By Andy Bornhop
295-horsepower all-wheel-drive model with dual motor
Three years of free recharging (with Electrify America)
2,700-pound towing capacity
Excellent safety suite
Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
No front trunk in the rear-drive model
It’s heavy (between 4,500 and 4,600 pounds)
No spare tire (has sealant and an inflator)
No volume knob for stereo
All-new compact electric vehicle
Powered by a rear-mounted electric motor with 201 horsepower and 228 lb-ft of torque
AWD model has 295 horsepower
VW /zigman2/quotes/204431732/delayed VWAGY -0.09% is serious about going electric. The German company has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050, and the new ID.4 is the first of several dedicated VW EVs to come to the U.S. Yes, we’ve already seen the electric Golf, but that was based on an existing chassis. The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is based on the company’s modular new electric vehicle chassis, which allows for two different powertrain configurations – rear-motor/rear-drive or dual-motor/all-wheel drive.
This 5-seat electric SUV initially is being sold as a rear-motor/rear-driver with 201 horsepower and 228 lb-ft of torque and a range of 250 miles. Its all-wheel-drive brother, the ID.4 AWD, puts out a total of 295 horsepower, powered by front and rear motors.
In basic description, the ID.4 is a 5-seat SUV that’s slightly smaller than the Tiguan. Its 82-kW lithium-ion battery pack, with 288 pouch-style cells, is located in the floor of the chassis, protected by a rigid case made of extruded aluminum.
Even though the first ID.4 lacks a front motor, there’s no front trunk, as in the Ford /zigman2/quotes/208911460/composite F -2.01% Mustang Mach E. Evidently, there’s enough EV hardware up there to preclude such a convenience.
That stated, the new ID.4 does have ample interior room, with enough space for four 6-footers to ride comfortably in the vehicle, with plenty of legroom and headroom. There’s also a generous 33 cubic feet of space behind the 3-seat rear bench.
The ID.4 instrument panel, as you might expect of a modern EV, is digital, and the center screen for navigation and infotainment is 10 or 12 inches across, depending on the model. While it appears simple to use and well arranged, we bemoan the lack of traditional knobs for stereo volume and a/c temperature. In its defense, VW says that the new ID.4, in addition to its touch controls on the steering wheel and screen, has excellent voice controls (Say, “Hello, ID” and it will respond) and gesture control, which allows you to swipe your hand in front of the screen (without touching it) to accomplish a variety of tasks.
While Volkswagen could have built a teardrop-shaped EV with a lightweight aluminum chassis and extraordinary range, it has chosen instead to build an electric version of a compact SUV, a hot segment that continues to grow. As such, VW says the steel-chassis ID.4 has the potential to do more good for the planet, which is very much in line with the company’s new eco-conscious thinking.
EVs such as the Tesla /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA -1.25% Model Y and the Kia /zigman2/quotes/206019389/delayed KR:000270 -3.16% Niro EV are natural competitors for the ID.4, but VW says its significant new electric SUV will do the most good if it gets the masses out of internal-combustion compact SUVs like the Honda /zigman2/quotes/207173990/composite HMC +0.98% CR-V and Toyota /zigman2/quotes/200537742/composite TM -0.35% RAV4. While those two big sellers are a bit less expensive than the $39,995 ID.4, the VW, with its $7,500 federal tax incentive, gets more price competitive with these hot sellers.
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 pricing
The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $39,995, plus a destination fee of $1,195. If you order your ID.4 with the optional Statement Package (leatherette upholstery, power front seats, a power tailgate, and a panoramic sunroof), add $4,500.
There’s also an available Gradient Package. For $1,500, it includes 20-inch alloy wheels and 2-tone exterior paint with a black roof.
VW has already sold out of the ID.4 1st Edition. A rear-wheel-drive model with an MSRP of $43,995, the ID.4 1st Edition has white exterior and interior accents, special badging, contrast mirror caps, and a tow hitch. The 1st Edition, limited to a few thousand models, also has fun pedal covers – the one for the brakes has a “pause” button, while the one for the accelerator has a “play” button. Just like the remote for your TV.
The ID.4 AWD Pro model, fitted with dual motors, a heated windshield, and a tow hitch, has an MSRP of $43,675, which is lower than any other AWD BEV on sale today.
VW plans to be a carbon-neutral company by 2050, so it wants this new ID.4 to get buyers out of internal-combustion vehicles and into EVs, specifically popular compact SUVs like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Yes, the ID.4’s MSRP of $39,995 certainly is a bit steeper than that, but remember that this electric VW qualifies for a federal tax credit of $7,500, which brings the price down to a much more competitive $32,495 (right in line with the Tiguan SEL). The ID.4 AWD starts at $43,675.
Electric SUV competitors include the Tesla Model Y and the Kia Niro EV. You might also consider the all-electric Ford Mustang Mach E. On the significantly higher-end (and costing more than twice as much) are the Jaguar i-Pace and Audi e-tron, priced closer to the low- and high-$70,000 marks, respectively.
