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2021 Volkswagen ID.4: What's It Like to Live With?

We learned a lot about the electric Volkswagen ID.4 over the past 12 months and almost 15,000 miles.

Volkswagen ID.4 2021
OdometerAverage Lifetime Electricity Consumption (kWh)
14,25435.1

Latest Highlights

  • Our test is complete after almost 15,000 miles
  • We're not thrilled with the tech interface of our ID.4
  • You can read about that in our Technology section
  • Check out our Miscellaneous section for odds and ends about the ID.4


What We Bought And Why

by Carrie Kim, creative services project manager

Our test vehicle: 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro RWD
Base MSRP: $39,995
MSRP as tested: $41,190

The future is now, and electric vehicles are here for the masses. Mainstream automakers are introducing EVs at a rapid pace, and startup EV brands are getting serious. Volkswagen is no exception — the VW ID.4 went on sale last year, and the brand has also announced that the ID. Buzz, Volkswagen's retro-inspired electrified microbus, will arrive in the U.S. in 2024.

Different from the e-Golf, the ID.4 is Volkswagen's first dedicated electric vehicle for the U.S. market. This spacious electric SUV offers a roomy, modern interior and EPA-estimated range of 240-260 miles per charge depending on the trim level. Additionally, Volkswagen offers three years of free unlimited charging to 2021 VW ID.4 owners at Electrify America DC fast chargers. For now, this offer is only for 2021 model year vehicles. And with its starting price of just under $40K (before federal and state tax incentives), we think the ID.4 offers quite a compelling value.

The ID.4 may look like a lifted hatchback compared to the Tiguan, Volkswagen's compact SUV. But despite its smaller footprint, the ID.4 offers almost equal interior space. The two-row five-seater also scored a rating of 8.2/10 during Edmunds' vehicle testing process.

What Did We Get?

As we mentioned in our 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 review, we back the base Pro trim level, so now we've got our hands on one. Our 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro's long list of standard equipment and high-tech features doesn't leave much for us to miss. We did, however, take a pass on the all-wheel drive and selected the single-motor, rear-wheel-drive powertrain.

The ID.4 Pro's 82-kWh lithium-ion battery pack produces output of 201 horsepower and has an EPA-estimated range of 260 miles per charge. In our experience so far, we've seen the ID.4 stretch that to as far as 288 miles in Edmunds' real-world electric vehicle range testing. So we are expecting good things from this ID.4 also. When it comes to charging, VW says the ID.4 can charge from 5% to 80% in about 38 minutes at a public DC fast-charging station (125 kW charging). And with the ID.4's 11-kW onboard charger on Level 2 current, the ID.4 can charge to full in as little as seven and a half hours. We'll test all of these claims during our year with the e-Volkswagen.

The base ID.4 Pro comes equipped with Volkswagen's standard suite of driver-assist safety features, including adaptive cruise control with stop & go, lane keeping assist, and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring. Also standard, the interior features a digital cockpit housing all gauges and driver information, plus an additional 10-inch touchscreen display with wireless smartphone integration and charging. Standard multi-color ambient lighting, dual-zone climate controls, and advanced keyless access to the front doors and liftgate are additional creature comforts that elevate the overall experience in this EV. We can't wait to try them all.

Why Did We Get It?

Edmunds maintains a goal to be the leading source of EV news and real-world testing. We've owned several — Tesla's Model 3, Model X, Model S, a Chevy Bolt, a BMW i3 and a Hyundai Kona EV among them — and now it's time for a Volkswagen. We are also about to add a Mustang Mach-E to the fleet and have other EVs on order. Because the ID.4 is coming from a well-known brand with an attainable price tag, we anticipate it to be a very popular EV. With a shocking number of new competitors being introduced, expect us to compare our ID.4 heavily to the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 and upcoming Nissan Ariya and Toyota bZ4X.

What Did We Learn?

Our ID.4 had many strong points. Toward the end of our ownership, we were averaging 35.1 kWh per 100 miles compared to the EPA's estimate of 34 kWh/100 miles. We surpassed the EPA's 260-mile max range in Edmunds' real-world EV range test with 288 miles. We felt our ID.4 was generally economical. But when you consider some competitors deliver over 300 miles of range and are slightly more efficient, it does not look as impressive. Nonetheless, our ID.4 was a pleasing daily driver and the key here is what you get for the money. In no way was the ID.4 quick like our Tesla Model Y or Ford Mustang Mach-E, but it performed surprisingly well and had a nimble quality that made for a little fun. The ride was smooth, and there was sufficient power to get in and out of traffic without any stress.

