- Comfortable ride and seats
- Easy to drive
- Roomy rear seating
- Annoying vehicle control quirks
- Rear drum brakes
- No frunk
The Volkswagen ID4 is the vanguard vehicle for the German automaker’s accelerated electrification push in the U.S., and based on what we experienced during our SUV of the Year evaluation, those efforts are off to a fine start. For the ID4 to make it to the finalist round spoke to how much its overall package impressed the judges.
The ID4 didn’t blow us away in any one area of our criteria, but it performed well in several, earning high marks for its easy-driving nature, comfortable seating, and overall cabin room. The quicker, dual-motor AWD model wasn’t ready in time for our event, but the rear-motor—and thus rear-wheel-drive—ID4 Pro and Pro S models we had on hand had enough juice to do everything we asked of them.
There wasn’t a lot of complaining about range or price. At about 250 miles to a charge, the ID4 has enough energy on board for most folks’ daily grind, so long as you can plug in every night or so. It’s also priced competitively at $41,190 to start. (Our test vehicles cost in the mid-40s.) That said, some judges wondered whether the interior materials were up to snuff for that much dough.
On the paved loops at the Honda Proving Ground, judges were impressed by the ID4’s steering and overall road feel. It showed VW’s usual verve and chassis balance in handling evaluations and generally managed road imperfections and other challenges without much fuss. But when asked to do real SUV-type things off-pavement, the ID4 did stumble some. This isn’t the type of vehicle that loves getting down and dirty—it’s far more of a mall runner than an overlander.
Indeed, we found the ID4 to be at its best on highways and byways, where editors lauded its pleasant demeanor. “Overall, this is a really fun car to drive,” Detroit editor Alisa Priddle said. “I liked it even more on the public road loop than at the proving ground.” Some reported a fair amount of cabin noise at speed, but it never rose to a level of annoyance, and such noise comes with the territory in today’s EVs—especially at the affordable end of the spectrum—which can’t use the noise and vibrations of an internal combustion engine as a salve.
We didn’t love some of the ID4’s controls and switchgear, with the window controls drawing a significant amount of fire. All four windows are actuated by just two switches, and it’s the kind of function that’s quirky in all the wrong ways. There were also gripes levied against a few of the touchscreen controls, most notably those handling the climate control. Other demerits centered around the ID4’s rear drum brakes (not something we see much anymore, even on the cheapest cars) and the lack of a frunk, which most EVs have.
Despite its flaws, the ID4 is an impressive SUV and a livable, lively, and highly functional vehicle that also happens to be electric. It just didn’t deliver excellence in enough areas to push it to the top.
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