VW ID.4 AWD — Here’s why ID.4 AWD Pro S better choice than Tesla’s Model Y


By Jim Prueter

(December 7, 2021) Previously we reviewed the all-new and all electric 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 powered by an 82kWh battery, producing 201-horsepower to a rear-wheel drive configuration with an EPA   estimated 250 miles of driving range. We came away overall impressed with the ID.4 that has a starting price of $39,995 for the base model with our tested price coming in at $45,190 for our upgraded Pro S model.

We’ve now had a chance to drive the all-wheel-drive Pro S ID.4 with a base price of $43,675. Our test ID.4 included the upgraded Gradient package with larger 20” alloy wheels, a black painted roof with silver roof rails and accents for an additional $1,500.

It’s worth mentioning that all-wheel drive in an electric vehicle doesn’t just mean that power goes to all four wheels it means that you get a second electric motor resulting in improved driving performance over the two-wheel drive, it’s also faster with 295-horsepower. However, that added horsepower reduces overall driving range by approximately 10 miles on a full charge. The big news, however, is that the ID.4 is the least expensive all-wheel-drive EV sold in America, some $10,000 less than the Tesla Model Y competitor.

Further, unlike the Model Y, the ID.4 qualifies for the $7,500 Federal tax credit for most buyers, making the ID.4 some $18,000 less than the Tesla. If that isn’t enough to convince you to buy the ID.4 it also comes with three full years of unlimited free DC fast charging on the Electrify America recharging network.

You may be wondering if the Model Y is a better vehicle than the ID.4 and in some ways the answer is yes. But you must remember the Tesla is some 50% more expensive when comparing base model to base model pricing with the ID.4 and is less expensive than the average new car in America.

The Tesla might get you a few more miles on driving range and depending on what you choose to haul it might have a bit more cargo room. But ID.4 is by far a better value and Volkswagen has an extensive dealership network with reliable service in all 50 states and Canada.

Size wise, the ID.4 is equivalent to the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 but doesn’t offer three rows of seating. But it does sit higher with just over 8 inches of ground clearance, among the best in its segment.

Inside, the AWD ID.4 interior is identical to the rear-wheel drive only model with its airy design and innovative digital display that replaces the traditional instrument cluster found in most vehicles. A small 5.3-inch ID Cockpit is attached to the steering column, so it’s always positioned ideally in line of the driver’s sight. It moves up and down, back and forth when adjusting the steering wheel position. It displays driver information such as speed, posted speed limit, gear selected and remaining battery range.

There’s also the gearshift that’s operated via stalk switch that you twist and is mounted on the right side of the steering column. Our test vehicle came equipped with the optional panoramic fixed-glass roof that stretches across almost the entire surface of the roof giving a spacious look and feel to the already roomy interior. An electric sunshade helps prevent the interior from heating up on sunny days and can be controlled via a touch slider above the driver or through the infotainment screen.

For those who prefer, there’s redundant infotainment controls on the steering wheel, and sliders under the touchscreen. There are also slider touch-sensitive capacitive buttons directly the infotainment for climate control. One other quirky feature is the power window operation. There are only two buttons to operate four windows. To move the rear door windows up and down you must first select the rear window switch on the driver’s door and once lit the button divert and open and close the rear windows. Gimmicky to be sure, but we quickly got used to it and worked just fine.

There’s no system start/stop — pushbutton, key or otherwise. Rather the vehicle wakes up when you sit in the drivers’s seat making you wonder if you turned the car off the last time, you parked and exited. The only reassuring indication is the “goodbye” displayed on the touchscreen when you open the driver’s door.

On the road, the ride is buttery smooth, yet firm enough to handle potholes and backroads. Road and wind noise are all but eliminated, the cabin library quiet. Handling is confident, predictable with a tight turning circle radius making parking a breeze. 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of just under 7 seconds, a bit quicker that the front-wheel drive only model.

The ID.4 comes loaded with standard advanced safety and driver-assist features mostly bundled in Volkswagens IQ.Drive system. These include forward-collision warning with auto emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, a lane-keeping system, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, and active blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring system that can intervene if the driver doesn’t to avoid an unsafe lane change or back-up collision.

Standard Travel Assist combines lane-centering and adaptive cruise control for reduced driver stress on well-marked highways. Also standard is Emergency Assist which, in the event a driver is incapacitated, can safely bring the ID.4 to a stop.

Other standard ID.4 driver-assistive systems include a 360-degree overhead backup camera, automatic high-beam control, a dynamic road-sign display, and front and rear park distance warning.

The blind-spot system in the ID.4 is one of the best in the industry. Instead of the small, fingernail-size warning lamp in the side mirrors as in most other carmaker’s systems, the ID.4’s warning lamp is a much-larger, USB-stick-size bright orange warning lamp on the inboard side of the side mirror housings that gets one’s attention in a hurry.

The ID.4 AWD SUV is every bit as impressive as its rear-wheel-drive only counterpart, but we think the AWD dynamics only improve with its additional electric motor to the vehicle. But know there isn’t much off-road capability for AWD either. That said, we feel most buyers will be equally pleased with their choice of the two.

If you’re smitten by the hype of the Tesla brand, we strongly recommend you test drive the ID.4 and do your homework before you buy. Given its shockingly lower ID.4 price advantage, dealership service network and questionable build quality and reliability issues with the Tesla Model Y with its tiny, small rear window, and a glass roof that tends to cook the interior, (especially in places like Arizona where I reside), we recommend the ID.4 as a better choice.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $43,675 (Before Federal tax credits)
Price as Tested: $45,190
Engine-Transmission: 82 kWh battery all-electric two motor setup front and rear motors with a combined 295-horsepower for all-wheel-drive and 339 lb.-ft of torque, a single speed automatic transmission with a driving range between 249-240 miles.
EPA Fuel Economy: 98/88/93 MPGe – City/Highway/Combined
Seating: Five

Crash Test Safety Rating: Highest possible overall 5-star crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and highest possible 2021 Top Safety pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Where Built: Chattanooga, Tennessee

Competes With:
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Nissan Ariya
Tesla Model Y

Fab Features:
Roomy interior for people and gear
Excellent ride, handling and driving dynamics
Loaded with standard safety and convenience features