Chevrolet Bolt EV vs. Tesla Model S

By

Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - July 18, 2017

The Tesla Model S has sat at the peak of the electric-vehicle mountain since its debut in 2012. And throughout the years, this electric sedan has gotten more and more awesome. But other automakers have been working in the shadows to undercut the pricey Model S, including Chevrolet.

Enter the new-for-2017 Bolt EV, and buyers now have a more wallet-friendly, 200-plus-mile electric car.

Is the Bolt EV’s far lower entry fee and array of standard features the magic pill needed to supplant the Model S from top-dog status? Continue reading to find out.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Model S & Bolt EV »

What the Bolt EV Gets Right

The Bolt EV gets a quick advantage over the Tesla Model S with its $37,495 ($875 destination fee included) base price. This makes it a whopping $31,705 cheaper than the Model S. That’s almost enough to buy a matching Bolt EV.

At this price point, the Bolt EV is very well equipped. It comes standard with premium features like HID headlights, LED daytime running lights, a rearview camera, regenerative power on demand, automatic climate control, an eight-inch driver information center, two USB ports, and a 10.2-inch color touchscreen. For added convenience, the Bolt EV also comes with Michelin self-sealing tires.

Surprisingly, the smaller Bolt EV has a touch more rear seat leg room than the Model S, checking in at 36.5 inches to the Model S’ 35.3 inches.

At an EPA-certified 238 miles of range, the Bolt EV comes close to the base 75-kilowatt-hour Model S’ 249-mile range. Despite its marginally shorter EV range, the Bolt EV’s lower overall power consumption (28 kWh per 100 miles versus 34 kWh per 100 miles) gives it a 119-mile-per-gallon-equivalent rating, a 21-mpge advantage over the Model S 75.

Finally, the Bolt EV is an IIHS Top Safety Pick, as it the institute gave it “good” ratings in all the crash tests and a “superior” rating in the front-crash prevention test. The only area it struggled was the new headlight test, where it received a “poor” rating. The Model S, on the other hand, received an “acceptable” rating in the small-overlap test and shared the Bolt’s “poor” headlight rating, eliminating it from Top Safety Pick consideration.

What the Model S Gets Right

Just look at the Model S… It’s stunning from all angles. Not that the Bolt EV is hideous, but it can't compete with the Tesla’s sleek design. The interior is not quite as sharp, but its comfort easily beats the Bolt’s, and its 17-inch, tablet-like center display is incredible.

As a pricier luxury model, the Model S’ standard features list is longer than the Bolt EV’s. It includes premium items like the aforementioned 17-inch touchscreen, power front seats, Wi-Fi connectivity, 19-inch wheels, parking sensors, power-folding heated mirrors, lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning, and a seven-speaker audio system.

The Model S’ range is superior to the Bolt across the board, ranging from 249 to 315 miles, depending on the battery. On top of this extra cruising range, the Model S possesses supercar-beating performance. Its base 75-kWh model zips to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds, while the range-topping P100D model sprints to 60 mph in a neck-snapping 2.5 seconds. What's more, it’s available all-wheel-drive makes it the better option in snowy conditions.

On top of being able to charge at home, the Model S can access Tesla’s Supercharger expansive network, which can give the sedan an 80 percent charge in just 20 to 30 minutes, making cross-country travel a navigable possibility.

Finally, the Model S’ cargo area can swallow up to 26.3 cubic feet with the seats up and 58.1 cubic feet of cargo with the seats folded. There is also another 5.3 cubic feet of room in the front trunk. The Bolt takes on just 16.9 cubes of cargo with its seats up (there is no rating with the seats folded).

The Bolt EV is a Great Consolation Prize

The Model S’ MSRP, which ranges from $69,200 to nearly $160,000 for a fully optioned model, puts it out of reach for too many buyers. While the Bolt cannot beat the Model S head-to-head, it does offer less-affluent buyers an electric vehicle with great range, a slew of upscale features, and respectable performance. It’s definitely a great consolation prize.

Verdict: Tesla Model S

No EVs can beat the Model S yet – not even the Bolt EV. The Model S perfectly mixes luxury, eco-friendliness, and performance into one sleek sedan.

Take a closer look at the Tesla Model S »

Take a closer look at the Chevrolet Bolt EV »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Google+ | Website