As subcompact cars fade out and get replaced by larger crossovers, the segment isn’t what it used to be, with only a handful of players left. But for Canadian drivers looking for an affordable, cheerful, and efficient means of getting around, the Chevrolet Bolt EV has been voted the Best Subcompact Car in the 2023 AutoTrader Awards by our jury of more than 20 automotive journalists.
This is the first time an electric vehicle (EV) has won this award, and the Bolt EV earned more votes than the Kia Rio (last year’s winner), Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan Versa, and Mini Cooper. Our jury considers every vehicle available in this segment and votes for vehicles they feel confident recommending to their family and friends. In this category, our judges are looking for value for the money, efficiency, and practicality, and the Chevrolet Bolt EV nails it in all of these areas.
The Chevrolet Bolt EV is currently the second most affordable electric vehicle in the country, however, it offers the most range in its price bracket, a big reason why it has earned this win. Starting at $41,147 including fees but before any taxes or EV incentives are applied, the Bolt EV comes standard with a generous 417 km of range, though many drivers report getting much more range in real-world driving. The Bolt also calculates range based on your driving behaviour for more accurate estimates and also shows you a best-case and worst-case range scenario to help eliminate range anxiety. Hooked up to a DC fast charger, the Bolt EV can add 130 km of range in about half an hour.
While subcompact cars typically prioritize efficiency over performance, the front-wheel drive Bolt boasts output figures considered high for this segment. With 200 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque, the Bolt zips around with surprising authority, and it has a buttoned-down driving feel that’s hard for its competitors to match. One-pedal driving makes the drive even more fun and efficient, as the regenerative brakes recapture otherwise lost energy and uses it to charge the battery.
While the Bolt is more expensive than many of its competitors, it does offer a lot more in terms of standard features. Every Bolt comes with Chevrolet’s suite of driver assistance and safety features including automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, forward collision alert, pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking sensors, tire pressure monitoring, tire fill alerts, automatic high beams, teen driver settings, and more. Heated front seats and a heated steering wheel are standard, as are wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and the ability to have a wi-fi hotspot.
Perhaps even more impressive is that the Bolt’s upright shape allows for lots of passenger headroom and generous space for storage with 470 L in the trunk and 1,614 L with the seats folded. The Bolt also gets top marks for being so user-friendly. The Bolt EV’s simplicity and ease of use make it accessible and not intimidating, even if you’ve never driven an EV before. The straightforward layout and intuitive interface are huge highlights.