2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV first drive: 240 miles in an electric car Page 2

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When you set out, the normal Drive mode on the “gear selector” lever behaves just like a car fitted with an automatic transmission—complete with idle creep when the car is stopped unless you keep your foot on the brakes.

But we spent virtually our entire drive using the alternative Low range, which increases regenerative braking considerably—and will smoothly slow the car to a complete stop without using the brakes.

It’s the vaunted “one-pedal driving” launched by the original Tesla Roadster, and now available only in the BMW i3 and (to a lesser extent) the Tesla Model S and Model X.

We felt the Bolt EV’s regen was a little smoother around the edges than the i3’s, though we’re eager to test the cars head-to-head to see if our sense was accurate.

Chevy deserves credit for offering both types of driving in the same car. Most electric cars mimic the automatic-transmission driving experience, often with various modes that increase regen.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Aug 2016

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Aug 2016

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Then there’s the BMW i3, which offers only one-pedal driving and no conventional mode. The Bolt EV is the sole mass-market car to offer genuine one-pedal driving and the conventional feel as well, as Tesla does.

It’s worth noting, by the way, that the idle creep is entirely absent in Low. And there’s a hill-hold function regardless of mode that prevents the car from rolling back even the driver takes a foot off the brake pedal.

We completely forgot to test the Sport mode, which remaps the accelerator to deliver power more quickly. (Our apologies; we’ll do it next time.)

On the road, the Bolt EV doesn't feel as heavy as some steel-bodied electric cars do. With a weight of 3,580 pounds, it's relatively light for its 60-kwh battery size and 94-cubic-foot interior volume.

Handling and roadholding was predictable, and that 200-hp motor offers more than enough performance to keep up with traffic. Standing-start acceleration is good too.

The deceptive thing about the Bolt EV is that it looks considerably smaller than it actually is. Think of it as a tall wagon or (heaven forfend) a small minivan, and you'll get a sense of its interior volume.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Aug 2016

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Aug 2016

Enlarge Photo

In other words, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV delivers more interior volume than you'd expect, superb instrumentation, an electric-range rating beaten only by cars costing twice as much or more, and enjoyable performance.

Would we change anything? Well, it could stand to be just a little sexier to attract some buyers.

But we can't wait to get a Bolt EV onto our usual test route, since it's the first reasonably priced electric car that can make the run from New York City into the mountains—around 115 miles door to door—without a recharge.

Even at speed. Even in the winter. We can't wait.

Final details of 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV pricing, features, trim levels, and options will be released closer to the car’s on-sale date, now expected to be sometime next month or in November.

Chevrolet provided airfare, lodging, and meals to enable High Gear Media to bring you this first-person report.

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