2021 Volkswagen ID.4

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2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Senior Editor
September 22, 2021

Buying tip

Consider leasing. VW has targeted $379 a month as a starting point, and state incentives plus other discounts from the automaker are likely to make it even more attractive in the future.

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 gives families the right formula for saying farewell to tailpipe emissions, but the cabin tech could use some smoothing over.

What kind of vehicle is the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4? What does it compare to?

The 2021 VW ID.4 is a fully electric compact crossover with space for up to five and a range of up to 250 miles. The ID.4 compares to the Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E, but it’s priced lower to compete with bestselling compact crossovers such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Subaru Forester. 

Is the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 a good car?

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Provided you’re not already part of the Tesla ecosystem or too picky about the interface, the answer is yes. The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 offers a refreshing design supplemented by innovative lighting, a comfortable, surprisingly spacious interior, a solid set of active-safety features, and enough driving range—plus support from VW—to make weekend road trips viable. The ID.4 earns a TCC Rating of 7.0 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4?

Everything. You won’t find a gasoline-fueled ID.4; it’s the first of a generation of mass-market battery electric models created as a direct result of the Volkswagen diesel scandal, built on a platform conceived for millions of affordable EVs that will also turn a profit for the German automaker as it pivots away from gas and diesel.

Everything from the trim and wheels to the door handles and switchgear represent a new, clean-slate approach, and the cabin is bathed in multi-color ambient light. Yes, you can turn it off. 

As gimmicky as the ID.4 might seem if the interface is your first introduction, it’s down to business when it comes to space and comfort. The ID.4 is just slightly shorter in length and height than the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, yet inside it can feel more spacious. The front seats offer lots of long-legged comfort, and two adults can get comfortable in back. Sightlines are good, storage is plentiful, and the low cargo floor offers 30.3 cubic feet of space with the rear seatback up or 64.2 cubic feet with it flipped down. Ride comfort is good, and isolation from the road noise you tend to notice more in EVs is superb. 

You won’t find the cliched electric-car “frunk” (front trunk) here; VW says that packing some components under the hood helps add to the feeling of spaciousness inside the cabin. 

One EV cliche lacking here is “instant torque.” The ID.4 is quick and quiet, but by no means shocking in its acceleration. It makes up for that with excellent steering and handling, with a sense of balance and poise that’s above and beyond what you’ll find in gasoline crossovers this size. 

Initial crash testing is promising, with the IIHS bestowing a Top Safety Pick+ designation on the ID.4 for withstanding and mitigating crashes with its standard automatic emergency braking. 

Top features for the Pro S and 1st Edition include a panoramic glass roof, power tailgate, power front seats, power mirrors, and a larger 12.0-inch infotainment touchscreen. 

How much does the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 cost?

The 2021 VW ID.4 starts at $45,190 for the 1st Edition model that goes on sale first. The Pro S model, which mostly parallels the equipment in the 1st Edition, starts at $45,690, but adds up to $47,190 with the Gradient package (larger 20-inch wheels, black roof, silver accents). A base Pro model will arrive late in the model year, starting at $41,190. All-wheel-drive versions of either model will cost $3,680 extra and won’t be available until later in the calendar year. 

VW notes that the $7,500 federal EV tax credit will apply for many buyers, as will some state incentives. That lowers the effective starting price to $33,690. 

Where is the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 made?

Zwickau, Germany.

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2021 Volkswagen ID.4

Styling

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is smooth and well-proportioned on the outside, while lighting is the star inside.

Is the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 a good-looking car?

The ID.4 is good looking, in a ubiquitous way, but not by any means emblematic of what a radical step in VW’s evolution it represents. That’ll come later, with the electric revival of the Microbus, signaled by the ID Buzz concept and expected in two years. The ID.4 is well shaped and styled by avoiding the homely proportions that often accompany crossovers its size. The good-looking exterior, shaped around a space-first philosophy, earns a 6 out of 10. 

There’s more curvaceousness in the sheet metal than in other VW SUVs, plus a bit of ruggedness signaled in the rubberized cladding around the wheels and throughout the lower body, although the ID.4 is meant for suburban streets, not off-road trails. The shape of the headlights, grille, and taillights are about the only points of continuity throughout the entire vehicle—other than the big VW logos placed throughout—that identify it as the brand from Wolfsburg. 

