What we're driving: Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV
I'm inching closer to buying an electric vehicle. Volkswagen's new ID.4 could finally get me to take the plunge.
The big picture: The ID.4 isn't trying to compete with Tesla or any other EVs, which account for less than 3% of the U.S. market.
- Instead, it's challenging the most popular gasoline-powered SUVs like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CRV.
Yes, but: Buyers will inevitably see the ID.4's 250-mile driving range as inferior to the 316-mile range in Tesla's Model Y.
By the numbers: VW does have a price advantage over Tesla, though. Buyers qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit that Tesla already exhausted (unless Congress extends the incentives to further pump EV sales).
- That brings the $39,995 starting price for an ID.4 down to $32,495, and potentially less if state tax credits are also available.
- That includes three years of free fast-charging at Electrify America.
Our thought bubble: I tested a well-equipped First Edition model priced at $43,995. It's smooth and quiet, like most EVs, and has a giant panoramic glass roof.
- There's no starter button. If you've got the key fob on you, just depress the brake and it starts. Later, shift into park and exit the car, and it shuts off.
- The gear shifter on the steering column is innovative: twist forward to drive, opposite for reverse. There's also a "brake" mode that allows one-pedal driving for more regenerative power.
One fun thing: The infotainment screen is controlled through haptic touch or voice commands — there are no buttons — but the voice feature could use improvement.
- Say "Hello ID, I'm cold" and a light strip along the base of the windshield lights up. It even recognizes whether the driver or passenger is talking, and responds by turning up the heat on that side.
- When using the ID.4's navigation system, the same lights point in the direction you need to turn.
The bottom line: The ID.4 is modern and fun to drive, and at that price, it's worth serious consideration if you're thinking electric.