Today I bring you the much-anticipated VW ID.4 First Edition all-electric SUV. This is a new page in the history books for Volkswagen, and the beginning of what the automaker hopes is an electric revolution. They have a lofty goal of having nothing but electric vehicles available by mid-2025. Whether this is voluntary or a consent agreement with the U.S. Government after Dieselgate, we’ll probably never know. Either way, the future starts now.
VW was smart to start out with an entry into the hottest segment in America, the midsized crossover SUV segment. Unlike many all-electric vehicles, the ID.4 is stylish and does not have the blunt-nosed flat grill that is sported by most EVs. 20” machined aluminum wheels look great, as do the offset painted roof, and a large rear spoiler. Flush door handles cut down on wind resistance. In fact, this is the least electric-looking vehicle I have seen to date.
ID.4 comes in three trim levels: The base model is the Pro, the middle trim is the First Edition, which is what I have this week, and the top-of-the-line is the Pro S. The First Edition model sold out quickly for the entire 2021 model year. Also, note that everything I write about with this vehicle is standard equipment, there is not a single option that costs extra.
Powering the ID.4 is a 82 kWh lithium-ion battery pack stored below the floorboard of the SUV, center the vehicle, which gives it good stability. Since my tester is the rear-wheel drive version, the juice goes to an electric motor that powers the rear wheels.
An all-wheel drive version will be out later that will add another electric motor to the front wheels, and hopefully add even more horses.
As it stands, this rear-wheel version puts out 201-horses and has 229-pound feet of torque. It has a one-speed automatic transmission that is seamless, and you have maximum acceleration available at all times. An unexpected surprise is that the ID.4 will tow 2700-pounds, but obviously that would cut down on your battery range. Top speed is electronically limited to 100-miles per hour.
You can choose from four different drive modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport, and a custom setting that allows drivers to pick and choose from the other modes to best suit their own style. I really love the Sport mode, but you see a much quicker drop in range than on Eco, so that is where I’ve stayed most of the week.
As you open the driver’s door to enter, you see a very futuristic cabin. I admit it was a bit shocking to see white seats, white door panels and armrests, and a solid white flat-bottomed steering wheel with controls. Yet, it works with this SUV, very well in fact. The rational side of me says that after a lot of use, all this white will get dirty, but Meguiars makes products for this. There is more hard plastic than I prefer, but costs have to be cut somewhere.
As you sit behind the steering wheel, you see a 5.3” digital display mounted right on top of the wheel, also in white. It features the pertinent info you need like your speed, the speed limit where you are, the battery range, and what gear you are in.
It also has a lane-keeping monitor to show you where you are in your lane and how far a car is ahead of you when using the adaptive cruise control.
To the top right of the steering wheel is a square gearshift knob. A twist toward the front of the SUV is drive mode, a second twist to the front engages the regenerative braking to recharge the batteries and it serves as a one-pedal function. In regen mode, the car starts to stop itself as soon as you let off the accelerator pedal, sending power to the batteries through friction.
Two of the coolest things I’ve seen on any vehicle are: first, if the key is in your pocket or purse, you don’t have to hit any start button, although there is one on the side of the steering column. Sit down and everything comes to life. As soon as you move the shift knob, the vehicle springs into action. Push the button on the end for park. As you exit the vehicle, the ID.4 turns itself off again, no hitting a button and it warmly tells you goodbye.
The second cool thing is on the brake and gas pedal, which are aluminum, there are the International symbols for stop and go. Think like watching an Internet video. The brake pedal has two vertical lines (stop), and the gas pedal has an arrow to the right (play). Don’t ask why this is so amusing to me, but it is.
The center console has a sliding door for hiding things and there is a wireless charger in there, there are USB ports, and two cup holders that are removable for even more storage.
High on the dash is 12” touchscreen (also in white) that operates everything the ID.4 offers. There are large buttons on the screen to activate the sound system, Bluetooth, navigation, vehicle settings, ambient lighting, and more. You can also activate Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, among other things. If you listen to AM radio, you better hope your favorite station has an FM HD alternative, because there is no AM band on the ID.4, but there is HD and Sirius/XM. If needed, the nav system will direct you to the nearest charging station.
The screen takes some getting used to, but there are buttons underneath that serve as shortcuts. The system isn’t as quick as I expected on a state-of-the-art vehicle like this one, but I suspect more practice time would be helpful.
Both the front leatherette seats are comfortable and have fold down armrests, and both seats are power with lumbar support. The driver and passenger can enjoy a light massage if he or she wishes. A look toward the sky and you see a panoramic moon roof, with a power sliding cover.
