Available for less than $30,000 with federal tax credits, the 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV is a breakthrough model for green-conscious motorists with a limited budget. The 2018 model adds extra creature comforts to the Bolt EV’s impressive 238-mile range.
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2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV Overview
What's New for 2018
Following last year's launch, the Bolt EV is unchanged for 2018 externally. Interior tweaks include a heated steering wheel as standard on Premier models. This is part of an optional pack on LT trim. Sliding sun visors are also new across the range.
Choosing Your Chevrolet Bolt EV
To encourage uptake of its all-electric subcompact, GM has made choosing a Bolt as easy as driving it. There’s only one engine and one body style – a five-door wagon powered by a 200-horsepower electric motor. This feeds power to the front wheels, propelling the diminutive Bolt to 60 in 6.5 seconds.
Its range is an impressive 238 miles, thanks to classic EV tricks like energy saving tires and regenerative braking. The latter means the Bolt will deliver one-pedal driving in certain conditions, with a regenerative mode on the gear selector.
Supplied with an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty, the Bolt’s 60-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack extends across the floor to free up more cabin space. Its 238-mile range is achievable in the real world – some owners report even exceeding that figure on a regular basis. That makes this one of the first EVs that owners can drive for multiple days without recharging. And when it comes time to plug it in, the Bolt EV takes 9.3 hours to recharge from a standard 240-volt wall socket, while a DC fast charger will provide an extra 90 miles of range in half an hour. That kind of capability is a $750 upgrade, and worth every penny.
Although it costs $4,285 more than the LT, the Premier model justifies its premium with far more standard equipment and safety aids. For less than $1,000 more, the optional Driver Confidence II and Infotainment Packages turn the Bolt EV Premier into a more advanced vehicle than its dimensions and price point might suggest.
2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV Review
All-new last year, the all-electric 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV gets nicked for its lack of advanced safety features, thin seats, and pricey quick charger option. Offsetting those items is a spacious interior that belies the Bolt EV's small footprint, excellent display graphics, and an anxiety-assuaging 238-mile EPA-estimated electric range.
Pricing for the Chevrolet Bolt, before incentives, starts at $37,495 for an option-free LT, and can top $44,000 for a well-appointed Premier model finished in one of the optional paint shades. Not your typical compact, neither is the Bolt's standard feature set that includes the usual power features plus seventeen-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, automatic climate control, keyless push-button start, 10.2-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a 4G LTE wifi hotspot, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and a rearview camera.
Other than range, the Bolt EV's hook is affordability, so we'd opt for the LT over the Premier – although the downside is getting locked out of optional advanced safety features that include lane keep assist with lane departure warning, low speed automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward collision alert, and automatic headlights with high-beam assist.
But a bare-bones LT is no fun – grab the two main option packages for goodies like blind-spot monitoring, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel, among other stuff. We'd also recommend ponying up for DC fast charging capability, which allows owners to recharge their battery at a rate of around 30 miles for 90 minutes of charging.
As it's an electric vehicle, the Bolt EV is eligible for a $7,500 federal income-tax credit.
Here's how we'd build it:
- Model: 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV LT
- Powertrain: Electric motor, 60-kWh lithium-ion battery pack
- Output: 200 hp / 266 lb-ft
- Drivetrain: Front-wheel-drive
- Range: 238 miles
- MPG: 128 City / 110 Hwy MPGe
- Recharge Time: 9.3 hours at 240 volts
- Options: Driver Confidence Package ($495, rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot detection with lane change alert), Comfort and Convenience Package ($555, auto-dimming inside rearview mirror, heated driver and front passenger seats, heated steering wheel, leather-wrapped steering wheel – required with Driver Confidence Package), DC Fast Charging Capability ($750)
- Base Price:$37,495 (including an $875 destination fee)
- Best Value Price:$39,295
Even with four adults on board, the Bolt accelerates with confidence, hitting 60 mph in under seven seconds and delivering enough torque to set passengers back in their seats. It also exhibits a smooth ride, and – courtesy of its low-mounted batteries – flat cornering. That's despite its tallish shape.
The steering has a nice self-centering feel, the transition from friction to regenerative braking – a sore spot with many EVs and hybrids – is transparent, and while Normal driving mode even includes transmission creep when stopped, the smoother-operating Low position substantially increases regenerative braking and can slow the Bolt to a stop without touching the brakes.
Not surprisingly, the Bolt's Achilles heel is charging times. Fully depleted, a normal 120-volt outlet takes 24 hours. Installing a Level 2 charging station at home – the type you'll typically find in the wild - cuts the time to 9 hours (GM notes "50 miles in less than 2 hours"). Finally, opting for the optional SAE Combo Level 3 DC fast charging capability, according to GM cuts that time – provided you have access to one – to "up to 90 miles of range in about 30 minutes…and up to 160 miles in about an hour."
Chevy's stylists did a decent job of disguising what is essentially a tall hatchback with creases, accents, and a rising beltline that give the Bolt a crisper and more entertaining character - while incorporating a larger interior – than its shape might suggest.
The seats are comfortable and with a high hip point and low beltline offer very good outward visibility. The flat floor and slim console contribute to plenty of front seat legroom. Special attention has also been paid to instrumentation that encompasses an eight-inch digital display in front of the driver and a 10.2-inch, in-dash, touchscreen above the center console.
At the same time, not everyone will find the thin, high-tech seating comfortable – in fact, we suggest you drive the Bolt for at least 30 minutes to see how the seats fit and feel. While we're on the subject, three adults in back will find accommodations tight, especially when traveling. And finally, adaptive cruise control and high-speed automatic emergency braking aren't offered at all (low-speed auto braking is an optional extra on the range-topping Bolt EV Premier).
The Best and Worst Things
The Bolt's slick design, stylish interior, and 238-mile range make it a compelling choice for many. We just wish it offered more advanced safety features to match its high-tech image.
Right For? Wrong For?
A crisp design, high-tech interior, and 238-mile range make the Bolt a compelling choice for eco conscious buyers.
At the same time, its competitive set lacks a number of advanced safety features, which could prove to be a turn off for safety conscious buyers.
The Bottom Line
Despite seats that aren't universally comfortable, a pricey charging option, and lack of advanced safety features, the Bolt's crisp design, slick instrumentation, and 238-mile range make it a solid choice in its class.
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