Mar 19, 2021 - Economy & Business

What we're driving: Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV

Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV. Photo: VW
Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV. Photo: VW

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.

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