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Chevy Bolt EV vs Tesla Model 3: Which Electric Vehicle Wins?

The electric vehicle (EV) market has exploded in recent years, with most major automakers releasing new EVs to meet growing demand. Two of the most popular affordable EV options come from very different brands – the Chevy Bolt EV and the Tesla Model 3. But when comparing these EVs side-by-side, which one comes out on top?

As an EV expert and enthusiast, I‘ve done extensive research on both vehicles. Here‘s an in-depth comparison of the Chevy Bolt EV versus the Tesla Model 3 – from pricing and performance to range, charging, tech features and more – to help you decide which EV is the best fit for your needs.

Chevy Bolt EV vs Tesla Model 3: At a Glance

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details, here‘s a high-level overview of how these two affordable EVs stack up:

Specs Chevy Bolt EV Tesla Model 3
Starting Price $27,495 $43,990
Range 259 miles 272-358 miles
0-60 mph Time 6.5 seconds 3.1-4.2 seconds
Max Charging Speed 55 miles in 30 mins (DC fast charging) Up to 175 miles in 15 mins (Tesla Supercharging)
SeatingCapacity 5 seats 5 seats
Cargo Volume 16.6 cu ft 15 cu ft
Infotainment Screen Size 10.2-inch touchscreen 15-inch touchscreen
Driver Assistance Features Lane keep assist, automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert Autopilot, full self-driving capability (option)

As you can see, there are some clear differences that set these two apart when it comes to pricing, performance, charging speeds, cargo space, infotainment tech and advanced driver assistance features. Keep reading for a more detailed comparison.

Pricing: Chevy Bolt Has a Significant Cost Advantage

The most obvious difference between the Chevy Bolt EV and Tesla Model 3 is the purchase price.

With a $27,495 starting MSRP for the base 1LT trim, the Bolt undercuts the Model 3 by over $16,000. Even when you upgrade to higher Bolt trims, it still costs thousands less than the cheapest Model 3.

The Model 3‘s current pricing starts at $43,990 for the rear-wheel drive (RWD) variant. You‘ll pay even more for the performance and long range models, pushing close to $60k.

One reason the Bolt costs much less even though it‘s also well-equipped is that GM can leverage its scale and existing factories and supply chains to produce EVs efficiently. As a newer EV-only automaker, Tesla doesn‘t benefit from those assets.

Winner: Chevy Bolt

Driving Range: Advantage Tesla

Driving range is a top priority for EV buyers, as it determines how far you can travel between charging stops.

All Chevy Bolt EV variants deliver an EPA-rated 259 miles of range on a full charge. That‘s plenty for most drivers’ daily commuting and errands.

Meanwhile the Tesla Model 3 long range model boasts an industry-leading 358 miles of range, soundly beating the Bolt. Even the standard Model 3 RWD offers 272 miles, slightly higher than the Bolt.

Tesla‘s batteries and efficiency give it an edge here. Still, 259 miles gives you a lot of flexibility before needing to charge if you mostly drive around town.

Winner: Tesla Model 3

Charging Comparison: Tesla Leads on Speed, Chevy on Accessibility

Charging infrastructure is almost as important as range when choosing an EV. Faster charging enables longer road trips with fewer lengthy charging stops. More charging stations give you more options when out and about.

The Chevy Bolt EV supports Level 2 charging up to 7.2 kW, allowing a full charge overnight at home. It can also DC fast charge at up to 55 kW, adding up to 100 miles of range in 30 minutes.

With the Tesla Model 3, you get support for high-speed Level 2 charging up to 11 kW for quicker home charging. At Tesla Superchargers, the Model 3 can add up to 175 miles of range in just 15 minutes.

Tesla‘s vast Supercharger network gives its owners unparalleled access to ultra-fast charging for long distance driving. However, Chevy Bolt owners can access over 40,000 public charging plugs across North America, giving more charging location options.

Winner: Tie. Tesla offers faster charging speeds but Chevy matches it for charging accessibility.

Performance: Tesla Model 3 Is Considerably Quicker

Performance, acceleration and handling are other key factors that distinguish these two EVs.

The Chevy Bolt EV delivers lively acceleration, going 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds. It handles decently well for an affordable compact car thanks to a low center of gravity from its battery pack. But it prioritizes efficiency over sportiness.

In comparison, even the most basic Tesla Model 3 sedan reaches 60 mph nearly 3 seconds quicker at 3.1-3.2 seconds. The performance model cuts that down further to just 3.1 seconds, putting some supercars to shame. Beyond sheer acceleration, the Model 3 also offers responsive, agile handling from its independent rear suspension and near-perfect weight distribution.

Winner: Tesla Model 3

Dimensions and Cargo Space: Bolt Offers More Interior Room

Being in the compact crossover category, you might expect the Bolt EV to have less passenger and cargo space than the midsize Model 3 sedan. However, that‘s not quite the case when you look at the specs.

