The Chevrolet Bolt EV handily wins The Car Connection's Best Electric Car to Buy 2017. It rendered all other affordable electric vehicles outdated and nearly obsolete the minute it was unveiled.
That's what happens in the tech world, which is just what the auto industry is starting to feel like these days.
MORE: Read all about our Best Car To Buy 2017 awards
If any vehicle is set to become the first widely-adopted electric car, it's going to be the Chevy Bolt EV. Its 238-mile range and a roughly $30,000 base price (factoring in $7,500 in federal incentives) make it a viable only car for most people. Unlike the Nissan Leaf, which heretofore has been the default electric car, the Bolt's range is sufficient for most people to commute several days between charges. In fact, that 238-mile range is about what the average person drives in an entire week.
The Bolt EV becomes the first reasonably-priced electric car that won't have most owners constantly seeking out a charging station to top off their batteries, which essentially makes "range anxiety" a thing of the past.
But what may be most remarkable about the Bolt EV is that it's a normal car. That might not seem ground-breaking, but in the world of electric vehicles it moves the bar far higher than anyone else.
Sure, it's a little quirky-looking outside, but it has more in common with upmarket crossovers like the Lexus RX than with economy cars. Inside, there's good room for four adults and their luggage. Good space utilization makes the Bolt EV feel even roomier than it actually is, although its 94.4 cubic feet of interior volume is impressive on its own.
Tech abounds, and not just under the hood. The Bolt EV includes an 8.0-inch screen in the instrument cluster, a 10.2-inch touchscreen monitor that handles infotainment functions, and a rear-facing camera that displays a clear view of the road behind in the interior rearview mirror.
More than that, what's so impressive about the Bolt EV is the way it drives. Only a hint of electric whine penetrates the cabin. A drive mode selector offers a choice between normal and low; low increases regenerative braking enough to bring the vehicle to a halt without using the brakes at all.
A big, flat battery pack sits under the floorpan, maximizing interior room. It sends power to a 200 peak horsepower electric motor that drives the front wheels with authority, motivating it to 60 mph from a stop in around 7 seconds.
But the big number is range. GM quotes 238 miles, and in our testing we've found that to be easily achievable even without light-footing in an effort to conserve charge. As we said before, that's the kind of figure that makes charging an occasional thing, and not a constant worry, for most drivers.
One question we have repeatedly asked ourselves: Can the Bolt EV be truly "groundbreaking" if it acts like a regular car? In this case, absolutely—but it'll be up to the market to decide if this is the electric car that makes the breed mainstream.