And then there's the tech. We just couldn't get past the pesky technology in our ID.4. To begin with, the capacitive touch buttons were problematic. We found ourselves having to touch these buttons several times in order to have the system register our commands. We also ran across connectivity issues both wirelessly and while plugged-in. Our ID.4 came standard with wireless smartphone integration but that nice feature was overshadowed by how poorly it performed as we lost connectivity several times. An update toward the end of our loan improved the system but didn't really straighten out all of its flaws. Before the update, we felt the technology and user interface in our ID.4 were subpar.

What's the Bottom Line?

Tech issues plagued our test prior to the major update. And capacitive touch buttons will never be our favorite. Those elements cast a shadow on an otherwise enjoyable day-to-day driving experience. Hatchback convenience, accessible EV range and even a little EV pep were highlights. Given the price point at the time of our test, the ID.4 is worth consideration.

The manufacturer provided this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.


2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Real-World Range

We expect this single-motor, RWD drive car to perform better than the AWDs we've tested

Average lifetime consumption (kWh/100 miles): 34.8
EPA rating (kWh/100 miles): 34 combined ( 31 City / 37 Highway )
Best consumption (kWh/100 miles): 29.3
Best range (miles): 288.0
Current odometer: 14,704

We averaged just about 100 miles between fills during normal driving. This didn't really do the ID.4 justice. So it was important that we drove the VW on the Edmunds EV range loop to give the car the credit it deserves. On our route, we drove the car from fully charged to just about 10 miles remaining. This garnered our best distance of 288 miles and electric consumption of 29.3 kWh/100 miles. That is better than the EPA projections of 260 miles and 34 kWh/100 miles.

What are your thoughts on the ID.4's range?

"In a word, unremarkable. I'm writing this in late February, 2023, and at this time our best range is 189 miles. That range figure is perhaps misleading, as our ID.4 is certainly capable of going further. No one on our team has attempted to go the maximum distance, that's all. In Edmunds' official range test, the single motor ID.4 like our long-termer went 288 miles from a full charge. (That's better than the official EPA of 260 miles.) My personal take is that our ID.4 has a satisfying amount of range but it takes more than 300 miles to really stand out in today's EV marketplace." — Brent Romans, senior manager, written content

And what about efficiency?

"Pretty much the same. Our average lifetime efficiency stands at 34.4 kWh used per 100 miles of driving. (Again, I'm writing in February 2023. What you see in the above stat box might vary slightly as we continue to drive our ID.4.) That's OK but some other EVs we've tested in our long-term program have been more efficient, such as our 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E (32.6) and 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric (25.9). Remember with EVs, the lower the kWh figure, the better for reducing how much you'll pay to drive, just like having a higher mpg figure for a gas-powered car. Considering that our ID.4 is the single motor version and not particularly powerful, I'd expect better efficiency." — Brent Romans, senior manager, written content


2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Maintenance

Maintenance on an electric vehicle should be a snap, but we'll keep tabs on anything that comes up with our ID.4 right here.

Maintenance Summary

Total routine maintenance costs  
Additional maintenance costs $998.46
Warranty repairs  
Non-warranty repairs 1
Scheduled dealer visits 1
Unscheduled dealer visits  
Days out of service  
Breakdowns stranding driver  
Total body repair costs  

We had to take care of a cracked windshield

"A rock struck the ID.4's front windshield on my way into work. It caused a thin crack on the lower left side. The crack was initially 3-4 inches wide, but nearly doubled as I continued to drive. We're going to have to park it for safety until we can get it fixed. Stay tuned to see what the replacement costs will be." — Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor

"Recently, our ID.4 was hit by a rock while driving down the road. The small rock flew directly to our windshield, which created a chip. Within a few days that chip grew into a crack that extended from the side of the windshield to nearly the center. We made an appointment online with Safelite in Inglewood and took our VW for a windshield replacement. I dropped off the vehicle early morning and was told it would be ready by the end of day but they actually completed the replacement within four hours. The total cost for the new windshield and labor, including recalibration, was $998.46." — Albert Hernandez, editorial assistant

Our first scheduled maintenance visit is in the books!

