When fully electric vehicles make a go of it in wide-open-spaces America, the Chevrolet Bolt EV should be remembered for leading the charge.

The all-electric Bolt five-seater wasn’t available in time for Wards 10 Best Engines testing a year ago, but now that we’ve put it through our real-world gauntlet of day-to-day driving we can see why this world-changing hatchback has received nearly every award on the planet.

With its promise of electric mobility for the masses, the affordable Bolt  – now on sale in all 50 states for $37,495 before federal and state tax incentives – is a fun-to-drive, power-packed runabout that shelves worries about electric-battery range in typical daily driving routines.

“The Bolt is a good performer with plenty of range,” says judge Dave Zoia. “It’s the new benchmark for EVs.”

Adds judge Jim Irwin: “What range anxiety? The Bolt truly is a game changer.”

The Bolt’s official range is 238 miles (383 km), with a 9-hour recharging time from a Level 2, 240V, 32-amp outlet. A two-hour, 240V recharge is good for about 50 miles (80 km), enough for most commutes. For those with access to a Level 3 DC Fast Charger, the Bolt’s 60-kWh lithium-ion battery pack recharges from empty in two hours.

As we discovered in long-distance drives during the past year, the Bolt exceeds its EPA-official range if driven with even minimal attention to conservation and we hear that it can exceed 300 miles (483 km). While it’s hard to measure relative “green-ness” when it comes to pure EVs, we think an EPA-combined 119 mpg-e (2.0 L/100 km) is impressive.

While range and recharging are always top of mind with an electric vehicle, we also applaud the Bolt’s abundant 266-lb.-ft. (360-Nm) of torque available from launch that’s not only capable of squawking the tires off the line but decisively rockets the car to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.5 seconds. At speed, the Bolt’s 200 hp is more than adequate to maintain highway velocity and to provide added power as needed for passing or climbing grades.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, we already are fans of one-foot driving made possible by the Bolt’s aggressive regenerative braking backed by a steering-wheel paddle that enhances the regen effect.

Finally, we must thank those who planned the Bolt for providing clear instruments to keep track of distance traveled and estimated range, both on the short end and at the farthest limit. Being able to easily keep track of available electrons allows for pleasant, quiet and stress-free driving.

“The future is here – today,” concludes judge James Amend.

bgritzinger@wardsauto.com @bobgritzinger