Review: VW ID.4 Pro S disappoints over time
With more exposure to VW's first mass electric car in the United States, I have come to like it less.
I first tried an ID.4 last year and had a lukewarm reception to it, liking a few aspects of its simple nature in their slow transition to electric vehicles. But, after a second go with the range-topping 'Pro' model, any hope of genuinely liking the ID.4 has decreased significantly despite the presence of a second electric motor and increased performance. To be blunt, there is nothing special about the ID.4, nor is there any reason to buy it, especially over rivals like the Mach-E or Tesla Model Y. I have come to the conclusion that VW actually doesn't care too much about the ID.4 themselves, with little creativity or passion poured into the product of 'their future.'
You either scored a killer lease deal on one, are a diehard Volkswagen fan, or you just really, really like the way it looks. Other than that, there is next to no reason to choose an ID.4. That said, at least the performance is vastly improved over the former model, needing 5.7 seconds to hit 60 MPH from rest (about a two second reduction over the standard model), even if this new version doesn't ever feel that particularly quick in practice. And, it is decent value I guess, when compared to other dual-motor faux-SUV EV offerings at an as-tested price of $50,870 for this well-equipped example. A comparable Model Y costs several thousand more for the dual-motor, though admittedly, it's still miles faster and offers more range. The ID.4 drives fine, if less enthusiastically than other Volkswagens (VW usually makes a well-driving car), but it doesn't leave any kind of lasting impression. It is, for good measure, at least comfortable on the road.
Lots of reasons, and don't think I'm just hating on this car or for the fact that it's electric. When I initially tried one, I was very open to the idea of it and as a conservative way of attracting existing VW buyers into an electric vehicle, but that's now the past. While other electric vehicles have real reasons and unique, attention-grabbing features to choose them, the ID.4 has next to none other than the fact that it's electric.
Design-wise, the exterior plain boring. While it's not ugly like a Tesla, the ID.4 could have been an adventurous creation, but instead chose to be molded from play-dough. It's not unattractive, but it's so mundane when next to Ford's flashy Mach-E or Hyundai's incoming Ioniq 5. And in person, the frontal area looks stupidly large and bulbous. But it's not just how it looks on the outside. Electric cars are supposed to give designers more freedom as there no longer is a large gearbox and engine in the way, which means things can be mounted far lower in the chassis. However, the ID.4 doesn't even have a front 'frunk' storage area. What? Yes, it's filled with 'stuff' and cannot be used for additional storage. The rear cargo area also isn't necessarily impressive, and the interior space itself doesn't dazzle. Even more concerning is how high up everything feels for no reason, and no, I'm not just talking about the seating position, but the height of the hoodline. The hood, whatever junk it's covering, is higher than the dash, which highly impedes vision and makes the view out front appear tragically smaller than it should. There is zero creativity and inspiration here, and instead feels like a hack job to make a car and nothing more.
I like the minimalist design, aesthetically, of the cabin, but with an MSRP of $50,870, it fails to impress sadly. Sure, after government rebates that will knock off many thousands offer your price, this interior quality doesn't even come close to matching the MSRP with lots of cheap plastics and the worst feeling door handles of any modern car that actually can nearly trap you in the car. At first glance from the driver's seat, you might think there are no window switches for the rear, but there, you just have to hit a switch first to alternate from operating the fronts verse the rears. Why are there not be individual buttons for each bloody window?
Then there's the infotainment system, operated by a giant and attractive touchscreen in the middle. Pretty, right? Yes, but profound lag constantly plagued the entire interface and is a safety concern as a result if you're attempting to operate while moving. Simple things like scrolling through music on Sirius XM was a glaring example, with it refusing to scroll and then also selecting stations you didn't want because of it constantly freezing. And yes, it did this on all menus. And you can't adjust active driver safety systems while moving? C'mon.
The operation of the Drive and Reverse rocker switch is tacky and crap, too, and the gauge cluster is equally garbage with its layout and lack of ability of what it can display. They totally copied the BMW i3 in this regard for both of these, but like that was a good starting point and inspiration. Creativity, VW, where is it?
And we have the driving experience, a most drab one. Adding a much needed power boost is helpful and stabbing the throttle from under 10 MPH can be fun for about a second, but this is still far from fun to drive. VW keeps playing their propaganda radio ads proclaiming EVs are fun to drive, but really? This is what they're talking about? Good grief. The handling doesn't impress, either, with gas-powered VWs being more entertaining in twisty sections of road. Luckily, this is all-wheel drive for those that want it in inclement weather or snow, but that's also not a unique feature among the segment.
As far as efficiency goes, the range computer in my tester, when driven quite conservatively in a mix of city and highway driving, peaked at an estimated combined 220 miles from its 82 kWh battery pack. Frankly, it's just not that impressive from a large battery such as this and falls about 15-20 miles short of the 2WD model. However, a Mach-E with a similarly-sized battery goes only about just as far, while a Model Y standard range will beat them both handily even with its smaller 70 kWh battery pack.
Finally, there's the Electrify America charging network, which is growing in cities and new ID.4 owners and lessees can use for free for their first three years. That's a great deal, no doubt, but the chargers are unreliable. Last time, I thought I had a one-time bad experience, but no, it's a trend, and others in the press have complained about it, too. Simply put, the chargers don't seem to work half the time; I had to give up on one charger altogether, and one time the VW locked the failed charger into itself and wouldn't give it back no matter how many times I tried unlocking the car; I actually thought I was stuck! Though some chargers claim 350 kWh fast charging, I never saw it pump more than 130 kWh into the ID.4.
This is not the future, but a regression more akin to homo erectus owing to oversight and its clunky implementations and traits than a modern sapien.
Less brutal, and more just a disappointment that fails to stand-up over time. I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt, but seeing from a new perspective of the rivals available, and just compared to other gas cars, the ID.4 is at sometimes a disaster of an automobile, with most issues having nothing to do with the fact that it's electric. If this is supposed to be a future - the future - you got to try harder to inspire people to believe the same.
2022 VW ID.4 Pro S
As-tested price: $50,870
Pros: Well-equipped and decent value among peers
Cons: Boring, user experience failings
Verdict: If they paid attention to it, VW might have been able to make something great