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'The Bolt can be used like a normal gasoline-powered vehicle'
2017 AUTOMOBILE All-Stars: The Winners
March 11, 2017
[images / Andrew Trahan
Chevrolet Bolt EV 2017 All Star Winner front three quarter in motion
From a top-flight crop of candidates, six emerge as 2017’s elite
The danger with an exercise such as this annual shakedown — aside from driving off a mountain face, careening into a 12-point buck as it sprints from the underbrush (almost happened), or spinning off the track into an unprotected wall — is that it’s all too easy to become infatuated with big money, big horsepower, almost impossibly aspirational items. So it speaks well of this year’s winning class that it spans an impressively diverse range, from a Japanese technological tour de force (admittedly a pricey proposition out of our personal reach) to a practical, all-electric American offering to a sub-$25,000 compact mainstay, not to mention two decidedly different apex stalkers from Germany and a refreshingly original and elegant Scandinavian.
The voting was closer than in many years past, but in the end none of our crew disputed the results with much vigor. The six winners proved over the course of a week that they are undoubtedly special. These, then, are the 2017 Automobile All-Stars ...
Chevrolet Bolt EV
EV for All: Chevy’s Bolt is a real car for real people
A long-time proponent of electric drive, I’ve enjoyed every electric car I’ve ever driven, but the only one I ever have been willing to use on a daily basis, Tesla’s groundbreaking Model S, is absurdly overpriced for me. All the others, however pleasant in use, were impractical for my personal needs. Until now.
Chevrolet’s Bolt, specifically designed and engineered as a battery-electric, all-purpose, all-weather vehicle with enough range to make running-out-of-juice anxiety a thing of the past, is not only a perfectly adequate small commuting and grocery-getting family car, it’s actually very agreeable to drive. Our consensus was represented in phrases such as, “drives like a real car,” or, “I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a Bolt as a daily driver to many people I know.” A clear statement of why was summed up with, “The Bolt can be used like a normal gasoline-powered vehicle.”
Ever-acerbic contributor Michael Jordan stated, “Now that we’ve all driven the Chevy Bolt, it’s clear that anyone who still doubts the era of practical EV motors is upon us should be awarded honorary membership in the Climate-Change Denial and Flat Earth Society.” He went on to say, “A low center of gravity from the battery packaged under the floor sounds like a good deal, but often the price is a high step-in height and heavy-footed dynamics. However, the dynamics of this package are as impressive as the cruising range.”
Chevrolet Bolt EV 2017 All Star Winner rear three quarter in motion
Lively handling, mounds of torque, and impressive range make for a package that both satisfies and entertains.
Not all comments were completely positive. Associate editor Jonathon Klein said, “While I applaud General Motors for delivering a cheap mass-market electric vehicle before Tesla, the interior feels like a rushed afterthought and far too cheap for the price point. It has none of the essence that makes Tesla such a dominant force in the public’s mind. It won’t outsell the Model 3.” Meanwhile, Pilgrim and executive editor Mac Morrison returned from our mountain route chuckling about the driver and passenger seats, which Morrison compared unfavorably to “low-end, turret-style removable seats common in the bows of aluminum fishing boats.”
Lassa found the Bolt to be much more confident on the mountain road than the Toyota Prius Prime. “The Bolt’s impressive range makes the BMW i3 pretty much obsolete, even with the bigger battery pack for 2017,” he said.
For me, this was the most compelling car in the group. I drove it back from Mount Charleston to Speedvegas. When I took the wheel, the dash readout announced 114 miles of range remaining. When I arrived at the track, having maintained a good pace all the way — being passed by only one of our All-Stars contenders, the Aston Martin DB11 — I was astonished by the stated remaining range: 113 miles. The power regeneration switch really works well. Yes, on average the drive was downhill, but even so, that was amazing. The Bolt is an electric car that I — and tens of thousands of others — could easily live with. Dynamics, ergonomics, and comfort are perfectly satisfactory for a daily driver. I was slightly cold on the drive from the mountain because I didn’t want to use power to heat the cabin, but that was totally unnecessary on my part.
If I was told I could take home any one of our candidates, could keep it as long as I liked, and maintain it at my expense, but when I was through I could not realize any income from selling it, the Bolt would have been my choice. Its size, utility, and simplicity are ideal for my real-world needs in a personal car for local driving. As Golden declared, “Such a damn good car and absolutely deserving of the All-Star designation.”
– Robert Cumberford
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Specifications
ON SALE Now
PRICE $37,495/$43,905 (base/as tested)
ENGINE Permanent magnet drive motor/200 hp, 266 lb-ft
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-motor, FWD wagon
EPA MILEAGE 128/110 mpge (city/hwy); 238-mile total range
L X W X H 164 x 69.5 x 62.8 in
WHEELBASE 102.4 in
WEIGHT 3,563 lb
0-60 MPH 6.3 sec
TOP SPEED 91 mph ...
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