Driving 2021 Volkswagen ID 4, Volkswagen's first electric SUV

Driving 2021 Volkswagen ID 4

all-new Volkswagen ID.4 2021 is the vehicle Volkswagen relies on to build its electric vehicle business.

The hottest segment in the American vehicle market today is compact crossovers – think Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. That’s precisely where the ID.4 fits — except that it’s all-electric only, while those two cars are available as gas cars, a hybrid (the CR-V and RAV4) or a plug-in hybrid (RAV4 Prime.

interior of the 2021 Volkswagen ID 4

Inside, the design is clean, modern and not cheap looking. Textures are not pretend leather or faux anything—VW celebrates the car’s modern materials. The seats look and feel like leather, but are actually leatherette, perforated in the sample car in an elegant hexagon pattern. Leatherette is a classic Volkswagen material—my 1968 Squareback featured it, too.

Design 2021 Volkswagen ID 4

Volkswagen engineers and designers used their tape measurements, because the ID.4 falls within the hair range of the Toyota and Honda models mentioned above, with a few extra inches. Based on the MEB's new electric vehicle platform, the battery is hidden from view and does not intrude passenger or cargo space. The internal passenger volume is 99.9 cubic feet wide. The cargo capacity is 30.3 cubic feet with the second row up and 64.2 cubic feet folded.

Volkswagen has provided the ID.4 with extras that surpass its competitors, such as larger standard wheels, large display screens, wireless phone charging and app connectivity.

Volkswagen is now accepting deposits for the First Edition model, which offers numerous upgrades at a 10 percent premium on the "Pro" model, the standard Edition debuting in the first quarter of 2021. After the first edition is sold out, to get all the extras you will have to order Statement packages and gradations from them. It adds the kinds of things people would love and would pay for if they weren't trying to be budget conscious, like the 12-way electric seats with lumbar massages and a huge sunroof.

Engine, charging and power of 2021 Volkswagen ID 4

The 1st Edition model comes with a 201-horsepower motor, mounted in the rear (like a Beetle!) With 228 pounds-feet of torque. The ID.4’s 82 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery is made up of 288 pouch cells in 12 modules housed in a lightweight aluminum structure bolted to the frame. Range is expected to hit 250 miles, which is right in the heart of the “affordable” EV market. All-electric competitors include the Chevy Bolt EV (259), Hyundai Kona Electric (258), and Kia Niro EV (239). Next year, a higher-performance all-wheel-drive ID. 4 model will arrive with 302 horsepower.

Charging up

Even if buyers love the ID. 4's style and features, the lingering EV charging issue remains. With the ID.4, as with most EVs, you can use Level 2 (240-volt) charging or Level 3 DC fast charging. With the former, through an 11-kW onboard charger, the battery will add 33 miles of range per hour, taking about 7.5 hours to complete from empty. That’s perfect for home or workplace charging. The 125 kW DC fast charging is designed for quick topping off when traveling. You can boost the battery from 5 to 80 percent in just 38 minutes — a freeway lunch stop.

2021 Volkswagen ID 4

To make fast charging convenient, VW has allied with the charger network it's building, Electrify America, and offers free fast charging for three years. How long it’ll take to rival Tesla's Supercharger network is uncertain, but they are offering more than 2,500 DC fast charging locations (5,494 plugs) already. That makes it easy to drive the ID.4 across this wide country without much trouble at all. That removes a major objection to going EV.

The modern interior will be the freshest in the market. One unique feature is ID.Light. It’s a thin strip below the windshield that lights up for various reasons — to indicate turns, warn you of automatic braking for an object ahead, show charging status and much more. Once you learn it, it serves as an instant and almost subconscious reminder. There’s wireless mobile charging, and the Car-Net feature adds a mobile hot spot for up to four devices. The dash offers gesture control, so you won’t get greasy fingerprints on your touch screen.

EVs aren’t generally thought of as tow vehicles, but the ID.4 can pull 2,700 pounds — 200 more than the RAV4 Prime and 1,200 more than the CR-V Hybrid.

A chastened VW says they’re aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050 per the Paris Agreement. Meanwhile, at the Zwickau plant in Germany, they’re using electricity generated from renewable sources and are buying carbon offsets to allow a carbon-neutral balance there. More is coming, they say, and Clean Fleet Report will be following it.

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