Driven: 2022 Volkswagen ID.4 Is Fiercely Average In Every Way

Test Drive / 5 Comments

It does nothing wrong, it just doesn't excel in any areas (apart from price).

The move to electric cars is the start of a new era Volkswagen desperately needs. The ID.4 is the first mainstream crossover offering from the German automaker as it starts to seek dominance in the emerging EV market. The ID.4 is available with a 201-horsepower rear-wheel-drive powertrain or a 295-hp all-wheel-drive powertrain and goes up against segment rivals like the Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Ioniq 5, and the segment stalwart, the Tesla Model Y.

However, the ID.4 doesn't have the sportiness of the Mustang Mach-E, the technological punch and futuristic styling of the Ioniq 5, or the range availability of the Model Y. Volkswagen has to compete with the ID.4 on its own terms, which at first glance appears to be its attractive price with a roomy and premium-feeling interior.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

The Non-Stand Out Electric Crossover

Volkswagen may be one of the best-selling brands worldwide, despite its recent habit of turning out bland cars. Unfortunately, the ID.4 follows the trend by somehow managing to be both sophisticated and boring at the same time.

The result is an electric vehicle that fades into anonymity in city traffic, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Not everyone wants eyes staring at them at the traffic lights, which is exactly what you'll get when driving a Hyundai Ioniq 5 until (or if) they become commonplace. The Mustang Mach-E also avoids the EV overstatement in styling while looking good while the Model Y is showing its age and become as basic looking as a white last-generation Camry on a used car lot.

VW needs to do something to make the ID.4 stand out a little more, though. Perhaps bringing the GTX - which by VW's own admission is more of a styling package akin to R-Line than it is a performance trim - to the US would give the crossover the attitude it deserves.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

Improved Powertrain Still Has Flaws

The ID.4 we've been exposed to the most comes with an 82 kWh hour battery with DC fast-charging speed now up from 125 kW to 135 kW. The Pro trim model is capable of charging up to 170kW DC. The range for the rear-wheel-drive version is now 275 miles (a 15-mile increase) on a full charge, while the all-wheel-drive model is capable of 251 miles, which is just two more miles than before. But for 2023, you'll also be able to buy a new Standard model with a 62 kWh battery and a 208-mile claimed range.

However, it's worth remembering it's not recommended to charge EV batteries beyond 80 percent often.

RWD models come with 201 hp, which is enough for it to get out of its own way, while the AWD version has 295 hp, which still doesn't transform the ID.4 into a remarkably quick EV. The drivetrain is mostly smooth, and while there's no one-pedal-driving option available, the regen from the brakes is strong.

We call the drivetrain "mostly smooth" because occasionally, when coming to a halt, we could feel a clunk from the brakes as they transitioned from regen to friction braking on our AWD Pro test car.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

An All-Volkswagen Interior

We get the feeling Volkswagen's interior design team enjoyed the opportunity to take its minimalist ethos to a new level with an EV. The lack of a transmission tunnel and drive selector down the middle pays off, giving a large, useable, and uncluttered storage area.

The drive control is a large twist switch up on the right of the dash gauge, and the minimalist dash gauge is fixed to the steering wheel, so it adjusts with it. The arrangement works well with the dash display always visible and the twist-switch being simple to use once you know the format. There is a stop/start button, but it's hidden to a degree by being placed on the steering column where it isn't obvious. That keeps it out of the way, which is good as it's largely unnecessary.

Getting in the car and putting your foot on the brake fires the ID.4 up, then putting it in Park and leaving the driver's seat turns it off again. That arrangement isn't a new idea, but it is well implemented.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

The front seats are comfortable, but even in the more upmarket Pro trim ID.4, the seats are cloth and aren't fully power-adjustable. However, there's plenty of room, and the styling is modern yet understated, while the build quality feels solid. The touchpoints are soft in all the right places, and the back is remarkably roomy with plenty of space for adults.

The only criticism comes with the infotainment system and display, which isn't immediately intuitive, and Volkswagen clearly didn't get the memo about knobs. There are no volume knobs, just two discrete buttons in the center under the screen, and anything but adjusting the temperature is done from the touchscreen.

What we would have liked is a front trunk to increase the ID.4's utility and cargo space. There is plenty of room behind the seats, though, at 30.3 cubic feet. What we are less than impressed with is a lack of a spare tire. Instead, there's just a rescue kit for a puncture, and that's just not good enough.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

An Adequate Driving Experience

There's nothing to love or hate about driving the ID.4 on the road, but what it's missing is any degree of fun.

The all-wheel-drive model is more purposeful about accelerating while the steering is on the numb side but precise enough. The suspension is firmly damped and helps the ID.4's chassis stay flat around bends while yielding to road imperfections enough to be comfortable. There's no invasive road noise, and cruising along in the ID.4 is a reasonably pleasant experience.

There are several driving modes available, including an Eco mode that reduces throttle response to help save on energy use. Then, toggling the drive selector a second time takes you from B to D and makes the off-throttle brake regeneration stronger. It doesn't quite give you a one-pedal driving experience, but it's close enough and shouldn't throw anyone driving an EV for the first time.

If you enjoy driving, though, the ID.4 is dynamically bland and feels its weight. If driving dynamics are of no consequence to you, the ID.4 ticks all the boxes regarding comfort just fine.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

Verdict: Excellent Price, Questionable Package

As an overall package and factoring in the price, the Volkswagen ID.4 is a winner as a family vehicle. We would like to have seen a front trunk, but that's not a dealbreaker. The lack of a spare tire and the less-than-ideal infotainment are the only real strikes against the ID.4 we can find, but are important ones for a family crossover. Putting it up against the competition, the Mustang Mach-E offers more fun to drive and a base-model range of 260 miles, but not as comfortable in the back. That's around $2,000 more expensive, making the Ioniq 5 a better comparison with similar range and a worthwhile vehicle to cross-shop with the ID.4. Tesla's model way blows everything away with its base 300+ miles of range, but at $65,990 to get into, well, it's almost $20,000 more expensive and build quality is questionable at the price.

Still, with a starting price of $41,230 before any available incentives or tax credits are applied, the ID.4 is a compelling product for someone wanting a plug-in electric family crossover. In that sense, Volkswagen has knocked the ID.4 out of the park. Volkswagen offers three years of 30-minute fast charging sessions with Electrify America included at no additional cost.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

From next year it'll be even cheaper thanks to the new base model starting at $37,495 before tax credits, effectively bringing the price to below $30k.

That base model wouldn't be our pick, though, as the 208-mile range is just a little lower than the sweet spot of total range for family life. We would rather take the extra range of the larger battery with the single-motor RWD powertrain and forego the heated front screen and trailer hitch found on the AWD model. Of course, if you live somewhere with severe weather, that's where the all-wheel-drive model will come into its own, but at the cost of range.

The real debate is whether to update to the Pro S trim for $45,730 before applying for any available credits. A panoramic sunroof, illuminated front light bar, LED projector headlamps, a hands-free power liftgate, ambient lighting, and leatherette seats with additional power adjustment are nice to have, and the 12-inch infotainment looks great, but we're not sure those are really worth the upshot.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

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