Moving to the back seat, there is a good amount of leg and head room. Back seat occupants get USB ports, rear air vents, a fold down armrest with cup holders, rear seat map pockets, and a handy-dandy place to store your cell phone just under the front seat headrests.
Moving to the cargo area, there is an electric tailgate and a cargo area that offers up 30.3-cubic feet of storage, and if you fold the back seats down, you get over 60-cubic feet of storage. There are hidden storage areas underneath the load floor, one to hide valuables, and another down lower for your charging cord.
On the safety front, you get parking sensors front and rear, a fantastic rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert with emergency braking, pedestrian monitoring, lane-keep assist, and blind spot warning. One note on the lane-keeping system: While it does keep you in the lane, it’s very reactive and a bit jerky. I got in the habit of turning it off, rather than fight it.
Ride and Drive
The ID.4 drives surprisingly well, the acceleration is much better than the specs suggest, and you get a little bit of artificial engine sound just to spice things up. Handling is really good with no roll in corners, and the steering feedback hits me as just right. I would describe the I.D. 4 as a very comfortable SUV. It feels bigger inside than its nearest gasoline competitors. The visibility is exceptional, and the front passenger compartment looks like it could have been designed by the Jetsons. EPA ratings are 104 MPGe (MPG equivalent) city, 89 MPGe highway, and 97 MPGe overall. VW supplies you with 3-years of free charging when you are on the road, or you can plug into your 110-plug with the charger provided. The smart thing to do is get a level II, 125 kW charger in your garage. That will give you 60 miles of range in 10 minutes, or you can reach the full 250-mile range in under five hours.
The only irritant I found is the charging port is on the right rear of the ID.4. Every other electric or plug-in hybrid has had it on the left front. With the 110-outlet at home, I can’t get close enough to the power without backing in. If you park on the left side of your garage, you’d have to drape the charger line over or around the car. This is not a deal killer for me by any stretch, but in my humble opinion, should have been better thought through.
What You’ll Pay
Total MSRP with transportation on my test SUV is $45,190, but remember there is a $7500 Federal Tax Credit, and many states offer additional incentives for switching to electric. Even without the incentives, I think for what you get, this is a really good value AND you’ll never visit a gas station again with the ID.4.
In summary, color me impressed. If this is the kind of vehicles we can look forward to in the future from VW, I can’t wait until they come out with more like this.
A NOTE ON RANGE AND CHARGING
I’ve reviewed many electric vehicles over the past decade. Until now, I could not spend an entire week with one. I have a 40-mile roundtrip commute to my office and the range would drop quicker than the actual miles driven. I could only gain about half the range back plugging into a 110-volt to charge overnight. So, every day, the range got less to the point I had to park the vehicle after a few days, or I could not get back to my office.
The ID.4 experience was very different. The range dropped slower than the actual miles driven. Using the regenerative braking, I actually gained range many times.
While I did stay in Eco mode most of the week, I drove normally to get a true feel for the battery performance. There were prolonged stretches of 80-mile per hour driving on the freeways, and yet the range stayed high. One afternoon I got home and the range was down to 210-miles. I plugged into the regular wall outlet and the next morning, some 10 hours later, the range had gone up to 260 miles. Every evening I plugged in got me to a completely full charge.
On one day that I kept very close calculations, I drove 22 actual miles and only used 14 miles of range. On another, I drove 28 miles and only used 24 miles of range. This was a very warm day and the air conditioning was running non-stop.
Bottom line, this is the first EV that would work for my lifestyle, even without a Level II charger and that is very refreshing.
Finally, many have asked me to compare the ID.4 to the Mustang Mach-E I reviewed, and frankly, they are very different. The Ford is lightning fast and has the handling and driving dynamics of a Mustang, but I got nowhere near the range of the VW. Both are great, you just have to pick what is most important to you: Performance or range.
2021 VW ID.4 All-Electric SUV
- What I liked most: The interior, the handling, and the performance.
- What I would change: The charging port to the left front.
- MSRP: Base price $43,995 as equipped $45,190 with transportation.
- Fuel Economy: MPG Equivalent: 104 city/89 Highway/97 Combined.
- Official Color: Glacier White with Black roof.
- Odometer reading when tested: 510 miles.
- Weight: 4,559 pounds.
- Spare Tire: N/A
- Length-Width-Height: 180.5” long/72.9” wide/64.4” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: N/A.
- Towing Capacity: 2,700 pounds
- 2021 ID.4 in a few words: The future is here today with the ID.4 SUV. Standing-O to VW bringing this SUV to the market.
- Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 8-year/100,000 mile battery warranty with roadside assistance, and 3-years/36,000 miles of free maintenance.
- Final Assembly Location: Mosel, Germany
- Manufacturers website: www.VW.com.
Video Credit: Volkswagen