My first fully electric car experience came compliments of Volkswagen’s 2021 ID.4 First Edition crossover. Since then, VW introduced an AWD version that most Snowbelt folks would prefer.
My initial impression is that ID.4 contains all of VWs quality build and is loaded with all the latest technology. And the ID.4 is the first of many new EVs coming from this German company.
To its credit, the ID.4 was the winner of the 2021 World Car of the Year by a team of automotive journalists. And it received the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations top 5-star safety rating.
The 5-seat ID.4 EV tested was a rear motor/rear drive configuration that produces 201-hp and 228 lb/ft of torque for a driving range of 250 miles. It draws power from an 82-kWh battery pack stowed in the floorboard. Speaking in terms of EPA mpg in a gasoline engine, ID.4 is rated at an estimated 107 MPGe in the city and 91 MPGe highway. The system carries a tow rating of 2,200 pounds.
The AWD version with dual, front and rear motors, generates 295-hp and 350 lb/ft of torque for an estimated driving range of 249 miles.
ID.4 comes with a charging cord/plug that’s stored in the cargo area. At one of Electrify America’s charging stations, that are owned by VW, it took 36 minutes for an 89 percent charge which bumped the remaining mileage from 115 miles to 265 miles. The charge rate was $0.16/minute on slow charge and $0.32/minute on fast charge. Fortunately, Volkswagen offers Free Fast Charging for the first three years of ownership at Electrify America charging stations. As of this writing, there were 2,556 across the U.S.
While I was having the ID.4 charged a lady from New Jersey pulled next to me with another new ID.4. She was headed to upstate New York and in conversation filled me in on the aspects of charging. First off, she said she needed an app to show where the stations were located to plan her trip. For the VW app and once the free service ended, she had to provide a lot of credit card information and other personal info. She wasn’t keen on the latter, but had no choice but to do it. Then she said her dealer told her not to charge the battery more than 89 percent because it will shorten battery life. Another good one was that I should set an idling fee/charge otherwise another car (a competitor) could use the electric VW paid for. Most importantly, she told me I couldn’t take the plug out of the cars’ receptacle unless I first pressed the keyfob (an interlock of sorts). Glad she told me that otherwise I’d be in a jam as the owners’ manual for me to consult was missing in the test car. (I subsequently learned there’s an automatic function on the touchscreen.)
ID.4 also uses what VW terms Brake Energy Recuperation to charge the battery. It works when slowing down and when the vehicle is rolling in overrun or driving downhill. Electrical energy is created by the electric drivetrain and stored in the high-wattage battery. As such, the electric drivetrain essentially works as a generator and creates an engine braking effect, according to VW.
The ID.4 is an attractive compact crossover. I can’t really say SUV as my term for that is that it can be taken off-road and over rough, rugged terrain which the ID.4 isn’t suited for.
With slick, slippery aerodynamic styling lines, ID.4 is considerably better looking than Tesla models 3 and Y. That pair has the look of a catfish. VW also uses the lower grille to allow air in to cool the battery pack.
Interestingly, when approaching the vehicle with the keyfob, the outside mirrors swing out, the instrument gauge and touchscreen illuminate and the motor energizes. It did feel strange not to insert an ignition key or push a keyless ignition button. To get underway, merely step on the brake pedal, which you must do to open the windows as well. The latter brings up a sore subject. There are no separate switches for the rear windows. The fronts serve all four.
ID.4s interior is somewhat plain vanilla yet attractive with its perforated leatherette seats. The dash is void of knobs and switches. Instead, HVAC and other controls use flush buttons below the 12-inch infotainment touchscreen (with voice control) and buttons on the steering wheel. The infotainment system includes Apple CarPlay/Android Auto through App Connect. A wireless phone charger is included on the console. There is, however, no console box just a pair of cup holders.
In the drivers’ line of view, a single 5-inch long gauge cluster displays the selected direct drive automatic transmission gear and other operating information. And it adjusts up/down with the steering wheel.
Speaking of the gear selector, the shifter is on a mini stalk and twists forward for D/B, N modes, rearward for Reverse, plus a “P” button on the end of the stalk for Park. Very innovative. The “B” can be used for intense energy regeneration according to VW.
Heated front seats are comfy and supportive after a low 18-inch step-in. The rear seats too are especially comfy for two adults or three youngsters. Leg and headroom are generous fore and aft.
In the cargo area that has a hands-free liftgate, a low 29-inch liftover eases heavy loading. With the rear seatbacks upright, there’s 33 cubic feet of space that measures 36.5 inches deep, 43 wide and 28 high. Flip the seatbacks and capacity expands to 64 cubic feet for 70 inches of cargo loading depth. There’s also a 4-inch deep bin beneath the cargo floor to stow the charging cable and beneath that, a 9-inch deep bin that houses the tire inflator, jack and lug wrench.
Press on the throttle and the ID.4 moves smartly and quickly. It’s been independently 0-60 timed at 7.6 seconds. If you’ve ever driven a battery-powered golf cart or tow motor, the sensation is similar. And it’s a quiet surge of power. Open the window and only an electric motor whine can be heard.
ID.4 also has four driving modes of Eco, Comfort, Sport and Custom. Sport mode offers more throttle response and steering effort. In Eco, response is more reserved and steering lightens.
Shod with 20-inch Bridgestone tires, ID.4 rides smoothly with road imperfections smartly dampened. ID.4 was nimble, planted and easy to park.
ID.4 is offered in Pro and ProS trims. The First Edition tested had the latest gamut of safety features such as Travel Assist (semi-automated driving assistance); adaptive cruise; lane keeping assist; forward collision warning/auto emergency braking w/pedestrian monitoring; active side assist w/blind spot monitoring including rear cross traffic alert; electronic stability control; tire pressure monitoring and many more. Niceties include a panoramic sunroof and satellite radio.
For all this, ID.4 was priced at $45,190 including delivery of $1,195. But this becomes more attractive after a $7,500 federal tax credit.
ID.4 comes with generous warranties of 4 years/50K mile new vehicle; 4/50K mile high voltage system warranty; 8/100K high voltage battery warranty; 7/100K corrosion protection; 2/20K carefree maintenance; and 3/36K roadside assistance.
As I sat waiting for the ID.4 to be charged, I looked across the street at a Sunoco gasoline station and thought I could be there, fill up, and be out of there in five minutes. Frustrating to say the least.
All in all, ID.4 in itself is a fine, handsome, great handling/riding crossover. But I’d prefer a VW Tiguan AWD SUV.