As auto manufacturers wrestle with how much pure electric technology consumers want several cars have emerged beyond Tesla that will move you along several hundred miles before needing a charge.
Still others, like Toyota, have backed off the electric train in lieu of hybrid technology while citing “range anxiety” — worry that the battery will drain, leaving you stranded before a charging point is reached.
The new Chevrolet Bolt is near the top of a handful of small cars with a 259-mile range, an increase of 20 miles over last year’s model, without increasing battery size.
Pros: The ultimate green machine, quick off the line, quiet ride
Cons: Pricey, touchscreen glare, no available navigation
The Bolt debuted in 2017 and has seen minor modifications since then. Two trim levels are available — LT and Premier. Each have the same electric battery pack under the floor powering a 200-horsepower electric motor.
Base price for the LT in your driveway is $37,495 and the loaded Premier is $41,020, although we understand that Chevrolet is dealing on these cars.
Normally we would recommend the base model but the Premier’s safety gear, fast charging equipment, Bose sound and infotainment package for $2,235 is worth the extra coin.
Kia Niro and parent company Hyundai’s Kona and Ioniq have entered the EV sensation as has Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model 3 with more expected to debut this year.
Our four-door hatchback tester was fun to drive. As with all electric’s, its power is “all-on” instantly. Our independent testing of the Bolt from a dead stop to 60 miles per hour recorded a brisk 6.1 seconds, quicker than most gasoline powered sedans.
Driving the Bolt takes some getting used to since its transmission is one-speed and steering is a point and shoot affair. Braking is firm and its regenerative function is recharging the battery automatically and can bring the car to a complete stop without pedal pressure.
While the interior is on the sparse side, an eight-inch multi-color display provides driver information at steering wheel height. At center console is a 10.2-inch touchscreen that houses entertainment functions including audio streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, phone and climate controls.
Front seats are comfortable but a lack of cushioning, lumbar support and no power adjustments would be noticeable on longer trips. There is a surprising amount of cargo room in the hatchback with seating up to five. With second row seats folded, the Bolt leads most rivals with just under 57 cubic feet for luggage, golf clubs or big box shopping for two people.
Available safety gear includes adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitors, rear cross traffic alert, lane keeping, automatic emergency braking and front pedestrian braking.
Home charging on regular household current will take days to complete, necessitating the need for an installed 220 line that will still take nine hours. Fast-charging stations with a full charge in less than 90 minutes is the preferred method if one is near your daily route. Cost is $12-14 for a full charge.