2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Review

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 - Proving EVs can be practical with a few fun 'quirks.'


Volkswagen officially joins the electric vehicle segment with the all-new ID.4. The ID.4 is an all-electric five-passenger crossover that offers up to 260 miles of range. It's offered in two trims, Pro or Pro S and both are available in either rear or all-wheel drive. Volkswagen also offers a Gradient Package on the Pro S models that adds 20" alloys, a black painted roof, and silver roof rails for $1,500. RWD Pro models start at $39,995 with the AWD version climbing to $43,675. RWD Pro S models start at $44,495 and $48,175 for AWD. All models currently qualify for the potential $7,500 tax credit.  Additionally, Volkswagen includes three years of fast charging with Electrify America at no additional cost. Other similarly sized all electric crossovers include the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the Tesla Model Y.  Coming into the market next year are the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6. More traditional vehicles in the competition set include the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5. Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4 Prime.

As an all-new model the ID.4 is setting the benchmark for future electric vehicles (EVs) from VW. It offers a roomy interior that comfortably sits five passengers with decent storage and offers technologies such as swipe controls and an entirely new take on a gear shifter. Passengers are treated to a clean, but  familiar interior and outside the exterior LED light signature is a personal favorite. The ride is smooth with good acceleration from a stop. It's a futuristic vehicle to look at, sit in and listen to as there's a space ship sound the ID.4 emits when cruising along or backing up to let others know of its presence. It puts up an impressive fight against traditional compact crossovers which may have buyers considering electric. After a week in the ID.4, here's what stood out...

Performance (+)

The ID.4 Pro gets an 82-kWh battery that is available in either rear or all-wheel drive. RWD models generate 201 horsepower and 220 lb.-ft. of instant torque with a single electric motor on the rear axle. AWD models add an additional asynchronous electric motor to the front axle which bumps up the total horsepower to 295 and 339 lb.-ft. of instant torque. Both options are smooth with relatively quick acceleration from a stop. Passing power on the highway did seem to lag a little in my test RWD model in comparison to some competitors.  The overall ride is more comfortable than sporty. It was very smooth over road imperfections and easy to steer. Handling was on par with traditional Volkswagens as it felt grounded and took corners with ease.

The regenerative braking system in the ID.4 is designed for efficiency and offers the driver two modes. The D (Drive) position is the default mode, allowing the car to coast whenever the driver's foot is off the accelerator or brake pedal. As soon as the driver applies the brakes, energy recuperation is activated, and the electric drive motor feeds power back into the battery. The B (Brake) position enables the driver to select a heavier amount of regeneration when lifting their foot of the accelerator. Drivers can use the gear selector switch to change from the D position to B at any time. In this mode, the ID.4's drive almost always recovers energy during lifting off, but not all the way to a standstill. The limit is enough for noticeable deceleration that won't confuse drivers of conventional internal combustion engine vehicles.

Range / Charge Time (+)

EPA estimates a range of 260 miles for the ID.4 Pro and 249 miles for the ID.4 AWD Pro which is on par with what I achieved in the RWD Pro S. Charge time was also impressive, in one instance I charged it from 46% with 129 miles of range to 100% with 262 miles of range in just under an hour on a ChargePoint Level 3 DC fast charger. I was also able to re-gain all of my daily commute miles with an overnight charge in my standard 120V home outlet. Comparatively, the ID.4 charged noticeably quicker than the Mustang Mach-E I reviewed the following week.

Turning Radius (+)

Turning radius isn't typically something I'd highlight but I have to give credit to the ID.4 for an exceptionally tight circle. Thanks to the rear-wheel drive platform, it's incredibly nimble and easy to maneuver. A real-world comparison has the ID.4 making a full circle within 3 parking spaces while the similarly sized Tesla Model 3 takes up 4 spaces. The measured radius is 31.5 ft. This will prove to be a huge advantage for VW owners who live in urban environments.

LED Lighting (+)

The use of LED lighting has become standard practice now and manufacturers are using them to create unique brand identities. VW's use of LED lighting in front and back is near the top of the class. Since EVs don't necessitate a front grille, the ID.4 utilizes this space for lighting by creating a front light bar that outlines the headlights and stretches to the middle where an illuminated VW emblem is located. Around back, LED lighting outlines the taillights and stretches across the hatch. Even when off, the ID.4 lights have a matte black inside with various textures that looks good in daylight. Whether coming or going, this is a sharp and welcoming lighting signature.

Wheel Design (+)

The ID.4 has either 19 or 20-inch wheels wrapped in all-season tires. Both alloy wheel designs blend finishes that include machine-faced silver with painted black. The designs are sporty with a sharp fluid design that appear constantly in motion. In particular, the 20-inch design looks and feels very premium. The larger wheels can be had within the Gradient Package on the RWD Pro S..