The Bolt provides a decently roomy interior for a small car, with 93.9 cubic feet of passenger volume. That‘s only 2 cu ft less than the Model 3. The Bolt‘s flat battery pack under the floor creates a low load floor that makes good use of its vertical space.

Cargo space tips slightly in favor of the Chevy Bolt EV too. It offers 16.6 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the rear seats. The Model 3 comes in at 15 cubic feet. Considering their similar exterior footprints, they’re evenly matched inside.

Winner: Tie. Similar passenger room and cargo space. Bolt edges out in vertical storage.

Technology and Connectivity: Tesla’s Advanced Interface

Modern vehicles are defined by technology as much as mechanical bits, and EVs take that even further. The Bolt EV and Model 3 take very different approaches to cabin tech and connectivity.

The Chevy Bolt EV’s 10.2-inch central touchscreen runs Chevy’s latest Infotainment 3 Plus system, offering Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration. It looks slick but isn‘t as responsive or feature-packed as Tesla‘s setup. Bolt also offers standard amenities like keyless access, push button start, HD rear camera, etc.

Meanwhile, the Model 3‘s sprawling 15-inch central display feels like having a smartphone or tablet integrated directly into the dash, enabling access to navigation, entertainment, vehicle controls and more via the web-based interface.

Over-the-air software updates also bring regular UI enhancements and new functionality to the Model 3. And you can stream media from online services over LTE wireless connectivity powered by the car’s built-in SIM card, completely independent of your phone.

Winner: Tesla Model 3

Safety and Driver Assistance: Both Get Top Ratings

Safety is paramount no matter what vehicle you choose for yourself and your family. Fortunately, both the 2023 Chevy Bolt EV and Tesla Model 3 ace crash testing and offer high-tech electronic driver assistance tech.

The Chevy Bolt earns exceptional five-star overall safety scores from NHTSA as well as being an IIHS Top Safety Pick thanks to standard safety equipment like front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist, forward collision alert and auto high beams.

Likewise, the Tesla Model 3 achieves an NHTSA 5-star rating across all categories plus a Top Safety Pick + recognition from IIHS. That’s thanks to qualities like rigid passenger structure, low rollover risk, and standard autopilot driver assistance features.

One advantage the Bolt EV holds here is including Teen Driver mode to encourage safe habits for new young motorists.

Winner: Tie. Both are among the safest vehicles in their segments.

Verdict: Tesla Model 3 Is the Winner, But Bolt Holds Strong Value

When comparing the Chevy Bolt EV versus Tesla Model 3 across these categories, its clear why the Tesla comes out on top for those wanting maximum performance, technology and charging capabilities.

However, the Chevy Bolt EV puts up strong competition while costing far less. If you drive mostly in-town routes under 200 miles daily, value practicality over flashy tech features, or simply want a very affordable EV, the Bolt remains a fantastic choice that won‘t leave you with buyer‘s remorse.

At the end of the day, deciding between the Bolt and Model 3 comes down to aligning your priorities to what each vehicle does best. Both are compelling picks that show why EVs make excellent daily transportation.

Recent Updates for Chevy Bolt EV and Tesla Model 3

Chevrolet and Tesla continually improve their electric vehicles via changes for new model years. Here are some notable updates these EVs have received just within the past year:

2023 Chevy Bolt EV Updates:

  • Refreshed exterior design with new front/rear fascias
  • Upgraded interior materials and color options
  • Larger 11-inch infotainment touchscreen
  • Now includes automatic emergency braking and front pedestrian detection as standard
  • Available adaptive cruise control and other driver assistance upgrades
  • Improved regen braking for one-pedal driving experience
  • More powerful charging capabilities via dual-level charge cord

2023 Tesla Model 3 Updates:

  • Improved build quality and materials
  • Power trunk release added
  • Switched to Li-ion 12V battery
  • Added TikTok streaming to entertainment options
  • Integrated wireless phone charger on chargeport side of console
  • Switch from radar to Tesla Vision camera-based Autopilot system
  • Significantly increased tow rating from 980 lbs to 2,000 lbs

What’s Next: Future Improvements to Expect

Chevrolet and Tesla also have developments in store to enhance these models even further down the road:

Chevy Bolt EV:

  • Longer battery range targeting 300+ miles
  • Faster home, public and DC fast charging
  • More advanced hands-free driving assistance via Ultra Cruise
  • Integrated route planning for EV charging stops
  • Over-the-air updates to vehicle software

Tesla Model 3:

  • Updated battery cells for extended driving range
  • Front & rear casting manufacturing improvements
  • Enhanced Autopilot self-driving capabilities
  • Additional camera and sensor hardware
  • Better cold-weather performance
  • Customizable infotainment via app store integration
  • Video game integration

Both automakers remain committed to the future of electric transportation and we can expect both the Chevy Bolt EV and Tesla Model 3 to raise the technology benchmark for affordable mainstream EVs.