VW ID.4 EV First Impressions

This ID.4 review is possible because of Volkswagen's Experience Event that I recently attended. They had four cars on hand, and you could take one away for a 30-minute spin, then ask questions when you returned. It was an informative morning. And since VW is accepting orders for the car online, "experiencing" the vehicle is helpful to decide if it's the right choice.


Leading up to the test drive, I had read as many reviews as possible. They varied from positive via the Verge and Mashable, to critical from the Wall Street Journal. Car and Driver was somewhere in between. So am I.

After reading those articles, I had specific things I wanted to investigate with the ID.4. And this 30-minute experience was just what the doctor ordered.

My bottom line, before we get into the details, is that VW has done a very good job with its first serious attempt at a full-time electric vehicle.

VW ID.4 Experience View from the driver's seat looking forward in the VW ID.4. Visibility is good in this car.

What I Liked

The car accelerated better than some of the reviews had indicated. I had no problem merging onto a busy freeway, and maneuvering from lane to lane. I thought the acceleration was smooth and fast enough to meet my needs. My other car is an Audi A3 with a turbo engine. I did not feel like I was giving up my mojo with the Volkswagen.

Something that I had not read about, but wanted to test, was the turning radius. I had become very spoiled with the Audi, and was not willing to go back to lumbering hippos that required 3-point turns. The ID.4 was nimbly impressive. I was spinning around on a dime in the parking lot before returning the car. I'm sure anyone watching was thinking that I had lost my mind.

The info system was fine, but I will be tapping CarPlay most the time with my iPhone. (CarPlay is on the must-have list, BTW.) Overall, I thought the cabin controls were intuitive and well-placed. I loved the panorama roof with sliding interior fabric cover. And the seats were very comfortable.

Speaking of the cabin, the fit and finish of the components were high-quality. This is another case where it felt like I was sitting in my Audi instead of what I would expect from a Volkswagen. They did a great job with the interior.

VW ID.4 Experience Due to my height (6' 7"), I had the front seat moved all the way back and reclined to accommodate my legs, which the car did nicely. There was still room in the back seat behind me as well.

I should also note that I'm 6' 7" tall, and there was enough head and leg room for me to sit comfortably. My impression is that you can seat 6-footers up front, and normal folks in the back, no problem at all.

Things I Didn't Like as Much

Per the reviews, The brakes do take some getting used to. They were not as firm as what I commonly expect, and I felt like I was pressing further into their arch to reach the stopping power that I wanted. I'm sure this is something that I would get used to, but it did jump out at me on the first drive. Plus I didn't have the opportunity to test "regen" braking, which I'm sure changes the feel as well.

Something that I had not read about, but noticed, was that the steering seemed sensitive on the freeway around 75 MPH. Whatever movements I made with the wheel were immediately conveyed to the car. There wasn't that little bit of play that makes for easy cruising. With a little more time, I could test the different driving modes. My guess is that "Sport" might tighten up the steering.

Again, over time, and after testing the different driving modes, it would be interesting to see what my final verdict was. On surface streets, however, steering was great. I'm thinking a mode change for freeway.

VW ID.4 Experience Plenty of traditional SUV cargo space, but not much more in the way of smaller pockets and cubby holes.

And finally, even though you have SUV-like cargo storage with with ID.4, especially when the back seats are folded down, there weren't many other more convenient spots to stash your stuff. The ID.4 doesn't provide any storage under the front hood, even though the motor is in the rear. And aside from the common side pockets in the doors, and some room in the center console, not much happening in the front cabin either.

The Bottom Line After My Experience

For an everyday bang-around car that can comfortably seat four and has enough cargo space for daily life, I think the ID.4 is a good option. Its respectable 250-mile range means that most drivers will only have to charge up once, maybe twice a week. And it's comfortable enough for longer trips if you don't mind topping off along the way.

What really impressed me, however, is how nimble and sporty it felt. Even though you get the cubic-feet storage that most of us need, it's fun to drive. The ID.4 is easy to park and maneuver in parking lots. And when it's time to merge on to the freeway, this EV has enough giddy-up to take its place among any of its fossil-fuel counterparts.

My sense is that Volkswagen wanted to design an electric car with wide appeal and a little flare. I think they accomplished that goal. There are enough new things in the ID.4 to delight, yet it still feels comfortable for folks buying their first EV.

As for me, I'm looking forward to logging more miles with it and discovering its true personality.