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2021 Volkswagen ID.4 front 3/4

Why Does the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Want Me to Hate It?

Why is this thing so infuriating???

  • Overall, the Edmunds editors really like the Volkswagen ID.4.
  • It does, however, have a lot of issues.
  • Here are the things that irked me after weeks of driving it.

After driving the long-term Corvette for many months, I switched into its polar opposite in our long-term fleet – the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4. As a GTI MkVI owner, I feel like somewhere deep down in my lizard brain, I'm predisposed to like Volkswagens. But no amount of bias can make me really connect with the ID.4. Considering all the missteps VW made with the ID.4, it's a) hard to believe these two cars were made by the same company and b) feels like VW is actively trying to make me hate its first long-range EV.

Here are the things that bother me on an almost daily basis.

Indicated range is unreliable

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 instrument panel

Our ID.4 is the base Pro model, and its lack of weight-adding features and single-motor powertrain means it's the most efficient of the range. The EPA says our Pro will return a robust 260 miles on a full charge. But we keep our battery ceiling at 80% for driving around town in the interest of extending the life of the lithium-ion battery pack. Theoretically, that gives us a max range of 208 miles. However, that's not what the estimated range shows on a "full" charge.

Since I've had the ID.4 in my garage, these are the distance-to-empty (DTE) readouts immediately after unplugging it at 80% charge: 265 miles, 258 miles, 268 miles and 246 miles. The reason these figures are different is likely because the ID.4 recalculates DTE based on your driving style.

As you can see, these numbers are all much higher than what it should get on 80% charge. But the real-world results are equally untethered from the estimated range that the vehicle displays. Here are those results:

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Indicated vs. Actual Range

26515229181-84
25865132197-61
26817525200-68
24612758185-61

As you can see, the difference between estimated range on plug-out and actual distance driven (plus estimated remaining range) showed the ID.4 overestimating range by at least 60 miles. Unless the ID.4 is initially taking into account a buffer past the 0 miles DTE mark, we can't explain why there's such a vast gulf between observed and estimated range.

The touchscreen interface really is that bad

One of our staff's major complaints with the ID.4 has been the touchscreen interface. "How could it be?" I thought. I'm pretty computer-savvy, and I love Volkswagen's previous system — though ugly, it's quite intuitive.

Readers, the ID.4's new interface is abhorrent, with issues both intentional and random. Speaking to the former, it takes multiple presses of both the capacitive button on the dash and virtual menu-hunting to alter the climate system's fan settings, and the radio menus are confounding. Without getting too granular, switching between stations is clumsy. When reversing, turning the parking sensor alert off also gets rid of the rear camera image. Who thought that was a good idea? And there are too many glitches to count, many of them phone-related. I've given up on connecting my phone to the car via a data cable. If I need to charge my phone, I use the rear USB-C charge-only ports rather than the data ports, because doing so wreaks havoc with Apple CarPlay and often renders it unusable. Also, on more than one occasion, the ID.4 simply didn't display satellite radio as a music source. One of the buggiest touchscreens I've ever seen.

Human-machine interface issues abound

I've already covered the confusing climate system interaction, and others have noted how silly the window switches are (as a refresher, there are only two switches — left and right — and you press a button to toggle between front and rear window operation).

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 detail

I've also found that the wiper stalk is positioned oddly close to the transmission selector, so even seasoned drivers will hit the stalk unintentionally. That means you'll inadvertently drag front and rear wipers against bone-dry windows. A lot.

The dome lights don't always illuminate when you open the door

I like that the ID.4 comes standard with configurable ambient lighting. I don't like that the dome lights don't always illuminate when you enter the car. I have found that they usually illuminate when you exit the car, but there's often only ambient lighting when you get in. Occasionally the dome lights will brighten the interior when getting in, but it's not every time. And, yes, I have checked to make sure that the dome-lights-off-when-doors-are-opened switch is disabled. As far as I can tell, the ID.4's dome light logic is working as intended.

There's no rear armrest

We ordered the base Pro model, which means it naturally doesn't have all the features of the whiz-bang Pro S. Fine. But to not include a rear armrest in a $40,000 vehicle that Volkswagen calls "an SUV through and through" is ludicrous. Other than cutouts in the doors, there aren't any rear cupholders either. If I had purchased a Pro without carefully studying the list of standard and optional features, I would have definitely walked away disappointed by the lack of actual utility.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 interior rear

Edmunds says

There are a lot of things I like, and even love, about the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4, and I'll cover those in the future. But it also has enough drawbacks that may cause potential buyers to reconsider their purchase.