Californians got the chance to buy Chevrolet Bolt EV electric cars before everyone else, and the compact hatchback has sold well in the state, aided by its 238-mile rated range.
Last February, readers John and Mimi Porter of San Diego shared their first impressions of the new silver Bolt EV they had purchased the previous month.
Now we have a one-year update from the pair. What follows are John Porter's words, edited by Green Car Reports for comprehension, style, and length.
DON'T MISS: 2017 Chevy Bolt EV electric car: new owner's first impressions (Feb 2017)
I’m amazed a year has passed already since we took delivery of our Bolt EV.
A little background: My wife and I are retired, living in San Diego. We primarily drive a Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric minicar along with the Bolt, both recharged from the 22 grid-tied photovoltaic solar panels on our roof.
We bought the Bolt sight unseen, based on the reviews available at this time last year. For us, it was an unusual way to choose an automobile. Thankfully, the reviews were accurate.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Having had a variety of cars over 50 years of driving, I value several things about any new vehicle: visibility, comfort, performance, and reliability.
Having a dealer nearby for service is important, too. So I've drawn some conclusions on our Bolt EV based on those criteria.
Visibility, which is crucially important in negotiating heavy Southern California traffic, is very good in the Bolt. And that's without the "all-around" view and lane-departure warning options.
We've had no close calls while changing lanes—our biggest bugaboo—though I’d like to see lane alert and surround-view become a standard feature on future models.
Comfort is somewhat problematic. I’ve adjusted to the overly narrow front seats, but wouldn’t want to take a trip of several hours in them. I’d like to see GM will address the issue by widening the seats by a few inches. I like the upright seating in general, which offers a feeling of commanding the road.
Otherwise, the car is surprisingly roomy. Its hatchback design is excellent for carrying a group of people or folding the back seats flat to haul big objects such as golf bags.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV 5dr HB LT Rear Seats
It has plenty of storage and places for water bottles and the other small stuff you bring into the passenger compartment. A storage area in the back under the load floor is good for low use items.
Finally, the noise level is low. Even at highway speed, the only noise we hear is the tires—and we've had no rattles or squeaks so far.
Performance is exceptional, and this is where the Bolt EV really shines: I love its power and acceleration. The handling is precise, with a solid feel for the road.
In the past, when changing lanes, I always waited for openings in the other lane by watching the rear-view mirror, then dropping into them. Now, if I see an opening ahead of me, I can instantly accelerate into it—which doubles my maneuvering options.
I always drive the Bolt in L, the strongest regen mode, which noticeably slows the car when I lift off the accelerator. For complete braking to a stop, the steering-wheel paddle slows the car even more. The overall effect is one-pedal driving with little use of the brake pedal.
But my wife isn’t into one-pedal driving so much, so she just uses D for most situations. No problem, just somewhat less efficient.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
We’ve had zero problems with any aspect of the Bolt EV, which speaks well for Chevy’s quality control. We haven’t been back to the dealer since we drove the car off the lot a year ago.
This contrasts to our experience with the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, which has spent significant time at the dealer for issues with the battery and the tires. I rate the Bolt’s reliability as excellent based on that comparison.
Our Bolt is due for its first “service visit” at 7,500 miles. It seems to be mostly to rotate the tires and inspect the car: Little hands-on activity is involved.
A call to the dealership indicated a $20 charge for tire rotation. Not bad—and it illustrates the low cost of maintenance for electric cars.
It took us a while to master the entertainment center, which integrates mobile phone, radio, SiriusXM, and Wifi functions. It’s now a joy to use rather than the dangerous distraction it was at first.
The same goes for the environmental control system, which integrates manual and touchscreen controls somewhat awkwardly.
2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Overall, we still consider the Bolt a treat to drive. As Seinfeld's Kramer would say, “I’m lovin' it”.
This is the best car I’ve had in my entire driving career. And, of course, it doesn’t use a drop of you-know-what.
For Tesla Model 3 reservation-holders, I have good news and bad news.
The good news is that the Bolt is an entirely viable option to the Model 3 if production delays continue (at least for local and regional use).
The bad news is that the Bolt EV competes well with the Tesla sedan almost across the board—though some buyers will prefer the Model 3's sedan with its trunk, while others will like the flexibility of the Bolt's hatchback.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016
A few months ago I emailed General Motors CEO Mary Barra to compliment her on the Bolt EV.
She replied with a “Thank you” and. “Your email brought a smile to my face”
I’d like to think she actually replied in person.