Volkswagen will sell the ID.4 electric vehicle in all 50 states, and a dedicated reservations platform on VW.com allows customers to reserve one of the new electric SUVs with a fully refundable $100 reservation fee. Later on, as vehicle production starts, reservation holders can confirm their order with an additional $400 vehicle deposit, which allows them to track their ID.4 through production and to delivery at their preferred local VW dealer.
Right now, the ID.4 is manufactured in Zwickau, Germany. In 2022, the production of the VW ID.4 will begin in Chattanooga. VW says the U.S.-built ID.4 will have a slightly lower MSRP of around $35,000, bringing it even closer to the RAV4 and CR-V in price.
Which model is right for me?
2021 Volkswagen ID.4
19-inch alloy wheelsHeated seats, steering wheelNavigationWireless phone chargerWireless Apple /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL -1.14% CarPlay/Android auto
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Statement Package
Leatherette upholstery12-way power front seatsPower tailgateAmbient interior lighting
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Gradient Package
20-inch alloy wheelsTwo-tone exterior paint with black roof
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 1st Edition
White exterior and interior accentsContrasting mirror caps“Play” and “Pause” pedalsTow hitch1st Edition badging
Driving the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4
Dip into the throttle, and the ID.4 pulls away smoothly with the futuristic whine of a modern electric vehicle. Like most electric vehicles, the ID.4 is very quiet. VW says they have spent quite a bit of effort on that mission and expanded their use of sound deadening countermeasures. And that makes for a serene driving experience. One only needs to open the door to hear the outside world and then quickly close it again to hear just how well VW has done that job.
Once underway, there are several drive modes to choose from—Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Custom. The ID.4’s standard regenerative brake calibration feels more like coasting when you lift the throttle. So, for the buyer switching from a gas engine car, that experience should feel very similar. Want a bit more regen? Move the gear selector from “D” to “B”. This provides quite a bit of drag to help slow the car down and allows the driver to use just the throttle pedal for most driving situations.
Sport delivers a sharper throttle and steering with more weight and precision. Sport mode also engages the car’s more aggressive regen calibration. It allows for the same one-pedal driving as “B” drive mode. The ID.4’s brakes can take some getting used to. The pedal is long before it engages the meat of the brakes to slow the car. It’s unusual at first. But after about 30 minutes of driving, we became more accustomed to it.
The ID.4’s acceleration is swift. But this car is no Tesla eater. The 1st Editions have a 201 horsepower electric motor driving the rear wheels. This summer, a 302 horsepower all-wheel-drive model with front and rear motors will arrive to bring VW a little bit closer to Tesla territory.
Eco mode changes the car’s behavior too. The throttle is less aggressive, the steering is lighter, and VW says it limits the power output slightly to increase range. That last one was difficult to discern. And the Eco mode itself was our favorite, and best fits the car’s mission.
VW has done a great job balancing the ride and handling of the ID.4. On the worst potholes we could find, our 20-inch tire shod test car rode smoothly. And on the twisty backroads, the ID.4 felt nimble and cornered flatly.
Partly thanks to the second motor that drives its front axle, the ID.4 AWD is a delight on the road. Despite its hefty weight, the all-wheel-drive version of the ID.4 handles surprisingly well on twisty 2-lanes. Its 295 horsepower and 339 lb-ft of torque provide strong acceleration for zipping past slower traffic when safe passing lanes arrive. VW says it will accelerate from rest to 60 mph in a quick 5.4 seconds, yet it can run up to 249 miles on its 82-kWh battery. Among our few complaints: no 12V accessory plug anywhere in the cabin for those of us who still run dash-top driving aids.
VW says the ID.4 interior is designed to be minimalist, but with high technology at its core. Indeed, the dashboard looks pleasingly uncrowded, in part because so many of the switches and controls are handled by the buttons on the steering wheel or the large central touchscreen.
What’s more, the quality of materials is excellent, and the overall aesthetic is modern without being too far out in the future.
While all versions of the ID.4 get a digital gauge package (in a pod that adjusts up and down with the steering wheel), two different central touchscreens are available. Base cars get a 10-inch version, while the 1st Edition that KBB looked at has a 12-inch screen within easy reach of the driver.
The drive selector is noteworthy. It’s a rotating knob on the end of an arm extending from the right side of the instrument binnacle. Located at about 2 o’clock on the steering wheel, the knob is rotated forward (clockwise) to engage Drive, or rearward (counterclockwise) to put the new ID.4 in reverse.
By having the gear selector high and near the driver’s right hand, the ID.4’s center console is freed up to have a large storage well with a sliding cover to help you keep valuables out of sight. The ID.4 also has a handy pass-through lower storage area in front for other knickknacks.
With the rear seat in use, the ID.4 has 33 cubic feet of space in the back. With the rear seat folded, that volume increases to 64 cubic feet. The 2-row Tiguan, by comparison, has 37.5 cubic feet behind its rear bench, and 73.5 cubic feet with it folded. The ID.4 also benefits from a 2-level cargo floor, which conceals a storage well for the onboard charger.
Legroom and headroom are generous front and rear. We’re happy to report that the fixed-glass panoramic roof, with a power-retractable sunshade, does not reduce ID.4 headroom. In fact, VW says the glass roof ID.4 has a bit more headroom than the standard ID.4.
