Doug Kerr, daughter Andie Kerr, fiancee Barbara Gleason; Fiat 500e, Ford Focus Electric, Fiat 500eEnlarge Photo
When the Chevrolet Bolt Concept was first unveiled in January 2015, I was impressed. It had a tiny vestigial grill, and a raked windshield that ended at the roof edge. It was a compact utility vehicle look-alike, but it also had a sportiness about it—and an obvious EV identity.
Somewhere along the way to mass production, the Bolt gained not one, but two fake grills, the second one blemishing the front bumper with a massive black blob. So much for that EV identity.
Of course, the windshield was shortened for practicality, and the flush door handles met the same fate. Even the C-pillar was amputated, perhaps in an effort to emulate the BMW i3 look. Side note to GM: please don’t ever try to emulate the i3 look again.
To my perspective, the Bolt had lost its sporty EV identity, and replaced it with the looks of a pedestrian crossover shape like so many in the mid-$20,000 class.
The Bolt had become just another Honda CR-V-alike, but with much better technology and a lower ride height. Fine.
I figured I could get a dark grey metallic one that would cover up most of these design sins. The black blob fake grill and the amputated C-pillar would fade into obscurity.
Chevrolet Bolt EV concept, 2015 Detroit Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
I was still enthralled with the idea of a high-range electric car that my fiancée and I could afford. So I called my local Chevrolet dealer, the neighbor of a friend, and ordered a Bolt EV when the first orders were processed.
I should point out that I'm not new to electric cars. I leased a 2013 Ford Focus Electric, and now have a Fiat 500e for my college-age daughter—and a 500e for me.
My fiancée drives a 2005 Toyota Prius she purchased new, and that's what we want to replace with a higher-range electric car.
When I first shopped for EVs, there were few choices, and none that went over 100 miles that weren’t named Tesla.
I just couldn't live with the Nissan Leaf look, so I went with the "Model S for the rest of us": the Focus Electric. The Fiats were an easy purchase. If Fiat was practically giving these cars away, why resist?
2017 Nissan LeafEnlarge Photo
But times have changed. A 100-mile electric car is a great second car. Everyone should have one, especially in California, where the prices are, shall we say, competitive.
But we needed a primary car that was expected to be convenient.
We wanted an all-electric car that would take us on a trip to the mountains or to San Diego or Palm Springs without the need to recharge on the way.
The Bolt was the EV answer to our needs, so I ordered a Bolt EV Premier, with nearly every option.
The car doesn't yet come with automatic emergency braking above 37 mph. Okay, but it really should be standard equipment—or at least optional on all versions.
Beyond low-speed automatic braking, there is no automated driving features. The blind-spot alert lets you know when a car is in the lane you're about to merge into. The full camera vision is really helpful when parallel parking.