ELECTRIC VEHICLES WERE typically good for less than 100 miles of range–unless you have the $100,000-plus for a Tesla. That was until now. Chevrolet’s new all-electric Bolt (not to be confused with Chevrolet’s plug-in electric hybrid, the Volt) promises a range of 238 miles along with a vastly more affordable price tag.

Even if the Bolt ends up with a slightly lower real world range, such a long leash endows the car with much more practicality than rival EVs. The result: less travel planning is required on the owner’s part, there is much less white-knuckle range anxiety, and more emissionsfree serenity.

We rented a Bolt in advance of purchasing our own for testing, so we could get a feel for how liveable this compact EV hatch will be.

Driving Impressions The Bolt’s rather mundane looks mask the car’s advanced technology and sophistication. Tap the throttle and you immediately feel the silent, instant electric torque. With 200 electrified horses on tap, this small hatchback accelerates with gusto. Despite its tall stance the Bolt feels planted in corners. This is due in large part to its lowmounted battery. We found that Chevrolet’s electric car is eager to tackle a curvy road and actually fun to drive-virtues that most EVs can’t claim. The ride is firm, yet composed, giving the Bolt a solid and substantial feel. Choosing the gear selector’s L position increases regenerative braking, capturing energy to recharge the battery. Choose to leave the lever in D and the Bolt coasts like any conventional car.

Like in the Chevrolet Volt, there’s a paddle on the back of the steering wheel that you squeeze to engage even more regenerative braking.

Inside the Cabin
You sit high in the Bolt and the big windows make it feel open and airy. There’s decent space in the rear seat, helped by a totally flat floor. Nicely textured plastic and colored stitching on the optional leather seats liven up the cabin.

A huge 10.2-inch screen dominates the dash. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is nice, too. The optional surround-view camera, on top of the standard backup camera, is a handy touch. The Bolt’s top-trim Premier version adds leather, blindspot monitoring, front and rear heated seats, and a heated steering wheel. Only the Premier version offers advanced safety gear, such as forwardcollision warning and automatic emergency braking, and even then it is only optional. We wish it was standard across the line.