheels. The Bolt's overall weight is about 3,580 pounds, somewhat higher in the EUV.
Walking up to the Bolt, it appears a bit smaller than the Leaf on the road—perhaps due to its short overhangs—but the car is wide for its length and actually larger in person than it appears from a distance. The nose has a Volt-like "grille" blanking panel, flanked by light units that wrap around and sweep most of the way back to the base of the windshield posts. A larger opening below provides an air intake.
A body-side crease sweeps up toward the rear, with the bottom of the window line climbing even higher at its back end. The rear has a relatively vertical hatch opening onto a spacious load bay with 16.9 cubic feet of cargo volume that extends to 57.0 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.
The Bolt's cabin is light and airy, and the remarkably thin front seats give an extra inch of rear leg room compared to regular seats. EUVs have much more space in back, at least for knees. Four adults can ride comfortably, though the "five-passenger" description is pushing it.
Passenger volume is 94.4 cubic feet, against 92.4 cubic feet for a Nissan Leaf—and only 94 cubic feet for the much larger Tesla Model S. The Bolt's interior is "two segments larger" than the car's exterior size would suggest, said development engineers.
The lack of an engine let Bolt EV designers move the windshield base down and forward, letting them rake the large glass at almost the same angle as its short hood. Frontal vision from the driver's seat is exceptional, which makes the Bolt easy to park.
Front seats are hard and not all that comfortable, and they lack bolstering to keep occupants planted. The slim dash and console and the car's flat floor make the front footwells especially wide.
The dashboard has both a central 10.2-inch touchscreen built into the top of the console and a fully digital 8.0-inch instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. The Bolt also offers General Motors' digital rearview mirror; its rear-facing camera gives a wide 80-degree image in the crisp digital display that replaces the mirror glass, against 22 degrees for a conventional mirror.
A portable 120-volt charging cord is housed under the load bay, Chevy expects most Bolt users to recharge its large battery pack at 240-volt Level 2 charging stations.
The Bolt accelerates confidently even with four adults in the car. GM quotes acceleration from 0 to 60 mph at less than seven seconds, and we found we could chirp the inside front tire under full power out of a turn. It corners relatively flat on its 17-inch alloy wheels, and the steering had a nice positive self-centering action, but the low rolling resistance tires have too little grip to make the car feel sporty. The brake feel is consistent enough that the transitions between regenerative and friction braking were imperceptible.
The standard Drive mode behaves just like a car with a conventional automatic transmission (minus the shifting), complete with idle creep. A paddle behind the left side of the steering wheel lets the driver increase the regenerative braking rate. Low mode, which many drivers will come to prefer, provides so-called "one-pedal driving," including the ability to slow right down to a full stop without touching the brake pedal. It's a smoother, calmer, more relaxing way to drive.
Changes for the 2018 model year were minimal: The heated steering wheel now switched on automatically when the car determines cabin temperature warrants it. Outside of the additional range, and some minor improvements to the seats, the Bolt EV's second and third model years were essentially identical to its first.
GM vehicles were no longer eligible for the federal EV tax credit as of April 2020. The base price of the Bolt EV started at about $37,500 before incentives, with higher trim levels and options pushing it above $40,000. It was chopped for the 2022 model year, to the low-$30,000s and again for 2023 to the mid-to-high $20,000s.
For the 2023 model year, Chevy also adds a Redline appearance package to the Bolt EUV. It has black leather upholstery with red accent stitching, red accent decals on the mirror caps, a black and red Bolt EUV exterior badge, and gloss-black wheels with red accents.