Sometimes we put too much emphasis on the way a vehicle handles or how fast it gets to 60 miles per hour. Sure, that stuff's relevant when testing a six-figure supercar – but who cares how quick or dynamic the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is? VW built a great electric crossover that isn't sporty in the slightest, and that's just fine.
The ID.4 is feature-rich with a comfortable ride, advanced safety equipment, and loads of style. Plus, it’s just as normal and inoffensive to drive as something like a Nissan Rogue. So although it may not be as sporty or speedy as alternatives from Ford and Tesla, the VW ID.4 ticks all the boxes you want for a traditional compact crossover that just so happens to be electric.
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Unlike the athletic Ford Mustang Mach-E or aerodynamic Tesla Model Y, the Volkswagen ID.4 opts for cleaner, simpler styling – and in my opinion, that actually makes it more appealing to the masses. The front end wears the company's new global design language, which consists of slim, rounded LED headlights connected by an accent bar and other basic detailing lower down on the front bumper. The new Volkswagen logo is also front and center on the hood, the ID.4 being the first to wear said look in the US.
The backside of the ID.4 is equally innocuous. A darkened taillight bar extends from one end to the other, with sharp-looking taillights at each corner housing segmented LED inserts. Our 1st Edition tester, which is already sold out, gets other exterior accents like a standard black-painted roof with silver rails, white ID.4 badging on the trunk lid, 1st Edition badges on the fenders, and special 20-inch alloy wheels. But even without these limited-edition options, the ID.4 is still nice to look at.
Inside, the ID.4 is minimalist for the most part, with a clean layout and basic materials like plastic and piano black trim. But the hospital-esque white steering wheel with a matching 5.3-inch digital gauge cluster surround and a white 12.0-inch touchscreen housing on our 1st Edition model is questionable, at best. VW tried to make the inside of the ID.4 feel more modern with these accents but ended up making the cabin look like an early-2000s Apple product (in a bad way). Those white accents clash aggressively with the rest of the cabin, but thankfully, all of them do come in a normal black finish on non-1st Edition models.
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Like most EVs, the ID.4 is heavy. This compact crossover tips the scales at 4,665 pounds, which is more substantial compared to something like a dual-motor Tesla Model Y (4,416 pounds). But while some EVs throw their weight around aggressively, the ID.4 manages that heft extremely well. The ride is refined even with 20-inch wheels, body roll is well-managed, and the ID.4 absorbs broken pavement very well. This vehicle is an absolute joy to drive on long stretches of highway.
The ID.4's front seats wear a faux black leather, while the steering wheel gets real cowhide trim. Note to animal lovers: this means the ID.4 isn’t vegan like the Model Y and Mach-E. The seats themselves are solid, with decent bolstering and enough cushiness to support your butt over long distances. But the open and airy front cabin is what will truly sell you on the drive experience; the 41.1 inches of front headroom and legroom are some of the best figures in the segment. Headroom is class-leading while only the Mach-E (41.7 inches) and Chevrolet Bolt EUV (44.3 inches) have more foot space.
The second row is decently roomy, too, with a solid 38.4 inches of headroom and 37.6 inches of legroom. Interestingly, the sloped-roof Mach-E actually offers more head and legroom in the second row (as does the Model Y). But entry into the ID.4 is easier thanks to its larger rear door openings, and the one-inch difference in headroom is barely noticeable due to the VW's massive panoramic glass roof. Plus you get 30.3 cubic feet of room behind the second row – more than the Mach-E’s 29.7 – and 64.2 with that second row folded flat. That’s better than the Mach-E (59.7 cubic feet), but down slightly compared to the Model Y (68.0 cubic feet).
Standard on the ID.4 is a 10.0-inch touchscreen running VW’s new “Discover Pro” infotainment system. The 1st Edition model gets an optional 12.0-inch screen with a more advanced “Discover Pro Max” setup that's easy to use. The graphics on the home screen are crisp, and the layout consists of clean white boxes and options that are easy to access with one touch. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard here, and the connection was entirely seamless for the duration of our test. Simply hop in the vehicle and the phone projection is there almost instantly.
Speaking of hopping in, just like the Tesla, the ID.4 doesn't require you to press the Stop/Start button to take off. The vehicle recognizes when you approach with the key, unlocks the doors, and goes as soon as you press the pedal – all you need to do is put it into gear. That also applies when exiting the vehicle – put the ID.4 in park, leave the car, and it shuts off automatically.
One problem with the ID.4 is how many touch-capacitive buttons there are in the cabin. In fact, there are no tactile buttons at all, unless you count the Park button on the gear shift knob. The lights, door locks, climate control – everything is touch-capacitive and extremely frustrating to use, especially while driving. The “buttons” below the screen for things like climate control and drive modes are especially annoying; they don't respond quickly and the white plastic feels especially chintzy.