Also see: Do electric cars cost more to insure?
We think the new Volkswagen ID.4 has an attractive look that we’d characterize as more modern and urban than rugged and outdoorsy. However you feel, it’s sleek. VW says it has a slippery drag coefficient of 0.28, and multiple little details around the tapered rear of the ID.4 reveal this keen attention to aerodynamics.
In front, there’s no grille, just a prominent new central VW logo that is illuminated on upmarket models. Two side vents integrated into the ID.4’s front bumper are for a pair of air curtains that direct air smoothly around the front tires, while the lower grilled section of the front end allows air in to cool the ID.4’s battery pack.
If you order the Statement Package, it comes with LED projector headlights that swivel into corners for an improved view of the turn.
Viewed from the side, the ID.4 has a beltline that dips slightly, reminding us a bit of the Nissan /zigman2/quotes/207656007/delayed NSANY +0.57% Murano. We further like how the greenhouse tapers inwards as it travels rearward, aiding both aerodynamics and aesthetics. The 20-inch alloy wheels on the 1st Edition model manage to properly fill out the wheel wells without looking too large.
Gradient Package models are distinguished by a black roof with silver rails and accents.
Free fast recharging For the first three years of ownership, VW provides ID.4 owners with free fast recharging via the Electrify America network. VW says there are 2,556 recharging stations across the US, with 5,484 available stalls.
ID. Light This light strip beneath the ID.4’s windshield glows and illuminates in different ways to share various bits of information about the new fully electric VW. For instance, it will glow to show you that the ID.4’s drive system is active, and it will even display which way the nav system wants you to turn at the next instruction. The ID. Light light strip also can be used to graphically show the battery’s state of charge.
The standard 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 has heated seats, a heated steering wheel, heated washer nozzles, rain-sensing wipers, a navigation system, 19-inch alloy wheels, a wireless smartphone charger, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and the 10-inch central touchscreen.
If you opt for an ID.4 with the Statement Package, it includes 12-way power front seats with leatherette upholstery, a panoramic fixed glass roof, Sirius XM satellite radio, a power tailgate, the larger 12-inch central touchscreen, and 30 colors of ambient interior lighting.
The Gradient Package includes everything mentioned above but adds 20-inch alloy wheels and 2-tone exterior paint with a black roof.
All ID.4s also feature the IQ. Drive suite of driver-assists and safety technology, plus ID. Light. With ID. Light, an active light strip below the windshield conveys info to the driver via lighting effects in different colors and sound prompts. ID. Light can let the driver know when the vehicle’s drive system is active, or when the vehicle has been unlocked or locked. It also helps with navigational instructions, incoming phone calls, and emergency braking prompts while also serving as a charge indicator for the battery.
Currently, options on the 2021 VW ID.4 are limited to the items included in the Statement and Gradient packages, the contents of which are shared above.
Battery power, charge times, and range
The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is an electric SUV with a rear-mounted electric motor that drives the back wheels while drawing electricity from an 82-kWh battery pack mounted low in the floorboard of the vehicle. The motor puts out 201 horsepower and 228 lb-ft of torque.
This rear-drive ID.4 is rated by the EPA at 104 MPGe in the city, 89 MPGe on the highway, and 97 MPGe combined. Range is 250 miles.
The ID.4 Pro rear-wheel-drive model has an EPA-estimated 260 miles of range on a full charge. EPA estimates have it pegged at 107 MPGe in the city, 91 MPGe on the highway, and 99 MPGe combined.
At a public DC fast-charging station with 125 kW charging, the ID.4 can go from 5 to 80 percent charged in about 40 minutes. ID.4 owners get three years of unlimited charging at Electrify America DC Fast Chargers at no additional cost.
The 2021 ID.4 is on sale now, with pricing for the rear-wheel-drive ID.4 Pro starting at $39,995, before a potential Federal tax credit of up to $7,500. The Pro S carries an MSRP of $44,495. The limited-run ID.4 1 Edition, which sold out the day the vehicle was launched, carried an MSRP of $43,995.
Later on, the AWD VW ID.4 arrives. It has the same rear motor and battery pack, but it adds a front motor with 101 horsepower. Total horsepower output for the upcoming AWD ID.4 model is 295.
While the top range of the rear-drive ID.4 is 260 miles, the range of the AWD ID.4 model has been estimated by the EPA at 249 miles.
The 82-kWh battery, protected by a rigid aluminum case in the floorboard, features 288 individual pouch cells in 12 modules. LG /zigman2/quotes/206973806/delayed KR:003550 -2.87% of South Korea supplies the cells, but the Chattanooga-built ID.4s will be equipped with battery cells from SK /zigman2/quotes/200096330/delayed KR:034730 -2.40% , another Korean firm.
Permanent-magnet electric motor82-kWh lithium-ion battery pack201 horsepower228 lb-ft of torqueRange: 250 miles (260 miles, ID.4 Pro)
Two permanent-magnet electric motors (one front, one rear)82-kWh lithium-ion battery pack295 horsepowerest 350 lb-ft of torqueRange: estimated at 249 miles