The "take a long-term vehicle in for service" spinner landed on Manager, News, Cameron Rogers, coinciding with our ID.4's first major service. It turns out, it was not that major.

"It happened again! For the "second time in a row," I grabbed the keys to a long-term car to be immediately greeted by a Service Now notification. With roughly 9,500 miles on the odometer, that meant that ID.4 was due for its first 10,000-mile service. I promptly made a service appointment with my local VW dealer.

"Because the ID.4 is an electric vehicle — and thus lacks many of the fluids that need to be routinely changed in vehicles powered by internal combustion — the two scheduled services generally amount to a series of inspections.

"The services at odd-numbered intervals (10,000, 30,000, etc (and yes, I know that these are technically even numbers)) are significantly less intensive than the ones at the 20,000, 40,000 etc intervals.

"I dropped off the ID.4 at my scheduled appointment time and was told the service would take 30 minutes to complete. In totality, the service consisted of: checking the functionality of the 12-volt battery, using the onboard Vehicle Diagnostic Tester to check for faults, checking and inflating tires to the correct spec, and resetting the service notification. I also requested that the service techs check for any updates to the infotainment system, in the hopes that VW had released a patch to clear any of the interface's most annoying behaviors.

"Despite the promised time frame and lack of infotainment updates (boooo!), the service took nearly an hour and a half to complete. VW's Carefree Coverage program includes complimentary maintenance for the first two scheduled visits, so this 10,000-mile service cost nothing out of pocket."

Two small, and easy, maintenance issues

I had to deal with a couple of minor maintenance issues with our ID.4, both at around 10,000 miles. First up: a punctured tire by way of a rather sizable screw. Thankfully, it kept a pretty tight seal once stuck in the tire so the pressure loss was slow enough that I could schedule a tire repair rather than having to drop everything to get it taken care of. I went to a local tire shop and got it repaired for $30. Easy peasy.

Next: A warning popped up in the ID.4's driver display notifying me that the key fob's battery was low. I didn't want to risk having to deal with a dead fob while out on the road so I replaced it pronto. The ID.4's owner's manual shows how to pop open the fob's case to get access to the battery. I also happened to have the key fob's battery type in my stock of batteries, which is a CR2032. Looking on Amazon, these things cost about $2 each. Again, easy peasy. — Brent Romans, senior manager, written content


2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Performance

How does it drive? How much of a difference is there between the two-wheel and all-wheel drive versions? Is it too slow? These are just a few of the things we plan to find out about the ID.4 over the next year.

Let's get right to it. How does the ID.4 drive?

One Edmunds staffer spent several days in the Volkswagen following back-to-back drives of a few other EVs from our long-term test car garage. They reflected, "When I compare the ID.4 to other EVs in our garage, namely the Mach-E and Model Y, it doesn't jump out as the best right away. There is no frunk. It has a small center screen. The user interface is challenging. It's slow. You'd think I consider this the least desirable of the three, but no. I rank the ID.4 on top because of its performance.

"You see, I drive the VW and it just feels right. The acceleration curve is smooth, the suspension does a good job absorbing bumps, it feels well built, and together these qualities help my gripes fade away. Sure, having cool tech is great. A giant screen like the Tesla Model Y's, which shows its surroundings using animation is neat. But in the end, for me, and I think most people, the important connection is how the car drives. The ID.4 does this well. In fact, I couldn't help but think that it felt like I was in a German luxury car. The cabin was rattle-free and quiet and driving down the road felt substantial. The giant screens, cool tech and whiplash speed are cool and fun to show your friends. For me, a great driving car trumps all these things in the long run."

How is the ID.4 during everyday driving around town?

Editorial assistant, Jake Sundstrom drove the Volkswagen all last week. He recounted from one afternoon of driving the car, "The steering-column-mounted shifter is already a quirky feature of the ID.4, and it gets quirkier still when it can't quite find the correct 'gear' while backing out of a parking space. The ID.4 has twice failed to go from reverse to drive despite the HUD displaying drive. That isn't ideal when trying to maneuver the ever-impatient hordes hovering inside Southern California parking lots.

"Is it possible the shifter is being twisted just enough to change the indicator light but not enough for the car to register a 'gear is being changed? Going backward when you're prepared to go forward is a disconcerting feeling — I don't recommend it."

