by Gabe Beita Kiser
A marvelous little transporter that will leave you wondering why we haven’t we been driving EVs for decades.
As lovers of obnoxiously loud cold starts and the high-pitched hiss of a turbocharger layered over cries of screaming tires, every cell in our bodies wanted to turn around and walk away whilst approaching the bread loaf silhouette of the Chevrolet Bolt. Why, even after Tesla showed everyone it didn’t have to be this way, do automakers insist on removing sex appeal from EVs? Curiosity got the best of us, though, and with unjust remorse, we accepted the Chevy Bolt into our press fleet.
We haven’t looked back since because this whisper-quiet electric car will turn you into a believer and a mouthpiece for the EV, gearhead intuition be damned. Driving the Bolt is such a joy, it’s a small wonder it ended up on Car and Driver’s 10 Best list, but it sure as hell isn’t the aesthetics that do it for us. A single glance at its exterior immediately makes a few things apparent. First is that Chevrolet made this a jack-of-all-trades transportation device. It might be as unsexy as a calculator watch, but at least it’s as functional as one. Designed for urban areas, it’s sized perfectly to carry five passengers in a spacious and open cabin that can still fit into tight parking spaces.
A 17 cubic foot rear cargo hold won’t give you crossover storage space, but the Model 3 will only bring 14 cubic feet to the table whenever it decides to go into production. Those of us with experience getting windows smashed for any shiny object left inside the cabin will love the false bottom cargo compartment that swallows backpacks and valuables without leaving a trace. The designers really tried to solve the perils of city living here, but design aside, the Bolt’s selling point becomes apparent in the way it drives—for obvious reasons. We’ll be blunt and say it, electricity is the way of the future. Sure, the ICE will be around too, but one whisper quite cruise in an EV and you’ll start to wonder why Karl Benz even bothered with gasoline.
The sense of satisfaction and wellbeing that you get driving an electric car is hard to describe if you’ve never driven one, but it’s probably a similar to what a lifelong alcoholic feels when they sober up and replace their diet of fermented plant byproducts with kale smoothies. Fueling the healthy lifestyle is a 60 kWh battery pack sending its juice to the electric motor under the hood (no “frunk” here), which in turn sends ample twist to the low rolling resistance tires up front. This seemingly simple hardware, a battery and an electric motor, is the Bolt’s main selling point because of the miraculous range it has at its disposal. That’s 238 miles to be exact, far more than the 29.2 miles the average American drives per day.
It’s enough, actually, that the average American can get away with recharging the Bolt just once per week, which is just what we decided to do. A week’s worth of commuting, errands, and leisurely travel without once opening the charge port. Is it possible? Who knows, but we got the idea for this test during a chat with Henrik Fisker about the EMotion. He postulates that most EV buyers will live in dense cities like London, Paris, or San Francisco where street parking reigns king, making nightly charging a massive inconvenience. Once a week juice-ups on the fast charger would be more practical, and we decided to find out if that lifestyle was already possible on the current generation of electric vehicles.