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Software Update Improves Our Long-Term 2021 Volkswagen ID.4

We test out our ID.4's new features and improved infotainment

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 tront
  • We updated our Volkswagen ID.4 infotainment software to version 3.1.0.
  • It reduces infotainment glitches and adds a few new features.
  • Our Volkswagen ID.4 is part of our long-term test program.

The Volkswagen ID.4 is the automaker's first U.S.-bound vehicle designed from the ground up to be an electric vehicle. The small electric SUV debuted for 2021, and we felt it was so significant, we quickly added a 2021 ID.4 to our long-term test fleet. Back in January, we were able to get an update installed to our ID.4 that VW said would make some improvements.

This is version 3.1.0 that VW is applying to 2021 ID.4s plus select 2022 models. It's a dealer-installed update rather than an over-the-air update. According to VW, the update adds: 1) enhanced ability to search for Electrify America charging stations and plan routes using those stations using the onboard navigation system; 2) an auto-hold braking function; 3) more information displayed in the driver's instrument panel; and 4) "minor bug fixes."

I drove our ID.4 for a couple of weeks to see how much of a difference these updates made. Here's my report on each.

Yep, some bugs have been fixed

Volkswagen wrote an entire press release about the 3.1.0 update, and near the end of the release, almost as a throwaway statement, is this: "Also included in the upgrade are minor bug fixes, along with security improvements." It's amusing to me because this is actually the most significant thing about the whole update. It'd be like Bruce Wayne issuing a press release about Wayne Enterprises' financials and then, at the very end, closing with, "Oh, also, I'm Batman."

Volkswagen didn't explain what those bug fixes were, but it's apparent that they relate to the infotainment system. Take a look at our coverage of our ID.4 and you'll find plenty of negative commentary about the touchscreen and, specifically, the infotainment system's buggy wireless smartphone integration (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). It was so bad and broken that it was effectively unusable.

Pleasingly, the touchscreen system is better now. Plugging in my iPhone now consistently brings up the CarPlay interface, for instance. But it's still too slow to boot up in my opinion, taking at times upwards of 30 seconds from when you first get into the car to when CarPlay finally loads.

I also noticed that Volkswagen adjusted the activation for the lane keeping system. Before, it would automatically turn on when you started the car, even if you had turned it off previously. I didn't like the way the system worked so I had a ritual of going through the touchscreen's menu to turn it off before I even started driving. Now it stays off when you turn it off. Win!

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2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Infotainment

Electrify America station search still isn't great

Our ID.4's navigation system may very well have improved search and routing functionality for Electrify America stations. But I really don't know because I still find the navigation system's charging station search function to be cumbersome to use and generally unhelpful no matter what brand of charging you're searching for. Using apps on my phone to find charging stations is still easier and more effective.

Auto brake hold is OK

This new feature allows you to take your foot off the brake once you're at a complete stop, like at a stoplight. The ID.4 will then keep the brakes engaged until you press on the accelerator pedal. It's a nice convenience but still not full one-pedal driving, unfortunately. Many other EVs will come to a complete stop after deceleration and then hold the brakes without you needing to press the brake pedal. The ID.4 has a decent rate of deceleration when lifting off the accelerator but you still have to press on the ID.4's brake pedal to completely stop. Otherwise, it will just slowly creep forward at around 2 mph.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Driver Display

More in the driver instrument display

The instrument display has a few more tidbits of information on it than it did before. There's now a percentage number to go along with the icon that shows the battery's charge and range, for instance. But it's pretty minor stuff. I wouldn't have known it changed had I not read VW's press release, honestly.

Edmunds says

Our long-term 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is more enjoyable to drive after receiving its software update. Maybe the bar was easy to clear considering how miserable the smartphone integration system was before, but at least it (mostly) works like it should. Hopefully, VW will add full one-pedal driving as part of a future update.