2021 Volkswagen ID.4 front driving

Volkswagen’s first-ever “long range” electric vehicle for the U.S. has officially gone on sale through online reservations, with the first models set to arrive at dealers in early 2021. The ID.4 compact SUV has an estimated driving range of 250 miles on a full charge. Pricing will start at $39,995, and the ID.4 will be eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit that is available for EVs and some plug-in hybrids. A limited-run of ID.4 1st Editions can be ordered now (manufacturer’s suggested retail price: $43,995) for delivery early next year.  

At 181 inches long, the two-row, five-passenger ID.4 is smaller than the Volkswagen Tiguan SUV. Initially the ID.4 will come only as a rear-wheel-drive model with 201 hp, but a 302-hp version with all-wheel drive will be available later in 2021.  

More EV Previews

For now, the ID.4 will be built at Volkswagen’s factory in Zwickau, Germany, but in 2022 all ID.4s for the U.S. market will be produced at the carmaker’s assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. At that point, Volkswagen says, it plans to offer a version of the ID.4 that will cost “around $35,000,” owing to the lack of import duties and transatlantic shipping costs, plus a smaller battery, according to Mark Gillies, Volkswagen of America’s product and technology manager. Here is what we know so far.

What it competes with: Chevrolet Bolt, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia Niro EV, Polestar 2, Tesla Model Y, Volvo XC40 Recharge
What it looks like: Like a chopped-roof, angular version of Volkswagen’s Tiguan SUV, or like a cross between an SUV and a sports sedan
Powertrain: 201 hp from a single electric motor, 302 hp from two electric motors (AWD); 1-speed direct drive; rear- or all-wheel drive
Price: $39,995 to $43,695
Destination charge: $1,195

CR’s Take

As a compact SUV, the ID.4 will be entering the most popular segment in the U.S., and it could be well-poised to capture buyers who are ready to take the “electric plunge” without being forced to first test the waters on a more expensive, luxury model.

With a 250-mile estimated driving range and a relatively affordable starting price, the ID.4 looks ready to challenge other sporty SUVs, such as the Tesla Model Y and the upcoming Ford Mustang Mach-E. It also won’t hurt the ID.4’s case on the showroom floor that it comes with three years of free fast-charging through the Electrify America network of charging stations. 

Volkswagen claims the ID.4 “drives like a GTI, has the interior room of a Tiguan and the purpose of the Beetle,” according to a press release. We’ll tell you just how good the ID.4 really is after we purchase one of our own for CR’s auto-test program, as soon as we can get our hands on one.

Outside

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 driving from the side

At 181 inches long, the ID.4 is almost 5 inches shorter than the Tiguan, Volkswagen’s gas-powered compact SUV. The ID.4’s sleeker styling is exemplified by its 2-inch-lower roof height vs. the Tiguan, which is one of the largest models in the compact-SUV segment. 

The ID.4’s front end isn’t as smooth and uncluttered as that of some EVs, such as the Tesla Model Y. Volkswagen’s designers even included what appear to be purely decorative “air intakes” on the outer edges of the front end, along with a prominent honeycomb lower air dam element. Its sleek styling may be the true definition of a crossover, though, because its sloping roofline makes it look like the melding of a low-slung sports sedan with an upright SUV.

Inside

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 interior

The ID.4 is a two-row, five-passenger vehicle. Volkswagen says passenger volume is similar to the Tiguan’s, in spite of its smaller footprint. We’ll be keen to find out how much the ID.4’s lower roofline affects headroom, especially for passengers in the rear seat.

The seats remind us of current Volkswagens, with fairly plain tailoring front and rear. Lower models will have cloth upholstery, while versions with the optional Statement package will get synthetic leather. The ID.4 comes standard with six-way adjustable front seats with power recline, while the Statement package has 12-way power seats with massage. Standard comfort and convenience items include dual-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel, heated side mirrors, and rain-sensing wipers, as well as a heated windshield on all-wheel-drive models.

The 10-inch infotainment screen on the center of the dashboard looks like a small laptop that has been opened and angled slightly toward the driver. Through the screen the driver can access the standard navigation system, telematics, entertainment options, driver assistance, and vehicle settings. Onscreen menus can be moved by gesture control—just swipe your hand in front of the screen. Audio volume and temperature controls are adjusted via sliders just below the display screen.  

Directly in front of the driver is a 5.3-inch digital display. It looks more like a small screen that has been placed on top of the dashboard, rather than a traditional instrument cluster with a shroud and recessed gauges and readouts. It will be interesting to see how this screen handles direct-sunlight situations. The digital driver’s display functions are controlled by switches and buttons on the steering wheel.  

Instead of a traditional gear selector, the ID.4 uses a rocker switch on the right side of the digital driver display.

What Drives It

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 cutaway

The ID.4 is based on Volkswagen’s newest platform, a modular electric drive architecture known as MEB. The electric motor is located at the rear of the vehicle—just like the original Beetle from decades ago, the carmaker says. The 82-kilowatt-hour battery is located in the underbody of the car to help give the ID.4 a low center of gravity. 

Rear-wheel-drive versions will have a 201-hp electric motor, while all-wheel-drive models—which will arrive later in 2021—will produce 302 hp. Volkswagen estimates that the RWD models will be capable of a 250-mile driving range on the Environmental Protection Agency test cycle with a fully charged battery. 

Volkswagen says the ID.4 takes about 7½ hours to charge at home or on a public Level 2 (240-volt) charger, but it can go from 5 percent to 80 percent charged in “about 38 minutes” at a DC fast-charging station, according to the automaker.

Safety and Driver Assist Systems

All ID.4s will come standard with a suite of driver assistance systems called IQ.Drive. This suite, which debuts on the ID.4, includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic warning, lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 top rear