Interior Space (+)

The overall space felt very open and clean with a simple modern design. The large windows and glass roof add to the open-air vibe. All passengers had plenty of head and leg room thanks to the elongated roofline and wheelbase. Space up front is further maximized by keeping all controls on the dashboard, including a very unique gear selector. The materials are minimalistic with limited embellishments. A standard 10-inch touch infotainment screen (12-inch is optional) sits prominently atop the dash without any clutter. The configurable center console features up to four cup holders in a vertical line, two of which can be hidden with a rolling storage lid.  Cell phone pockets are available in the backs of the front seats for rear seat passengers as well as a center armrest with two more cupholders, for a total of eight pre-configured beverage holders.

Cargo capacity is 30.3 cu. ft. behind the second row and has a maximum of 64.2 cu. ft. with the seats folded flat. These numbers are good compared to others in the hybrid and electric class. The seats are easy to fold and the large opening and glass roof add a few inches when stacking boxes inside. There is also a rear seat pass through opening that will flip down if needed. All models feature a below-floor storage compartment in the back where owners can store the household charging cord and other small items. The cover for the rear cargo space is solid and stays in place, unlike the flimsy one found in the Ford Mustang Mach-e.

Gear Selector (+)

Gone are the days of shifting a standard gear lever and VW has completely changed the game by utilizing a gear selector that is mounted to the digital cluster behind the steering wheel. It reminds me of the 90's Hasbro game 'Bop-it' as depending on your desired function, you twist it forward, twist it backward or push in the button the side. It's a quirky feature that is fun to show off and actually one that I became accustom to rather quickly. I like this modern interpretation better than the dial knobs or push buttons.

Technology (Swipe Controls) (+/-)

Most everything in the ID.4 is controlled via touch or voice control. The digital cluster display in front of the steering wheel is small, but crystal clear and can be controlled via haptic touch buttons in the multi-function heated steering wheel. The infotainment screen is the hub of the vehicle for the standard navigation system, entertainment, driver-assist systems, telematics, and vehicle settings. The menus can be moved via voice commands, gesture control in front of the screen, or by swiping the screen similar to a mobile device. There are no dials for volume, tuning, or climate control.

The system works well including the voice commands.  Similar to how you talk to Alexa in your home, you can ask 'ID' to do things for you such as turn up the heat, play a song, or even tell a joke.

Standard wireless mobile charging, wireless app-connect, in car Wi-Fi capability, and integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto help keep the interior free of cords. VW's Car-net system will also sync up with Amazon Alexa if you want her to come along for the ride as well. All of these features and 'tricks' are great, but they will take some time to understand how to operate. It's not necessarily an intuitive system, but it is one that can be learned and that drivers will acclimate to.

Ambiance (+)

From comfortable leather seats to ambient lighting, VW has created a calm, serene space inside the ID.4.   Power adjustable seats available in cloth or synthetic leather offer good support and comfort. Available heated, ventilated, and massaging seats will further relax the front passengers. Ambient lighting lights up the interior at night and can be adjusted to your mood. Enjoy the view of the sky through the fixed glass panoramic roof or swipe the control switch for a power-retractable sunshade for a more intimate space. There is also a calming beauty in the simplicity of the ID.4 interior.

Final Statement (+)

There are little faults to find in the Volkswagen ID.4 outside of basic personal preferences. This crossover makes a strong case for going electric with solid range numbers, better than average charging times, and solid performance specs. Most impressive to me on this one though, is the interior space and ambiance. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it accommodated my family of 5 compared to many other compact five-passenger crossovers... and it did it with a very futuristic vibe.

First Impression Summary:

Test Vehicle: 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro S
Exterior Color: Dusk Blue with Black Roof
Interior Color: Lunar Gray Leatherette
Notable Options: Gradient package ($1,500)
MSRP as tested: $47,190 (With Delivery/Destination)

Jim OBrill

Jim is Director of Marketing for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and Chicago Auto Show and a co-host of Drive Chicago Radio on WLS 890 AM Chicago. His passion for cars started young and he’s often referred to as the ‘car-guy’ among family and friends. As a former auto detailer, he has an eye for identifying solid used cars and tags along on many car buying adventures. Early in his career he worked at several car dealerships in various areas of the business. As a co-host on Drive Chicago and member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, Jim has had opportunities to attend track school and drive vehicles on multiple circuits such as Road America and Gingerman Raceway. With a background in photography, taking pictures of vehicles has always been a hobby.

Jim also enjoys the trails and taking trucks like his 4Runner off road. He has a special appreciation for older cars and can often be found spending free time at cruise nights or home washing one his four vehicles. Jim resides in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three kids. Follow Jim on Instagram at @jpcars22 for new vehicle content or @forgotten_survivors.312 for shots of older cars still on the streets of Chicagoland.