"I don't remember having this weird roll-back in any of the previous ID.4's that we have tested. I put it in both forward drive modes (D and B) and it slightly rolls back whenever I take my foot off the brake." — Rex Tokeshi-Torres, vehicle test technician

"Making a U-turn is no problem in our ID.4. It's shockingly easy, in fact. I've noticed our ID.4's nimbleness as part of my daily school dropoff run for my kids. There's a U-turn for part of it, and on that U-turn the ID.4 zips right around, leaving plenty of road to spare. My observation seems to be backed by data, too: the ID.4 has a tidy turning circle of 31.5 feet. For comparison purposes, a Tesla Model Y (39.8 feet) or Toyota RAV4 (36.1) both require more room for their 180s." — Brent Romans, senior editor, written content


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2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Interior

This is where you'll spend most of your quality time with the ID.4, so, how is it?

How many buttons can you find in the Volkswagen ID.4?

Senior Consumer Advice Editor Ron Montoya takes note of the lack of physical buttons inside the ID.4's cabin.

"I think VW's designers must've had a challenge to make a car with the least amount of buttons. Nearly everything that operates a feature is some form of haptic touch button (as seen on the steering wheel), resistive touch buttons for the lighting, climate controls and side mirror selector. There's even a virtual button that lets you alternate between the front or rear windows. The center touchscreen is capacitive touch, just like a smartphone, but no physical buttons there either. The temperature control is a horizontal touch surface that you have to tap to make adjustments. It doesn't illuminate, so good luck with that at night.

"The only physical buttons I could spot were the window switches and the park button on the shifter. If you have a high trim level, however, there would be buttons for the panoramic roof shade and on the power seats' memory function.

"I enjoy driving the ID.4, but this would be a dealbreaker for me if I wanted to purchase one."


2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Utility

How's the ID.4 set up as a utility vehicle?

Keep this in mind if you're thinking about skipping the power liftgate

"Our Pro trim just has the regular, non-power liftgate, and I've noticed that it's a bit heavy and hard to pull down. I personally don't mind it that much, but it's occurred to me that people of shorter stature or limited mobility/strength might find it hard to pull down. If that's you, consider buying the the ID.4 Pro S trim, which gets a power-operated liftgate." — Brent Romans, senior editor, written content


2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Miscellaneous

If we're not sure where it goes, it goes here. Keep the comments company, please.

What do we think about the look of the ID.4?

"I've seen a few other ID.4s driving around and I have to say this electric VW looks better in person than in photos. The styling is distinctive enough to stand out from most other regular SUVs, but not so much that it's goofy or weird. It's got a sporty vibe to it that I like." — Brent Romans, senior editor, written content

A Case for the Standard Trim

Senior Editor Clint Simone gives his thoughts on how the new ID.4 Standard Trim compares to our long term test vehicle.

"I was fortunate enough to drive the new 2023 Volkswagen ID.4 a short while ago. I drove it back to back with our long-termer and here's what I learned.

"The biggest news for the 2023 model year is the addition of a new entry-level Standard model with a 62-kilowatt-hour battery pack. For context, our ID.4 Pro has the larger 82 kWh pack and costs $42,345. Volkswagen priced the Pro well at $37,345 — five grand cheaper.

"What's great is that you don't lose out on features or even power by ordering the Standard. The two cars both have rear-wheel drive and 201 horsepower. As you could expect, the smaller battery means less range. 209 miles for the Standard and 275 for the Pro, although our long-termer did 288 in our real-world testing.

"When our testing team gets its hands on the Standard trim, I wouldn't be shocked to see it outdo the EPA estimate by a few miles, which means you're looking at a crossover for south of $40,000.

"Personally, I think the Standard is going to overtake the Pro in popularity. Volkswagen was right to not knock content out of the cheaper model, and the range it offers should be plenty for most people. We'll see where the ID.4 Standard ranks on our list soon enough, but after first impressions, it seems like the way to go."


2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Technology

In this section we cover in-car tech as well as the tech that makes this EV go. Is the primary display screen easy to use? Are the camera displays clear? Does the software get confused when you plug in at the local charger? We plan to find out.

How does the ID.4's technology compare to the burgeoning EV compact SUV class?

