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2021 Volkswagen ID.4 First Drive - Review by Larry Nutson

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2021 Volkswagen ID.4 First Drive

By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Volkswagen’s new ID.4 went on sale in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2021. We’re now half-way through the year and total ID.4 sales tally at 5,756 units. VW says the ID.4 is now one of its fastest selling models, ranking among the fastest sellers in the industry.

The ID.4 is Volkswagen’s first all-electric utility vehicle (UV) and the brand’s first global battery electric vehicle (BEV).

Notably, the Volkswagen ID.4 has been named “World Car of the Year 2021,” prevailing over strong global competition. The World Car Awards are presented by more than 90 international automotive journalists from 24 countries, who vote on the best innovations on the world market.

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The ID.4 competes in the world’s largest market segment—compact utility vehicles—and is currently produced in Germany and China. It will also be assembled in the United States with production expected to begin in 2022 at the Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant.

The ID.4 has seating for five, is a compact 180.5 inches long and has 30.3 cu.ft. of cargo space behind the rear seat. It’s a very versatile and urban-friendly vehicle.

At introduction the 2021 ID.4 is offered in Pro, Pro S, and 1ST Edition trims all of which are rear-wheel drive. The 1ST Edition has in the meantime sold out. ID.4 has an 82kWh battery and a rear-mounted AC permanent-magnet synchronous motor with 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. The EPA-certified range for the Pro S and 1ST Edition models is 250 miles whereas the Pro is rated at 260 miles.

The EPA-estimated fuel economy for the Pro S and 1ST Edition models is 104 MPGe for city driving; highway driving is rated at 89 MPGe, and combined city/highway at 97 MPGe.

Later this year Pro and Pro S trims with all-wheel drive will be offered. They will be equipped with a second, front-mounted electric motor powering the front wheels.

Pricing starts with the Pro at $39,995 MSRP. Pro S is priced at $44,495 and the sold-out 1ST Edition was priced at $43,995. When it becomes available the ID.4 Pro with AWD will be priced at $43,675 and the Pro S AWD will be $48,175.

Each of these are eligible for the $7,500 Federal tax credit. Destination charge on all is $1,195. A Gradient Package is available for the Pro S priced at $1,500 and includes larger wheels and further design differentiators.

Simply put, the ID.4 is a well-designed and executed compact UV powered by a battery and electric motor instead of a gasoline fueled engine.

My drive experience in the ID.4 was in a 1ST Edition finished in Dusk Blue with a black roof. This actually was my second time seeing the ID.4 in person, but my first behind the wheel and driving it. Back in March Volkswagen of America completed a drive across the U.S. with the ID.4. Starting in New York City, a small team crossed the States on a predominantly southern route, wrapping up the drive on schedule in 18 days in Sacramento, California.

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The team covered more than 6,700 miles and crossed 19 states plus Washington, DC. On their stop in Chicago I met up with the team and spoke with Dustin Krause, Director, e-Mobility who emphasized that “Range anxiety is a thing of the past and the drive is to prove that not only is long-distance driving an easy task, but it’s also affordable.”

The vehicle was charged at 32 Electrify America charging stations, among a few other opportunities that included overnight charging at selected hotels. A video of the entire drive is embedded below my review

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Overall the ID.4 is very stylishly designed and executed. The gently sloping roof line with the bright trim that sweeps from the windshield to the C-pillar in combination with the black roof give the ID.4 a car-like look. The interior is very fresh and inviting.

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Upon entering ID.4 says “Hello” and “lights-up” for you to start driving. A small driver’s instrument cluster and a large center display provide driving information and access to infotainment. Controls and functions are tech-forward. Some require a bit of familiarization and then become second nature to use.

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Acceleration is decent, in the mid-seven second range, coming from the instant torque of the electric motor. Ride is firm, but not too. BEVs are heavy, for example around 4,600 lbs. for the ID.4, and have a low center of gravity. You’ll notice a bit of a different feel compared to a gasoline powered vehicle. I was pleased with the overall driving dynamics of the ID.4.

There’s a full contingent of advance driver-assist safety (ADAS) features. With no internal combustion engine things are nicely quiet…a real plus of all BEVs. The regenerative braking system in the ID.4 puts charge back into the battery. The D (Drive) position is the default mode, automatically activated upon start-up. The B (Brake) position enables a heavier amount of regeneration, and I used this a lot in Chicago’s stop and go driving.

In partnership with Electrify America 3 years of unlimited charging on MY21 ID.4 vehicles begins upon vehicle purchase. It’s important to understand that charging times will vary and depend on a variety of factors, including ambient temperature, charger type, battery condition and initial state of charge, vehicle condition and others.

Charging to full on an 11kW Level 2 240-volt charger can take 7.5 hours, and on a 7.2kW Level 2 charger it can take 11.5 hours. At a public DC fast-charging station, with 125 kW charging, the ID.4 can go from five to 80 percent charged in about 38 minutes. The kW rating of the charging equipment is important for faster charging times.

More details on the ID.4 can be found at

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About half of U.S. adults support a proposal to phase out production of gasoline-powered cars and trucks. More than 80% of customers buying an ID.4 are trading in a gasoline powered vehicle. “More Americans are steering toward electrified vehicles and the industry has likely passed the point of peak gas-powered mobility” according to Michelle Krebs, executive analyst, Cox Automotive.

ID.4 can be compared to other BEVs such as the Ford Mustang Mach-e, Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt EV. Or, the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester or Toyota RAV4 are more conventionally powered if that suits your needs. No matter what, BEVs have become quite good with good driving range and faster recharging. At this point in time, if you can easily install a Level 2 charger at your residence, I would give the ID.4 serious consideration.

Happy motoring!

© 2021 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy