When Chevy rolled out the first Bolt EV in 2017, it was met with widespread acclaim and poor sales. It was a brilliant, frugal little everyman EV that the everyman didn’t want. It’s too good for us; the hero we need, but not the one we deserve. We’re too gluttonous, opting instead, as we always have, for bigger, heavier, more needlessly decadent vehicles, using the EV revolution as an opportunity to flex on our neighbors, rather than to fix what’s wrong with commuting. GM has announced that this will be the last year of Bolt production, meaning that the 2023 Chevrolet Bolt EUV Premier we tested this week is dead on arrival, and you killed it.
This isn’t the first time that General Motors developed a brilliant little electric car, and then axed it in the name of profitability. They tried this with the unique EV-1 in the late 90’s, and it was unanimously adored by its owners, only for GM to repossess them all and crush them. They’re not going quite that far with the Bolt, but GM’s sensible little golf cart is once again dead at the behest of profitably, despite enjoying record sales. The production line is being retooled to build electric pickup trucks, because you are more willing to drop six figures on a ridiculous electric Hummer that, at nine thousand pounds, qualifies as a commercial truck that doesn’t need to adhere to normal safety standards or report energy use. Green vehicle my ass.
Our Bolt test vehicle came draped in appropriate garb for its own funeral, wearing Mosaic Black paint, along with black wheels, as part of the $570 Redline edition package, which includes said wheels and red highlights, serving to breathe a last gasp of life into the doomed Bolt. Its 2022 facelift still looks fresh, giving it tight, contemporary styling that admittedly is not quite as interesting as something like an Ioniq 5 but neatly manages to avoid being a Tesla clone. It’s still a sharp looking little orb, but we’d prefer it with less somber coloring.
Our Bolt EUV’s cabin makes for a nice place to sit, with perforated, powered, heated, and ventilated leather seats, lots of metallic accents to brighten things up, and panoramic sunroof for natural levity. Unlike seemingly every other EV on the market, it deliberately strays away from hyper-futurism, opting instead for a nice blend of modern form and classic function. Modernity comes in the form of a piano black (ugh) center stack, framing a 10.26-inch touchscreen with a crisp display and sharp reflexes, and functionality comes in the form of sensibly placed physical buttons, and knobs for volume and tuning – brilliant.
The cabin is bright, airy, and spacious, with plenty of storage room, very generous seating accommodation, and a silly amount of cargo space with the rear seats folded down. Materials feel of quality and everything is logically laid out and easy to use and understand, which is again, more than can be said for a lot of too-modern EVs. This isn’t cutting-edge for the sake of cutting edge, it’s supposed to just work and by all measures, it does.
That doesn’t mean there’s an absence of cutting edge tech here, as GM’s ingenious Supercruise system is an option on the Bolt, making it by far the cheapest vehicle with this incredibly impressive technology available. It’s one of the few true hands-free driver assist suites on the market, and easily one of if not the most effective; a killer app for a commuter vehicle. GM’s infotainment is also superbly slick in operation, and includes an excellent navigation system, augmented by wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto if you prefer to do it yourself. The Bose sound system delivers crisp audio with rich bass performance, and sounds great with the low noise floor from the well insulated cabin.
On the road, the Bolt is similarly well isolated from road and wind noise, with remarkably good ride quality even on ruined pavement. That doesn’t mean it’s pillowy soft, as the suspension is calibrated with good body control, which is aided and abetted by well gauged steering, that feels organic and relatively communicative, making the little Bolt fun to chuck around. Motivation is handled by a single 200-horsepower motor perched between the front wheels, fed by a 65kWh battery pack, which is utilized as a stressed member for the car’s structure, trimming weight and improving efficiency. This allows the relatively small battery to get up to 398 kilometers of range.
There are other EVs that can boast more range, or more performance, or more outrageous styling, but the 2023 Chevrolet Bolt EUV Premier stands alone in the class of electric vehicles that are genuinely excellent to live with at a very reasonable price. It’s small outside but not small inside, it’s fun to chuck around and comfortable to putter around in, and offers good range. Our fully loaded test vehicle at $49,938 has every feature you could ever want, will literally drive itself, and still slots in under the national average new car price of fifty grand, even before tax credits! What else do you need an EV to be? Oh, right, a huge truck. Rest in peace little Bolt, you’re too good for us heathens.