The electric SUV segment is growing fast and each car brings a unique perspective. One Edmunds staffer shares their of the new Volkswagen EV in our midst. They explain, "Initially, you look at the ID.4 and the car looks very nice. Unlike the Mach-E, the hood is stubby and personally I think that the short hood makes the car more wedge-shaped and aesthetically pleasing. Unfortunately, the short hood also means that there is no frunk.

"When you open the door, its interior quality is also nice. Compared to others in the class its center screen is small and the layout already seems a bit dated. Next to the Mach-E and Model Y in our long-term fleet, the user interface trails behind. For example, why would you create a button with a circle and X and have users think that that would be the back button and not an off button? Further, the touch buttons for climate control offer no haptic feedback — or none we've found a setting for yet — and that can get frustrating."

How functional is the ID.4's smartphone integration?

A pair of Edmunds staffers gave Apple CarPlay a chance in the ID.4 ... and both expressed frustrations. Here's senior editor of written content Brent Romans.

"I stopped using Apple CarPlay to integrate my phone and it solved the problems I was having with slow responsiveness and occasional blank screens," he said. "Now I'm just using a regular Bluetooth connection to stream music and do calls, and that works fine. Is it lame that I've had to go back in time technologically? Yes. I'd *like* to use Apple CarPlay for all the other stuff it does in getting my phone's apps integrated onto the touchscreen. But in this case, I prefer limited functionality over buggy functionality."

Vehicle Test Technician Rex Tokeshi-Torres concurred, saying "with us being tethered to our phones 24-7, it's default for me to use either my iPhone or my Pixel 6 Pro as my music source. That is... when it actually works. When I plugged my iPhone into the ID.4 this morning, all music sources that I normally use only played the song for a second and then would stop. I stepped out of the car, locked it, made sure it was powered-down, restarted it then tried again. No dice - still the same issue. WTH!?! Thankful for XM/Sirius satellite radio.

Later in the day, I tried it again and it worked. Not sure what that was all about but I can see how that could becoming annoying if it happened frequently."

"The multimedia system is noticeably quicker than when I first drove an ID.4 last year, but it still has its quirks. There were a few times that AppConnect would fail on start up and not load Android Auto, so I had to plug the phone in to get it to work. And another time where Android Auto loaded on the bottom right corner of the screen and locked the rest of the touchscreen (also not ideal). The rest of the native stuff worked very well, it was snappy to get from menu to menu and it started up quickly when not trying to load AA right away. But to have three or four failures in the course of a week would make it annoying to live with long-term." — Brian Wong, senior editor

The ID.4 added auto-brake hold, but still no one-pedal driving

"As part of a recent software update (update 3.10), our 2021 ID.4 gained a new feature: auto brake hold. This feature will allow 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 don't confuse this with full one-pedal driving capability. Many other EVs will come to a complete stop after deceleration and then hold the brakes without you needing to press the brake pedal at all. The ID.4 has a decent rate of deceleration when lifting off the accelerator but you still have to press on the brake pedal to completely stop. Otherwise, it will just slowly creep forward at around 2 mph. Hopefully VW will add one-pedal driving capability with another future update." — Brent Romans, senior manager, written content

A software update improved the ID.4's smartphone integration

"Take a look at previous comments in our ID.4's technology and you'll find plenty of negative commentary about the touchscreen and, specifically, the system's smartphone integration (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). Back when I drove our ID.4 in 2022, the system was so bad that I found it was effectively unusable. I also experienced blank and frozen screens.

"Pleasingly, the touchscreen system is better now that we've gotten the 3.1.0 software update. Plugging in my iPhone phone will consistently bring up the CarPlay interface, and I haven't noticed any blank screens. CarPlay can still be pretty slow to boot up, however, taking at times upwards of 30 seconds from when I first get into the car to when the CarPlay interface finally appears on the screen." — Brent Romans, senior manager, written content

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*ID.4 inventory is limited. Visit vw.com/id.4/FAQ for more information.**Starting MSRP of $38,995 for a 2023 Volkswagen ID.4 Standard with single-speed automatic transmission. Prices exclude destination, taxes, title, other options, and dealer charges. Dealer sets actual price. HomeStation™ L2 charger and cable not included and require extra installation and wiring costs. 120V (L1) charging hardware also not included with MY23 VW ID.4 and is sold separately. Please see Owner’s Manual for installation and other charging information.