Even before either model went on sale, everyone started gearing up for the fight between theand the .
Now that Tesla has seen fit to finally divulge the specifications of its first affordable EV, we spent a lovely evening combing through spreadsheets to bring you a comparison of how these two stack up against one another.
The Model 3 is a big boy
The Model 3 is a fair bit larger than the Bolt EV in nearly every direction. Its wheelbase is more than 10 inches longer, and its overall width is 20.8 inches longer than the Chevrolet. It’s also about 3 inches wider. The Bolt EV wins the height category, though, as it’s six inches taller than the Tesla.
The Tesla rides lower to the ground, at 5.5 inches. Chevrolet doesn’t have an official ground clearance figure, but the lowest point measured by the Bolt EV owners forum sits about 6.0 inches off the ground. The Tesla is also far slipperier, with a drag coefficient of 0.23 versus the Bolt EV’s 0.308.
While the Tesla may be larger, with the base battery installed, it’s actually 40 pounds lighter than the Bolt EV. With the big battery in there, though, it adds nearly 300 pounds to the car’s mass.
Model 3 is roomy, but hauls less cargo
The Tesla is larger on the outside, so you’d be right thinking that it’s roomier inside, too. The Tesla Model 3 wins in front legroom, front and rear shoulder room, and front and rear hip room. Without its expensive glass roof, it has 0.1 inches less front headroom than the Bolt EV. Add that roof in, though, and you get another 0.7 inches of space for your noggin.
The Bolt EV wins on rear headroom (by 0.2 inches) and rear legroom (by 1.3 inches). It’s also packing more storage capacity, at 16.9 cubic feet versus Tesla’s 15.0.
Battle of the batteries
For some strange reason, Tesla did not divulge the horsepower and torque output of the Model 3’s electric motor, nor has it offered the actual battery capacity as measured in kilowatt-hours. If that changes, I’ll come back and revise this section, but for now, we’ve only got those figures for the Bolt EV.
The Tesla Model 3’s base battery confers a 220-mile range, which is a bit less than the Bolt EV’s 238. The base Model 3 packs better performance, though, hitting 60 mph in 5.6 seconds (versus 6.5-ish) and reaching a top speed of 130 mph (versus a paltry 93).
Add the bigger battery, and the Tesla’s numbers get better. Range bumps up to 310 miles, the 0-60 time drops to 5.1 seconds, and the top speed extends to 140 mph.
When it comes to charging, all Teslas come with pay-per-use Supercharging, which adds 130 miles of range every 30 minutes on the base battery (170 miles per 30 minutes for the bigger one). The fastest charging for the Bolt EV is DC Fast Charging, which is a $750 option and adds 90 miles of range every 30 minutes.
The Tesla has officially beaten the Bolt EV when it comes to a base price. At $35,000 before incentives, it slides just under the Bolt EV’s base price of $37,495. The bigger battery pushes the price point up to $44,000, or a few grand more than the Bolt EV’s fancier Premier trim, which offers no additional range or performance.
Options out the wazoo
When it comes to options, the Bolt EV is a bit more traditional. There’s a base LT trim ($37,495), and a Premier trim ($41,780) that adds heated leather seats, roof rails, turn indicators on the mirrors, a surround-view camera, ambient lighting, rear parking sensors and the rearview mirror that can swap between traditional and camera-based views.
LT buyers can spend $555 to get heated seats and a heated steering wheel. $495 adds rear parking sensors and blind zone monitoring. DC Fast Charging capability is $750.
Premier buyers can spend $485 on wireless phone charging, a 7-speaker audio system and more USB ports. Another $495 will net you auto high beams, forward collision warning and lane-keep assist. DC Fast Charging capability remains at $750.
In terms of paint colors, you get blue, black, gray, silver and white for free. Bright blue, orange or red will set you back $395.
As for the Tesla, the only free color is black. If you want silver, blue, another silver, white or red, it’ll cost you $1,000. 18-inch wheels are standard, but 19-inchers are another $1,500.
There are no trim levels on the Model 3. All Model 3 buyers can spend $5,000 on a package that adds fancier interior trim, power front seats, a premium audio system, a glass roof, heated side mirrors, LED fog lights and a center console.
Another $5,000 adds “Enhanced Autopilot,” which works similar to the SAE Level 2 system currently seen in the Model S. It’ll hold itself in a lane, change lanes, match speeds with traffic, exit a highway and eventually park itself. The driver will need to maintain attention the entire time. Drop another $3,000 on top of that, and when the time is right, your car will allegedly be capable of conducting entire trips with no driver action whatsoever.
Supercharging access is on a pay-per-use basis, but all cars are capable of hooking up to Superchargers from the factory, so Tesla’s got the edge on the Bolt EV there.
Warranties matter, too
In terms of warranty, Tesla offers a 4-year, 50,000-mile basic vehicle warranty. Its base battery is backed by an 8-year, 100,000-mile warranty. The long-range battery sees that mileage figure leap to 120,000 miles, a strategy we haven’t yet seen from an automaker offering different battery capacities.
The Bolt EV has the same base battery warranty at 8 years, 100,000 miles. Its vehicle warranty, though, is on the low side, at 3 years or 36,000 miles. However, it also has a powertrain warranty for 5 years or 60,000 miles.
Tesla doesn’t make it clear whether or not its warranty is only for the vehicle, or if it also includes the powertrain.
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