Volkswagen ID.4 — Mainstream EV photo

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(July 25, 2021) Volkswagen's first built-from-the-ground-up all-electric car to reach North America is the mainstream affordable ID.4 crossover, direct competition to the Nissan Leaf, which has owned the most affordable market since 2011, and the Chevrolet Bolt, which joined the ranks in 2017.


The Volkswagen ID.4 stormed into the picture for the 2021 model year and we rate it a solid offering in the growing segment — that also includes offerings from Hyundai and Kia — with a starting price of $41,190 and a range of a very competitive 250 miles — and with the $7,500 government tax rebate available to significantly reduce the cost.

The ID.4 is extremely important to Volkswagen's goal of rolling out a full lineup of electric vehicles in the near future. Its range and attractive styling should serve it well. To help people bridge the
gap between some of the futuristic styling exercises of other EVs, Volkswagen has penned the ID.4 to look much like the gas-powered crossover you are now driving. In other words, buyers would not have to make a big leap into the unknown future coming out of their VW Tiguan and into their new ID.4. photo

As many VW Golf owners know, the ID.4 is actually not the first all-electric Volkswagen sold in the U.S. The eGolf was introduced in 2014 with a range of 83 miles and was sold until the summer of 2020 when production was stopped as the new class of ID full-electric crossovers started coming to market. In seven years, VW sold 145,561 eGolfs worldwide. In 2017, VW increased the range of the eGolf to 125 miles and horsepower to 134 making it a viable alternative to the Leaf. More than 20,000 eGolfs were sold in the U.S.

Here's a quick overview of the ID.4:

• It is smaller than VW's best-selling Tiguan — 4.6 inches shorter with a 1.9-inch shorter wheelbase — but with commensurate passenger and cargo space.

• It features an 82-kWh battery pack and an 150-kw electric motor that makes 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. At the outset it comes only in rear-wheel drive, but dual-motor all-wheel drive is expected to be added this summer, and a 302-horsepower version is on the horizon.  

• For now, the ID.4 is sold in three trim levels — Pro, Pro S and 1st Edition. It can be charged up in about eight hours from 240V home plug. VW says a fast charger will take the battery from 5 to 80 percent charge in 38 minutes.

The ID.4 carries a hint of a grille that includes a large VW logo — attractively lighting up at night  between the headlights. There's a traditional liftgate in back for SUV utility. A big spoiler, 3D-shaped taillight cluster, flush mounted door handles, and large 19-inch wheels round out a very pleasing look.

We found that the ID'4's driving demeanor mimics a compact family crossover with decent handling attributes, but not as agile as a lot of traditional hatchbacks. When most people purchase a crossover, they want an easy-to-drive car with a pleasant ride that will safely take them and their families from point A to point B and back without drama or complaint. The ID.4 delivers in spades. We think Volkswagen's goal was to provide an EV that offers the same experience as mainstream gas-powered vehicles including its Tiguan and new sub-compact Taos.

For comparison purposes, the ID.4 has been recorded from 0-to-60 in 7.6 seconds with a quarter-mile time of 16 seconds @ 86 mph. Decent times that you would expect from a gas-powered vehicle of the same size.

The most disappointing aspect of the ID.4 is the user interface. We're not fans of VW's latest infotainment software, which is overly reliant on the touchscreen and doesn't provide enough physical controls for things you want quick access to such as radio tuning and climate controls. There are touch-sensitive sliders for the climate controls, sunshade, and volume adjustment, and haptic buttons for various menus. Why don't carmakers at least attempt to make all controls easy to use so that the driver can keep his or her eyes on the road and their concentration 100 percent on the driving?

Even the few physical controls are a bit strange. There are only two window controls on the driver's door panel, and you must press a finicky haptic switch to activate the rear windows. And the real head-scratcher is the bright white steering wheel that looks great now, but after months of use will surely lose its "clean" look.

There is a lot of standard equipment including navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a 5.3-inch reconfigurable digital gauge display, dual-zone climate control, leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, and wireless smartphone charging.

The range of standard safety is impressive and includes lane keeping assist, forward collision mitigation, blindspot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, driver attention warning, and parking sensors.

The ID.4 has ample passenger and cargo space. The interior is airy and spacious not only for front-seat passengers, but rear-seaters as well. There's ample legroom and headroom in back, and luggage space measures a respectable 30.3 cubic feet, and cargo room with seatbacks folded expands to 64.2 cubic feet. While most electric vehicles have front storage, known as a frunk, the ID.4 uses that space for a variety of equipment.

The ID.4's starting price of $41,190 climbs to $44,870 for the Pro S trim and to $45,190 for the 1st Edition, which is sold out. Our 1st Edition test car came without options and a bottom line of $45,190.

A footnote — Buyers can benefit from three years of free charging from Volkswagen's North American subsidiary, Electrify America.

The Volkswagen ID.4 is not for people who want to proclaim that they are trendy green, but rather, for those who just want an all-around well thought out vehicle for the chores of daily family life.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4


Base price: $41,190; as driven, $45,190
Motor: Electric
Horsepower: 201
Torque: 229 pound-feet
Battery pack: lithium-ion 82.0 kWh
Transmission: 1-speed direct drive
Drive: rear wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 108.9 inches
Length: 180.5 inches
Curb weight: 4,665 pounds
Turning circle: 33.6 feet
Towing capacity: 2,200 pounds
Luggage capacity: 30.3 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 64.2 cubic feet
Range: 250 miles
EPA rating: 104 MPGe city, 89 highway, 97 combined
0-60: 7.6 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Bolt, Kia Niro EV

The Good
• Decent driving range
• Roomy cabin
• Smooth ride
• Good range of safety equipment

The Bad
• Some controls difficult to operate

The Ugly
• How long will white steering wheel stay white?