NewCarTestDrive

Best Commuter Car 2017

 

New Car Test Drive named the Chevrolet Bolt EV as the Best Commuter Car for 2017, the first all-electric vehicle to receive the title.

Bolt costs about $30,000 after federal tax credits, according to Chevrolet. Yet it boasts an EPA range of 238 miles between charges, and we’ve seen drivers go 265 miles.

Bolt is a tall compact wagon, a five-door hatch. Though small from the outside, its passenger space is comparable to that of a midsize car. Bolt was engineered from the ground up as an electric car.

We found it delivers brisk performance and agile handling.

An electric motor drives the front wheels. Rated at 150 kilowatts, the motor generates 266 pound-feet of torque. The Bolt literally bolts from a standstill, and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than 7 seconds, according to Chevrolet and published reports. That’s reasonably quick, more than three seconds quicker than a Toyota Yaris.

There are two distinct drive modes. In the normal Drive mode, the car behaves like it has an automatic transmission. In the Low mode, regenerative braking is more aggressive, and will actually stop the car without the brakes being applied. It extends the range, but it’s very different from a traditional car and takes some getting used to.

Bolt’s fuel is a 60-kilowatt lithium-ion battery pack that rides under the car. A 120-volt charging cord is stored under the rear cargo area, but the hot setup is to install a 240-volt outlet in the garage that can supply 50 miles of range in less than two hours. Overnight delivers a full charge of 239 miles. A 50-watt DC fast-charging port will provide 90 miles of range in 30 minutes.

The Bolt is rated by the EPA at 119 MPGe. Miles Per Gallon Equivalent, or MPGe, which measures the distance a car can travel electrically on the amount of energy in a gallon of gasoline. That score is bested only by one model of the BMW i3.

The roomy cabin seats four comfortably, with plenty of legroom. The drivers is afforded excellent visibility and with its small exterior dimensions Bolt is easy to park.