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The future of electrification is just getting started and vehicles like the all-new, all-electric Volkswagen ID.4 will be among a few new Electric Vehicles (EVs) to define the mainstream for transportation in the next several years when manufacturers come through on their promises of having a full fleet of EVs. Having a week to really dive into all that the new VW ID.4 offers has been a neat learning experience and one that is hopeful in things getting better to support new EVs.
The new Volkswagen ID.4 embodies one of the first attempts to offer an EV that departs from the luxury field, which is an area that manufacturers will have to focus on for the new EV movement to really work. Additionally, in experiencing the new VW ID.4 for the second time after an initial short spin around town and now having time to charge up the vehicle, there’s a lot to digest and consider before America’s charging infrastructure becomes more viable and user-friendly.
Volkswagen is among one of the few manufacturers that have committed to directly helping improve the charging infrastructure in America via Electrify America, which is badly needed because the charging stations are spotty at best in more ways than one. Apart from vehicles like the new VW ID.4 being more of a conscious choice to charge at home, the EV future looks bleak until charging stations become more plentiful, reliable, and easily accessed. With that, my experience hasn’t been a walk in the park in my new endeavors of reviewing battery electric vehicles (BEVs). In fact, it has been challenging because many charging stations that exist in a big city like Jacksonville, FL have no consistency of availability with many being broken, many not being a “fast charger” at or near 150kW, or they are completely out of the way of my drive. However, the ID.4 is a remarkable vehicle that will surely pave a clear path to an EV future considering its mainstream and versatile appeal that most will consider charging at home via an installed Level 2 charger, which is the best option in my opinion.
In all, I can see a path to a welcoming EV future if you do a few things. For starters, if you have installed a Level 2 charger (240-volt) at your home then you should be good to go considering most new EVs can receive a full charge overnight giving you more than enough range for the day ahead. In the new Volkswagen ID.4 AWD Pro S, using a Level 2 charger at home you will get the full 240 miles of range after an overnight charge that takes about 8 hours or less depending on your state of battery at the time of plugging it in. A fully depleted battery should take around seven and a half hours using a Level 2 charger. However, getting a charge up to 80% from about 20% will only take you one hour using a public 50kW charger and just 30 minutes using a 150kW public fast charger. It’s unfortunate that it takes well over an hour to complete a charge from 80% all the way to 100% using a 150kW charger, which is essentially by design to protect the battery and yield a longer overall lifespan that applies to most new EVs. To quickly note, using the included Level 1 charger for your 110-120-volt home outlet takes about 96 hours to fully charge a depleted battery.
Getting into the new VW ID.4 there’s a lot to welcome with open arms for its spacious cabin and attractiveness for being an SUV. While the ID.4 is slightly smaller than its Tiguan SUV sibling, it still provides decent space throughout but lacks a front trunk that you find in other EVs. The seating areas are decent, and the seats are plenty comfy even though I don’t care much for the seat-bolted adjustable armrests up front. They feel unnatural where there is no center armrest. The perforated leatherette front seats have power adjustments and heating with a massage function in my loaded up ID.4 AWD Pro S test vehicle. The rear power liftgate opens up a decent cargo area with just over 30 cubic feet of space that expands to just over 64 cubic feet by folding the rear 60/40-split seatbacks down.
The unfortunate and most hated part of the ID.4 is that it is somewhat too smart for its own good. In the area of technology, the ID.4 attempts to have a new level of automation where you’re not required to use its somewhat hidden start/stop button on the side of the steering column. To get the vehicle moving you simply unlock it, hop in, press the brake pedal, and shift it into Drive using a short turn stalk mounted on the right side of the gauge cluster. Getting out of the vehicle to “turn it off” is just as simple where you just place the vehicle in Park, take off your seatbelt and exit the vehicle – the ID.4 will handle shutdown automatically upon sensing that you are no longer sitting in the seat. Some may enjoy such automation, but I rather enjoy interacting with a vehicle to start it and shut it off manually.
The last issue I have with the ID.4 is the infotainment system, which is among the worst in the current automotive industry in my opinion. The system, which is like that on the new VW Golf GTI that I recently reviewed, has a steep learning curve and there are no physical buttons for controls but instead all touch-capacitive areas with limited core function buttons. In all, the system is minimalist but cumbersome and many of the features and settings are hidden deep within menu sets fed through the 10-inch touchscreen. Moreover, the touch button areas do not light up at night leaving you to guess where to place your fingers for something as simple as turning up the volume or adjusting your automatic dual-zone climate temperature.
The cabin is quite a nice space and has some luxury appeal with the soft touch and stitched dashboard areas, in addition to the accented color of the dashboard and part of the door trim. There’s a nice fit and finish of areas and versatility in the cupholder and storage areas allowing you to remove the cup storage spots to make room for storage of other items.
To get back to the good parts of the ID.4, the drivetrain is wonderful as it gives you two electric motors with ample instant torque, a total of 339 lb-ft and 295 horsepower powering all four wheels. The ID.4 AWD Pro S is the top trim that has all-wheel-drive and is noticeably quicker than the standard rear-wheel-drive trims where it hits 60 mph from a stop in just 5.4 seconds.
The suspension is nicely tuned to soak up road imperfections but has somewhat of body lean into turns and is tuned to the soft side making it feel luxurious. The ID.4 AWD Pro S manages to handle well even with the curb weight of just over 4,700 pounds. The 82 kWh 400-volt lithium-ion battery pack, just like most new EVs, is mounted low for a low center of gravity in the ID.4.
The drive modes only offer subtle changes in steering wheel effort but offer a big difference in deceleration in how the vehicle handles brake regeneration to recharge the battery during braking. The transition from brake regen to the friction brakes is almost seamless and feels mostly natural except for when you brake somewhat hard or when you get down to about 5 mph where the brake regen stops and you are required to add a bit more pressure to the brakes to completely stop. There is no one-pedal driving feature but using Sport mode almost enables you to drive with one pedal but does require the use of the brakes to come to a complete stop.
For the electric range and efficiency, the ID.4 AWD Pro S adds to the overall range from the standard trims to get about 240 miles from a full charge. That range may vary but mostly sticks to the 98 city MPGe, 88 highway MPGe, and 93 MPGe combined in the real world from what I experienced. There’s a neat display bar indicating your throttle power or braking regeneration on the digital gauge cluster, which is a nice touch to get the best economy for accelerating or braking. Otherwise, the ID.4 AWD Pro S is a respectable performer for an SUV that falls into the compact classification.
Note: The 2022 model year VW ID.4 gets increased range up to an additional 20 miles on a full charge, slightly faster charging with a 135kW charger vs. the 2021’s 125kW charger, and 3 years of free charging via Electrify America chargers in 30-minute sessions.
The Volkswagen ID.4 captures all the active safety features that you expect, which include blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning/emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane-keeping system, driver attention warning, parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control.
Volkswagen has committed itself to electrification just as other large automotive manufacturers and the new ID.4 will help launch that movement. Pricing for the new ID.4 rear-wheel-drive base trim starts at $41,230 before any fees. My loaded-up 2021 ID.4 AWD Pro S test vehicle comes in at $50,870 including a $1,195 destination charge. The 2022 model year appears to have increased by $1,235 across the board.
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