The Volkswagen ID.4 EV – It’s a gas.
The Volkswagen ID.4 EV
It’s a gas.
As I’ve noted before, if this country’s mainstream media – you know, the daily paper, your local newscast or NBC’s Lester Holt – reports on the auto business, it’s inevitably on the industry’s progress (or lack thereof) toward electrification. And while any of that coverage is better than none of that coverage, it distorts our present reality: EVs are gaining a share of the marketplace, but that share is still less than 5% of total vehicle sales. And while America’s affluent have embraced Teslas and, more recently, the Mustang Mach-E, Chevy Bolt and various Hyundais and Kias, with the exception of the Chevy the all-electric vehicle isn’t for the middle class. With that, Volkswagen’s ID.4 attempts to find a middle ground in the EV segment, with a spec that’s accessible and a price point – $40K and up – just this side of aspirational.
This was my first drive of any length in the newish ID.4, as I’m a little late to VW’s EV game. Volkswagen’s U.S. headquarters is within a short bike ride (or long walk – it’s 3 miles) of our home, and I’m on good terms with the vendor responsible for extending loans to the local press. For whatever reason, the ID.4 and I hadn’t crossed paths since its U.S. launch in the fall of 2020. At the time of its intro the ID.4 was sourced from a VW plant in Europe, while the modestly updated 2023 now hails from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Not only does that shorten the supply chain, but as our federal government continues to tweak its incentive programs for the purchase of EVs, those built in Tennessee will undoubtedly provide a financial edge to those produced offshore. (And here’s hoping Chattanooga will provide a Davy Crockett edition of the ID.4.)
In the walk-up to VW’s 4-door all-electric crossover, I’m impressed by the footprint; the ID.4 seems to strike that just-right balance offered by Volkswagen’s Tiguan, with outside dimensions easy to maneuver and inside space large enough for a family. In profile the ID.4 sits slightly back on its chassis, imbuing the EV with an upmarket, rear-wheel drive vibe, while its greenhouse is sufficiently generous for your in-town maneuvers. And while the sheetmetal isn’t as angular as the Tiguan or larger Atlas, you can imagine it in a VW-centric garage, perhaps with a Golf R or GTI on the other side.
Inside, the emphasis is on clean and uncluttered. Notably, there is no start button – so don’t look for one. And if hoping for a relatively intuitive operation of the infotainment screen, you’ll have to look elsewhere; obviously, if you own an ID.4 you’ll grow accustomed to its two-or-three step process, but I’m only borrowing the ID.4 and don’t have THAT MANY years left. If I were managing the product team, I’d make sure controls were spec’d for the target demographic, and not 20-somethings still living with their parents.
In its spec Volkswagen leads with a one-motor, rear-wheel drive base model, offering 201 horsepower and about that many miles of range. Opt for all-wheel drive and VW gives you two motors, 295 horsepower and a competitive (just…) 250 miles of range, more than enough for a daily commute and errand running, but short of what is quickly becoming the new standard – 300+ miles. Obviously, EV development is ongoing, and we’ll see in the next two years an almost exponential growth in both EV offerings and EV capability.
Behind the wheel, Car and Driver knocks the ID.4 for its lack of playfulness. Frankly, I wasn’t looking for the ID.4 to provide an amusement ride; for that I’d spend $40K for VW’s Golf R. I simply found it easy to drive, requiring relatively light inputs on a platform that doesn’t feel like its almost 5,000 pounds of curb weight. In combination with an adequately high hip point and unobstructed sight lines, there’s no sense of the slightly claustrophobic that I’ve seen (or not seen!) in Kia’s EV6 or the Mustang Mach-E – both of which I like.
If shopping, it’d behoove you to see how the U.S. incentives shake out over the course of the next few months. In our government’s almost infinite wisdom, not only is the EV’s final assembly point considered, but so are the sources of its battery makeup and its final assembly. But the auto market is finally regaining some sense of competitiveness, which can only help the active, in-market shopper.
And if you are that in-market shopper, schedule demo drives of those vehicles on your short list…always a good ID.