Pros—Attractive. Roomy. Smooth acceleration. Supple ride. Good handling. Acceptable driving range.
Cons—Turn signal stalk gets in way of drive controls. Soft brake pedal feel. Offbeat rear window controls. Controls distracting when driving.
Bottom Line—Most Americans will likely feel at home in it.
The all-new attractive Volkswagen ID.4 largely looks much like a gas-engine SUV, with shapely lines, door handles that don’t have to be pulled out and a nicely integrated rear spoiler. It’s built on VW’s new modular EV platform, not on an existing car platform.
This is Volkswagen’s first long-range electric vehicle that it is offering for the U.S. market. It’s an attractive mid-size SUV that has a few annoying features but generally should make most American drivers feel at home.
The rear-wheel-drive ID.4 starts at $39,995, without a federal $7,500 U.S. tax credit, but the higher line Pro S model I drove cost approximately $45,190 without the credit.
The ID.4 is built on Volkswagen’s new modular EV platform. It has a sporty body, roomy interior, generally good ride and smooth acceleration (0-60 m.p.h. in 7.6 seconds) that makes it seem like you’re going faster than you really are. A driver can use the ID.4 touchscreen to get various driving modes including Eco (for best economy), Comfort (for most driving) and Sport (or a tighter feeling vehicle). However, there is little difference between acceleration with Comfort and Sport modes. Eco provides the “Comfort” ride but slows acceleration a bit.
There’s an estimated 250-miles driving range on a full charge, and VW offers’s 3-years of free charging at its more than 515 Electrify America stations. Estimated economy is 104 niles per gallon in the city and 89 on highways. A driver can see how many miles are left on the driving range by glancing at a digital range provider near the large digital speedometer directly in front of the driver.
This electric is more comfortable than others such as the Tesla Model 3 but not as sporty as the Ford Mustang Mach-E.
The higher-line ID.4 Pro S I tested has had such added features as synthetic leather upholstery, a larger (12-inch) touch screen, panoramic sunroof and power massaging seats and wireless charging for Smart phones. There are a good number of storage areas. Seats promise to be comfortable on long drives.
All ID.4 models have 201-horsepower and 220 pound/feet of torque, with a direct-speed 1-drive transmission. This 4,947-5053-pound VW uses a heavy lithium-ion battery pack on the floor, which contributes to a low center of gravity for better handling and an electric motor on the rear axle. Coming later this year is a dual-motor all-wheel drive model with around 300 horsepower for the go-faster crowd. My test ID.4 was plenty fast when merging into fast freeway traffic and 65-plus m.p.h. passing on highways.
The ID.4’s handling is designed to be comfortable for most Americans and slightly sporty. It confidently handles sweeping curves but gives a driver a feeling that he should be going just a little slower. The steering is accurate and nicely geared, although maybe a little too quick for some. The brake pedal has a linear action but feels rather soft. I’d like more initial bite at a the top of the pedal’s travel. The ID.4 has regenerative braking to keep the batteries charged, and such braking helps make the brake rotors last longer.
The ID.4 has exceptionally wide-opening front and rear doors and calls for a little extra effort to enter. Occupants sit high. The ID.4 seats four tall adults or five in a pinch if the third rear occupant doesn’t mind a stiff center seat area. That area is best left to a fold-down armrest or a pass-through area from the cargo area for more stuff.
Annoying features include a turn signal stalk that occasionally got in the way of the Drive-Park-Reverse controls located near the thick steering wheel. And the offbeat control for operating the front power windows had to be switched to do the same for the rear windows. The result was that I occasionally accidentally opened a rear window when I wanted a front window opened.
Features of the ultra-modern interior included dual-zone automatic climate control, front synthetic leather seats, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android auto, soft-touch materials and nice material stitching.
The opening for the fairly large cargo area is low and wide for fast loading. The hatch automatically opens and closes smoothly on struts. Rear seat backs easily flip forward and sit flat to increase cargo space. Such space goes from 30.3 cubic feet to 64.2 cubic feet with the seat backs lowered.
You need not touch the starter button to turn on the ID.4—just have the vehicle key on you, sit on the driver’s seat and touch the brake pedal. The ID.4 automatically turns off if you leave it with the vehicle key in your possession.
The quiet interior has no conventional controls. Rather, there are a few haptic digital buttons that have virtually no feel, with nearly all controls operated through the touchscreen. Some conventional controls, such as those for the sound and climate control systems, would make key functions less distracting when driving.
Safety items include automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, front/rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.
Volkswagen has succeeded with the ID.4 in coming out with an electric SUV that promises to be accepted by many American gas-engine vehicle owners.