Chevrolet Bolt EV: The Car Connection's Best Hatchback to Buy 2017

November 14, 2016

Chevrolet's ardent claims that its first mass-market electric car isn't a car at all—it's a small crossover, according to them—won't sway us. We know a hatchback when we see one, and the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is the best hatchback for this year.

Calling it The Car Connection's Best Hatchback to Buy 2017 isn't faint praise. It may be the biggest honor we could heap upon the new car. In our varied testing, the Bolt EV revealed itself to be a very competent hatchback first—before we even considered its powertrain.

The Bolt EV sports nearly 17 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row with the hatch open. It's usable and reachable space, thanks to a wide cargo opening. Chevy designers made it more functional by placing most of the taillight assembly on the hatch door rather than the rear fenders, where it'd cut into the cargo bay's opening. 

MORE: Read all about our Best Car To Buy 2017 awards

Fold down the rear seats and the usable space balloons to more than 56 cubic feet, which is more space than in the Cruze Hatch—Chevy's other new hatchback for 2017. Unlike the Cruze Hatch, the Bolt EV uses chrome trim and design to hide the electric car's boxy shape. Look through the black pieces on the rear pillar and the rising trim on the doors inside and you'll start to find the Bolt EV's right angles that help it be brutally efficient with its space.

A ratcheting rear cargo floor lifts up to join the lip created by the 60/40-split folding rear seats and makes loading bulky objects easier. The movable floor also reveals a clever trick from the Bolt EV—a hidden cargo bay perfect for a backpack or briefcase.

In all, the packaging for the Bolt EV couldn't be much better for a small hatch. Its footprint is among the smallest on the road, but its 111.3 cubic feet of total EPA interior volume is only a few cubes shy of last year's Subaru Impreza 5-door.

The battery arrangement along the floor and into the rear seat opens up plenty of interior room for cubbies and a deep and wide front-seat compartment that's now commonplace for cars unencumbered by a transmission tunnel.

MORE: Read Green Car Reports' first drive of the Chevy Bolt EV

Around town in our day-long jaunt through Detroit, the Bolt EV performed just like a hatchback should. In and out of parking spaces was a breeze, even though the short hood and somewhat low seating position didn't give us much indication on where the nose of the Bolt EV ended and concrete wall of the parking garage began.

You'll notice that we haven't yet marveled at the tech that delivers an EPA-rated range of 238 miles for less than $40,000. That should deliver many buyers well beyond typical range anxiety. Fingernails are safe again in the Bolt EV.

While we've had a chance to test out the full range of the Bolt EV in previous drives, it was our day-long trip in and around Detroit that convinced us of the hatchback's versatility and usability. At extra-legal highway speeds (the posted speed limit was 70 mph, the Bolt EV's top speed is limited to 92 mph) and back down to neighborhood jaunts, an 84.6-mile combined journey ticked off 25.7 kwh of juice—a little more than one-third of the battery's overall charge. 

That's mixed duty that most hatchback buyers will consider to be a weekend day's worth of shopping and errands, with enough energy to last for the rest of the night.

That's what we expect from hatchbacks nowadays and the Bolt EV delivers on that premise—and then some more.

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