There’s something very American about the internal combustion engine. We equate it with many things, from going places and getting the job done to horsepower, octane and speed. During the summer months, there’s adventure that goes with it as families embark on the Great American Roadtrip to see the country by car. As habits, tastes and technology have changed, gas-power has started to make way for electric, and while there’s something to be said about the rumble under the hood, the case for electric is an increasingly appealing one, and the old limits of cost, range and lack of style are getting tossed aside. Adventure? Yes, you can have adventure in an electric car, and the Chevrolet Bolt EV is a prime example of just how far things have come.
The 2018 Bolt EV is an affordable all-electric car that has ample size, attractive styling and some real range. Living in northern Illinois, the earliest EVs I had here for testing and review suffered from serious range issues – especially in commuting throughout Chicagoland from the suburbs to city. Factor in unpredictable weather and battery life could be a serious issue. For many families, a round trip for work could easily use the better part of the 100-mile-ish range offered by most EVs – and a Tesla Model S was out of reach for most. Then the Bolt came onto the scene and just blew the competition away with a 238-mile range, taking a massive frogleap right over the pack to become second only to the double-the-price Tesla.
On a recent Friday night, our family of four headed out to the McHenry Outdoor Theater, a classic American drive-in that’s been operating since 1955. To think of how many different cars that gravel lot has seen over the course of the past 60+ years is a fascinating study of the changing times. Just as the theater itself has evolved from film projection to digital, the vehicles coming through are evolving form gas to electric, the 2018 Chevy Bolt sitting beneath the stars like the ’57 Chevys that came before it.
For a double-feature of Lucasfilm’s Solo: A Star Wars Story and Marvel Studios‘ Avengers: Infinity War, we laid the seats flat to create a little nest for our girls. As a family car, the Bolt is surprisingly spacious and one that everyone enjoyed. The passenger cabin sits four adults quite comfortably, which means hauling two kids in car seats (as we do) is a non-issue, and when tailgating there’s room to spare. While there’s a drive-in tradition of starting your car during intermission to charge the battery, that doesn’t have to be done here – but I did bring along our iON Tailgater wireless speaker to use for sound… just in case battery drain were to become an issue, which it didn’t.
As for daily use, my wife could easily do her commute, but there is a little bit of a learning curve. If we owned the Bolt, I would certainly have a proper charger installed in the garage, but for our loan I opted to charge overnight using standard power. That’s only a trickle, though, equating to just four miles per hour when plugged in. Fortunately, there’s tools like the myChevrolet mobile app to help locate fast chargers, and for longer trips it’s a good idea to plan your charges ahead of time. Even close to home, it was nice to discover that Gurnee Mills has a charging station. We plugged in the bolt while running errands and the battery was nearly topped-off by the time we were done.
With an interior packed with features like a Bose 7-Speaker Premium sound system, 10.5 touch screen with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, multiple USB ports and a robust set of gauges and info screens, the tech and comfort is locked (there’s also the 4G LTE Wi-Fi that Chevrolet pioneered a few years back). Factor in the safety features like lane assist, blind spot warning and the rear back-up camera and pretty much everything we could want is here. That made me sad to let the sunny little “Orange Burst Metallic” Bolt go at the end of our test drive week. From picking up ice cream to a stop at the garden center and running the kids to-and-from their activities, the Bolt EV was not only comfortable, but a fun drive as well.
The 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV starts $37,495. As-driven $43,155. Federal tax credits bring the cost down to right around $30K, plus you won’t be paying $3+ per gallon for gas. Get full specs and build yours at Chevrolet.com