Inside, the ID.4 follows a design that prioritizes the interface and touch points and otherwise gets out of the way. Different than the design of any other current VW models, the ID.4 has a low-set dash, with a thin beltline spanning vents and a 12.0-inch touchscreen, with a strip of capacitive “buttons” below. A 5.3-inch ID Cockpit gauge cluster is essentially another screen (non-touch) that moves with the steering wheel, which itself gets a set of capacitive-and-click controls. Everything keeps to a low beltline except the two screens, and door trim includes chunky handles with recessed ambient lighting 

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2021 Volkswagen ID.4

Performance

The ID.4 isn’t especially quick for an EV, but confident handling and precise steering add some driver enjoyment.

The 2021 VW ID.4 is powered by a single permanent-magnet motor powering the rear wheels, making 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. 

The suspension of the ID.4 is laid out much like other compact crossovers, with struts in front and a multi-link setup in back, with a subframe for mounting the motor unit. The curb-to-curb turning circle is just 33.6 feet. 

A big liquid-cooled battery pack under the passenger floor contains 288 lithium-ion pouch cells in 12 modules, adding up to 82 kwh gross capacity, or 77 kwh usable. It weighs 1,067 pounds, and boosts the steel-bodied ID.4’s weight to more than 4,600 pounds in the rear-wheel-drive 1st Edition. 

The ID.4 can be charged at up to 11 kw, making it capable of charging to full with a 240V home charger in as little as 7.5 hours, or on CCS-format DC fast charging—like what you might encounter in VW’s related Electrify America network—at up to 125 kw, amounting to a 5%-to-80% charge in 38 minutes. 

Is the ID.4 4WD?

Not quite yet. The first versions of the ID.4 are rear-wheel drive, but dual-motor all-wheel-drive models are due to arrive this summer, potentially for the 2022 model year.  

How fast is the ID.4?

Every other aspect of driving the 2021 ID.4 is graceful and quick enough, but not particularly sharp-edged. It can dash to 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds—a bit quicker than its predecessor, the e-Golf, but somewhat slower than everything from the Tesla Model Y and Mustang Mach-E to the Kia Niro EV and Chevrolet Bolt EV. 

Dual-motor all-wheel-drive versions of the ID.4 are expected to be quicker to 60 mph by a second or more. 

The ID.4 makes up for lukewarm acceleration with great handling; its rear-wheel-drive layout gives it a balanced feel in tight on-ramps and twisty backroads, and the steering tracks and centers predictably. 

Drivers have Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Custom modes to choose from (a subtle difference in steering and accelerator responses), while a ‘B’ mode trades the easy-coasting feel of ‘D’ (Drive) for a little more regenerative braking when you lift off the right pedal. Lift off the brake and the ID.4 creeps ahead slowly. In an early test car, the last few feet of stops were intermittently grabby, however—meaning that in gentle rolling stops the ID.4 would stop earlier than intended.

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2021 Volkswagen ID.4

Comfort & Quality

The ID.4 cabin is quiet and comfortable, with more passenger and cargo space than the exterior suggests.

One of the advantages of vehicles designed to be fully electric from the start is that they can package the whole vehicle in a much more passenger-friendly way. The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 doesn’t at all squander this potential—although it does things a little differently than other dedicated EV models on the market. 

This model’s excellent use of space, its exceptionally comfortable backseat space, and its quiet cabin—add up to an 8 out of 10. 

The ID.4 presents in this category as if it were in a bigger size class, with impressive passenger space, an ideal seating position and sightlines, and good ride comfort—plus what we think is the most comfortable back seat among compact EVs. Excellent noise insulation and, from what we can tell so far, impressive materials and general fit-and-finish, altogether make the ID.4 a model that will surprise and delight when you put yourself, your kids or pets, and your stuff in the ID.4. 

One surprise to some might be that the ID.4 doesn’t have a front trunk, or “frunk”—in the era of Tesla, almost expected in an EV. VW has instead packaged the onboard charger, climate control system, and other components there, and used it to free up the footwell and cabin space in front, making the feel airier. 

The center console is very deep and, with the door bins, provides places for various small items. There’s a pass-through for skis, and the rear seatbacks fold forward to a nearly flat space, expanding the already great 30.3-cubic-foot space to 64.2 cubic feet. The cargo floor also folds and slides forward to allow access to a separate “hidden” compartment below.  

The ID.4 does a lot of things right with climate comfort, too. The whole lineup includes a heated steering wheel and toasty heated seats, and the climate system allows you to choose the driver specifically to save energy. With the Car-Net app, you can remotely precondition the cabin while it’s still plugged in, so as not to use up driving range.