Don't let its rear-wheel-drive layout fool you – the Volkswagen ID.4 is not sporty. Alternatives like the Mach-E and Model Y are way more fun to drive. But that's not to say that the ID.4 has bad on-road manners, either. This compact crossover is perfectly pleasant around town, with the 82.0-kilowatt-hour battery pack and a single electric motor giving the ID.4 a healthy 201 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque. That's enough power to propel to ID.4 to 60 in 6.5 seconds, which won't win you any drag races, but the instant torque from the electric motors provides more than enough grunt for spirited city driving.
The ID.4 has four drive modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Individual – plus a dedicated “B” mode for one-pedal drive activated by twisting the gear selector forward. Sport mode is the only option that feels noticeably different, improving pedal response and making the ID.4 feel a touch quicker off the line. Sport also adds regenerative braking whereas the other drive modes – even Eco – offer none in the normal “D” mode. If you drive in the one-pedal “B” mode, though, the ID.4 will recover 0.13 Gs of regen, but it won't come all the way to a stop.
The ID.4’s suspension is well sorted, absorbing quick movements with limited amounts of body roll and little histrionics in return. The steering is very lightweight, too, which makes maneuvering the ID.4 in the suburbs and around tight parking lots a total cinch. And that's about it. Whereas some EVs try hard to be sporty and fast, the ID.4 simply drives like a normal crossover.
The ID.4 comes standard with the company’s new IQ Drive active safety equipment. That setup includes adaptive cruise control with lane-keep assist and lane-centering, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, automatic high-beam headlights, and even road-sign recognition.
The ID.4 implements a front radar sensor, a front camera, and two rear radars, giving it Level 2 driving capabilities. You do need to keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road at all times, but by activating the Travel Assist function on the steering wheel, the ID.4 will stay centered in the lane and automatically brake all the way down to zero. The setup worked well in our test with some minor ping-ponging to note, but it was an otherwise flawless experience that’s missing only some minor features like automatic lane changes to make it competitive with Tesla’s Autopilot and Ford’s upcoming BlueCruise.
The ID.4 comes with a single rear motor and 82.0-kilowatt-hour battery pack – at least, for now. A dual-motor, all-wheel-drive version is on the way with up to 300 horsepower and improved range. In this case, though, the ID.4 1st Edition achieves a modest EPA-rated range of 250 miles, which is still better than what you get on the Kia Niro EV (239 miles). Unfortunately, that is down compared to the Chevrolet Bolt EUV (250 miles), Ford Mustang Mach-E (up to 305 miles), and Tesla Model Y (up to 326 miles).
On top of that, the Volkswagen doesn't make finding a place to plug in all that simple. Unlike the Mach-E and Model Y that have a one-click access menu to find local charging spots, it takes some digging in the ID.4’s infotainment system to find the nearest Electrify America or EVGo station. Once you do find a fast-charging station, though, the ID.4 has one of the better charge rates in the class. This car will go from zero to 80 percent range in an estimated 38 minutes on a Level 3 charger. I plugged in twice during the week at the nearest Electrify America and here's what my time charging the ID.4 looked like:
|Start Time:||1:13 PM||7:19|
|Start Charge:||34 Percent||34 Percent|
|Start Range:||93 Miles||89 Miles|
|End Charge:||100 Percent||85 Percent|
|End Range||256 Miles||214 Miles|
Charging the ID.4 was quick and mostly painless, apart from one of the four available Electrify America stations simply not working. But like a lot of EVs, predicting range based on elements such as drive type and conditions, VW’s listed range versus the actual miles driven was wildly inconsistent. The Mach-E and Model Y seem to be more consistent.
The base Volkswagen ID.4 costs $41,190 before the available $7,500 tax credit, which makes it one of the most affordable long-range EVs you can buy. The latest Chevrolet Bolt EUV is one of the few alternatives that is cheaper, asking $33,995 to start.
But the V-Dub undercuts alternatives like the Ford Mustang Mach-E, which starts at $43,995 and is also eligible for a $7,500 tax credit, and the Tesla Model Y, which costs $50,990 as of this writing and isn’t. The 1st Edition model tested here is slightly pricier, asking $45,190. And those of you looking to get your hands on the 1st Edition model are too late – this version is completely sold out.
ID.4 Competitor Reviews:
- Chevrolet Bolt EUV: Not Rated
- Ford Mustang Mach-E: 9.1/10
- Hyundai Kona EV: Not Rate
- Kia Niro EV: Not Rated
- Tesla Model Y: Not Rated
Gallery: 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 1st Edition: Review
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 1st Edition