Chevrolet Bolt EV: Green Car Reports' Best Car To Buy 2017

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Each year, Green Car Reports chooses a new car, or a family of cars, as the best green car introduced in that model year.

In 2011, our very first award, we picked the first-ever modern electric car to be sold in high volumes.

Six years later, we've picked the spiritual successor to that car, one that provides radically higher range at an affordable price.

This year, the Green Car Reports Best Car To Buy 2017 is the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

DON'T MISS: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV first drive: 240 miles in an electric car

The all-electric Bolt EV is EPA-rated at 238 miles of range, at a base price of $37,495.

That's the range of a Tesla, for roughly half the price. Pretty remarkable less than five years after the first Tesla Model S rolled off the lines, no?

The Bolt EV is a five-seat, five-door hatchback, with the footprint of a compact car but more interior volume (by a fraction of a cubic foot) than that Model S.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

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On the basics, the Bolt EV succeeds. The tall, upright body holds four adults comfortably. The shape may not be to everyone's taste, but the compact dimensions make it easier to park than that Model S.

The interior is bright and airy, with a low dash and crisp, high-resolution graphics with intuitive controls.

The floor is flat, because the battery pack sits under the floorpan and the rear seat, with the electric motor up front powering the front wheels.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Chevy Bolt EV review consensus: car is good, range is real

The most important thing about the Bolt EV, though, is how far you can go on a single charge. The EPA rates its range at 238 miles. Chevy promised 200 miles, and overdelivered.

Like any electric car, highway travel at speeds over 60 mph will eat range much faster than other uses.

We've found the 240-mile range to be real, during day-long drives that encompassed all kinds of driving conditions, from traffic to hills to interstates.

Chevrolet's Steve Majoros (R) accepts Green Car Reports 2017 Best Car To Buy award for Chevy Bolt EV

Chevrolet's Steve Majoros (R) accepts Green Car Reports 2017 Best Car To Buy award for Chevy Bolt EV

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The Bolt EV's battery capacity is 60 kilowatt-hours, and if pressed to the limit, it will use more than 90 percent of that.

Most owners are likely to drive the Bolt EV in daily use, recharging every couple of nights, perhaps no more than once a week.

It's also fun to drive, with confident handling and good off-the-line acceleration.

IN DETAIL: Chevy Bolt EV electric car for 'urban' sales: what does that mean?

Chevy says the Bolt EV's 0-to-60-mph acceleration time is about 7.0 seconds. it will scoot from 0 to 30 mph in less than 3.0 seconds—perfect for stop-light grand prix duty.

We do have a few quibbles.

A DC fast-charging port is a $750 option no matter what trim level you buy. The standard onboard charger is rated at 7.2 kilowatts, meaning a full recharge at 240 volts can take up to nine hours.

We also think "Bolt"—with a "B"—is a truly terrible name for a brand that also sells a car called the Volt—with a "V." Ask any Spanish speaker.

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

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

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Still, we've covered the 2017 Chevy Bolt EV quite a lot since the concept car was unveiled in January 2015.

It was obvious that it would be a nominee for the Best Car To Buy award whenever the production model arrived, with its unexpectedly high range.

What we hadn't expected was the enormous freedom of that 238-mile rating: drivers can ignore that battery gauge for hours at a time, even if they're behind the wheel much of the day.

CHECK OUT: 2017 Chevy Bolt EV: here's what can go wrong for electric-car pioneer

Chevy says the Bolt EV will be sold nationwide, not just in California and a few other electric-car-friendly markets.

It beats the much-publicized Tesla Model 3 to the market by a year at least, not to mention an all-new, longer-range version of the Nissan Leaf.

It's even further ahead of promised 200-miles-plus EVs from other carmakers.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

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For all those reasons, Green Car Reports names the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV as our Best Car To Buy for the year.

Congratulations to Chevy, to its technology partner LG, and to the teams that built it. It's a new, American-made, electric-car milestone.

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