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2021 Volkswagen ID.4

Safety

The 2021 VW ID.4 earned top safety marks from the IIHS.

How safe is the ID.4?

Initial crash testing bodes well for VW's new modular platform for electric vehicles first used on the ID.4. The IIHS awarded it a Top Safety Pick+ for withstanding and preventing crashes. That earns it a point, as does standard automatic emergency braking, as well as its good outward vision front, side, rear and even overhead with its fixed glass roof. It's at least an 8, but we'll hold off on a final rating until the NHTSA weighs in with crash test results. 

All versions of the ID.4 come with a so-called IQ.Drive suite of safety features. In addition to six airbags, the ID.4 comes with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and road-sign recognition. Parking sensors are also included, as well as automatic high beams, and a rear-traffic alert feature.

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2021 Volkswagen ID.4

Features

The ID.4’s interface feels half-baked, but a strong feature set and free road-trip charging help offset the frustration.

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 has a well-rounded set of features that should—once the bugs are worked out—be enough to satisfy those who want a tech-savvy EV on a limited budget. 

The ID.4 includes a strong 4-year/50,000-mile vehicle warranty and 8-year/100,000 battery warranty. And three years of free Electrify America road-trip fast charging headlines excellent base content and is a distinct plus adding to overall value and the ownership experience. Yet the ID.4’s poorly functioning interface and infotainment are cause for a demerit. That leaves our total at a 6 out of 10. 

The ID.4 marks the debut of a completely new interface—not just the infotainment screen but everything from gauges to climate controls. So far, we don’t have a whole lot of good to report. Tactile buttons have been retired in favor of capacitive surfaces. 

Steering wheel controls respond more fluently to the basics like volume and channel selections, and there’s a lot of potential in the voice commands—if you have the patience to learn the syntax. 

The menu of the touchscreen system, which is high in the line of sight, high-contrast, and colorful, is elegant in theory but clumsy in execution. A home button is always in the same spot on the left, and the tabs that click through to individual screens hug the left side of the screen—meaning the driver doesn’t have to take their eyes so far off the road ahead. The problem, in early cars, is that any selections involve a frustrating lag. Likewise, the capacitive buttons below the screen exhibit some of the same latency. 

The ID.4 is the first model in the VW family capable of over-the-air updates, so the capability should be there to improve the performance of the interface. 

Which Volkswagen ID.4 should I buy?

At $41,190 in RWD form or $44,870 in AWD form, the ID.4 Pro offers the best value in the lineup, with cloth seats, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control, a 10-inch center touchscreen with wireless CarPlay and Android Auto, a wireless smartphone charging pad, heated front seats, heated mirrors, and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel. The AWD version of the Pro also adds a heated windshield.

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Volkswagen ID.4?

Volkswagen is launching one of the best-equipped versions of the ID.4 first, with some extra cosmetic pieces thrown in for early adopters. The 1st Edition model costs $45,190 and comes with a white steering wheel and armrests, plus a clever play/pause pedal motif, a tow hitch, and special badging. That’s on top of the Pro S model’s adaptive headlights, panoramic glass roof, power tailgate, power mirrors, puddle lamps, 30-color ambient lighting, and bigger 12-inch touchscreen. 

The only option package, which you can add on the Pro S but not the 1st Edition, is called the Gradient Package, and includes bigger 20-inch wheels, two-tone paint (black roof), and silver bumper accents.

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2021 Volkswagen ID.4

Fuel Economy

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 has no tailpipe emissions.

The Volkswagen ID.4 offers more than 200 miles of range and has no direct tailpipe emissions. That amounts to a 10 out of 10 here. 

According to the EPA, the 2021 ID.4 is rated at 250 miles from its net battery capacity of 66 kwh. That number applies to the 1st Edition that arrives for first deliveries, as well as the Pro S version that offers essentially the same equipment. The more affordable ID.4 Pro, which includes less equipment, hasn’t yet been rated. 

The top-trim ID.4 versions come rated at 97 MPGe combined—about 2.9 miles per kwh—or 104 MPGe city, 89 MPGe highway. 

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7.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety N/A
Features 6
Fuel Economy 10
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2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Pricing Insights

  • 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 arriving now as an all-new EV
  • Lease: From $379 per month for 36 months
  • Rebate: $7,500 tax credit + state rebates
  • Finance: From 2.12% APR for 60 months

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