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2021 Volkswagen ID.4

Here's How Our 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Fared in Its First 5K Miles

My kingdom for physical buttons

  • We've driven the ID.4 nearly 5,000 miles in a few short months.
  • Issues with the controls and tech features can't be ignored.
  • On-road efficiency, thankfully, is a strong point.

Overshadowed. That's the best word to sum up our time in the Edmunds long-term Volkswagen ID.4. We've put nearly 5,000 miles on the ID.4 since adding it to our long-term fleet earlier this year (it was delivered to us with roughly 5,000 miles on the odometer) and, truthfully, there is a lot to like. For instance, it delivers a smooth driving experience, it's quite efficient in day-to-day driving, and our Pro model is loaded with features.

However, the positives have been overshadowed by poor usability across the board. The controls are tricky to operate, and our editors are frustrated by wonky smartphone integration. Sadly, the ID.4's tech execution is beginning to mar our impressions of an otherwise delightful EV.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4

Well, at least it's efficient!

First, the positives. The ID.4 has impressed with its excellent energy usage; our team has averaged 32.2 kWh per 100 miles of driving in our long-term vehicle, which is better than the EPA's estimate of 34 kWh/100 miles. The ID.4 is also burning through marginally less electricity, at 32.4 kWh, than our long-term single-motor Ford Mustang Mach-E. Our most efficient "fill" in the ID.4 registered 20.8 kWh per 100 miles on a charge, which far outpaces the best figure we've measured from the Mach-E at 25.6 kWh. (Remember, a lower number is better when talking about electricity consumption.)

As for total range, our ID.4 has gone up to 189 miles on a charge. To be frank, we haven't been shooting for max range so far. The EPA rates our specific model at 260 miles of max range, and in Edmunds' real-world EV range test, it achieved an impressive 288 miles. We'll continue to monitor range in typical daily driving and report back.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4

Feels good once it's going

You begin noticing the ID.4's pitfalls before you even leave your driveway. Simply putting the ID.4 into the proper "gear" is a little off-putting at first — you twist the stalk forward for drive and toward you for first — but this becomes second nature after living in the car for a little while. The issue is with our ID.4's drivetrain not always recognizing the shifter command. On two occasions, the vehicle started to move backward after an editor shifted into drive and saw the Drive indicator illuminated. We'll report this the next time we go to the dealer and see if there's a fix.

Shift issues aside, the ID.4 feels great once it's running. Our editors have reported a smooth ride, good around-town acceleration and easy operation. In our minds, this makes the ID.4 a strong choice for families — if they can get past numerous issues, that is.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4

Lots of hurdles to overcome

When we first got behind the wheel of the ID.4, we criticized it for the lack of knobs, switches and other physical controls. Instead this EV uses capacitive touch buttons that are prone to error, often failing to register your command. This has rung true in our long-term test vehicle as well. The buttons frequently fail to recognize your touch. And this isn't the only tech problem.

Apple CarPlay has suddenly cut out on multiple occasions, and it doesn't matter whether we use the wireless version or plug it in. When CarPlay fails, the only solution is to use Bluetooth connectivity or to shut off the ID.4 and hope a reboot works. CarPlay is far more usable than the native navigation and audio options, and we're disappointed to miss out on it.

When issues like these surface, you begin to notice other problems too. For instance, the ID.4 doesn't have a front trunk, or frunk, like the Mach-E and Tesla Model Y do. It isn't a deal-breaker, but since the ID.4 asks you to make so many additional sacrifices, a pleasant treat like a frunk sure would go a long way toward smoothing things over.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4

Edmunds says

The ID.4 is a popular EV among our test team for its pleasant drive. Unfortunately the small things are tripping it up. We'll continue to test and report on the experience of living with the ID.4 day to day.