Quickies: How To Electrify The Masses Again

We often talk about the reality of electric vehicles. The volume on battery electric propulsion has been climbing towards 11 with every new vehicle introduced into the marketplace. From pickup trucks to SUVs and sleek-looking cars, the electric car seems to be pushing its way to the vehicle-buying public. 

The choices are also getting broader. New vehicles are coming from both established manufacturers and start-ups alike. It is a dizzying array of new products, enticed by tax breaks and incentives to get a home charger installed in your garage. 

I know you want me to cover electric vehicles. I try to, but the opportunities are few and far between. I even try to meet you half-way, but not even plug-in hybrids are good enough for you.

Well, one of those opportunities came about when I got behind the wheel of the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4, the company’s fully electric vehicle offered in this country. It is part of a global strategy to bring more electric vehicles under the “digital” Volkswagen logo. 

The ID.4 is a SUV/crossover, designed to fit in the area between the upcoming small SUV, the Taos, and the Tiguan. It offers a different kind of vehicle with plenty of practicality and comfort with an all-electric drive system. Actually, there are a few such vehicles…let's just concentrate on the ID.4, shall we?

Compared to the rest of the Volkswagen lineup, the ID.4 introduces us to a new twist to the brand’s design language. The lines are softer, with some sharp details and different finishes. I love how the doors open wide for my big body to get and out of both rows of seats. The liftgate also opens wide for excellent cargo access, while sporting. huge spoiler to shroud the rear window. Let’s not forget the LED strips both front and back, illuminating the ID.4 into the future. 

My 1st Edition tester offers up some exclusive touches, such as a two-tone paint scheme, contrasting at the roof, white badging and wheel caps. No matter which trim level you choose, the ID.4 offers plenty of style and personality that are seldom seen in this segment. 

That unique style continues inside with more shocks to your Volkswagen system. The trim is more upmarket with soft-touch materials. The instrument cluster is a small-ish screen attached to the steering wheel – both trimmed in white for the 1st Edition model. The screen only shows what you need – speed, battery range, and cruise control. Better than some other EV crossover made on the West Coast…ahem…back to the ID.4…

The seats are in contrasting black, along with the minimal center console. To shift the vehicle, look on the instrument cluster pod for a twisty gear lever. That alone clears up space for cupholders and purses. Man bags, too! 

The infotainment system is all new. You now have the largest screen offered on a Volkswagen model – at a mere 12 inches. The interface may be something you want to get used to, especially when using the voice commands or the haptic-touch controls on the steering wheel. 

I mentioned that the ID.4 is comfortable. The leatherette seats are soft to the touch and wide enough to get into a relaxed position behind the wheel. The rear seats have amazing space for excellent head and legroom. Some compact SUVs skimp on their second row seating. Not Volkswagen. However, the edge goes to the ID.4, as they are more comfortable than the Tiguan’s second row. 

When you start loading up the ID.4 from its wide liftgate, you start off with a generous 30.3 cubic feet. The space is quite square and load up is at bumper height. Fold down the rear seats, and you have 64.2 cubic feet of usable space for loading up your new home office – a chair, flat-packed desk, and new technology included. 

Initially, the ID.4 is available in a rear-drive configuration, with all-wheel-drive models coming later in the year. My 1st Edition tester is powered by a single 201-horsepower electric motor with a single-forward-gear transmission. 

If you’re looking for the battery pack, you’re sitting underneath it. It takes up the center part of the chassis in-between the axles. This 82-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack at full charge can drive around 250 miles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. You can juice up your ID.4 at a public DC Fast Charging unit with 60 miles of range in just 10 minutes, or up to 80% of battery capacity in just 38 minutes, as claimed by Volkswagen. In fact, Volkswagen has a deal with ElectrifyAmerica where you get three years of unlimited charging from their DC fast charging stations.

Driving the ID.4 will be different than any Volkswagen you have experience in the past – even the present. It is quiet, except for the occasional hum of the electric motor. Press the accelerator – fashioned as a “play button” on the pedal -and you feel the instant torque quietly roll away. Highway speeds are maintained well without any drama. It finds its groove out on the streets, as well. In all, you will love the ID.4’s driveline. 

Ride quality is solid. While providing a smooth glide on nice sections of roadway, the suspension system does a good job absorbing rougher patches without transmitting any feedback to the cabin. When cornering or avoiding hazards, there is nominal roll and lean exhibited in the ID.4. It will also give you a near-flat experience through the curves. 

What surprised me about the ID.4 was its steering system. It exhibited the tightest turning radius I have experienced in years. It is an electrical system that feels a bit artificial, but you can appreciate getting in and out of tight spots with this system. On-center feel is very good with great wheel weight. Stopping the ID.4 was no problem, with good pedal feel and response to the wheels. While it regenerates energy back to the battery pack, the system does not penalize on stopping power when doing so. 

The first models coming to Volkswagen dealers have already been spoken for. The 1st Edition units will arrive initially before any of the Pro and Pro S models will reach customers. Pricing for the 2021 ID.4 Pro starts at $39,995 for a rear-drive model. My 1st Edition tester came with a sticker price of $45,425. Depending on where you live, you may be eligible for incentives from the government and/or energy provider. 

The future is actually looking bright at Volkswagen. The ID.4 is a good start to widen the offerings for electric vehicles to all 50 states while kicking off a lineup of electric vehicles built on the same architecture.

If you are ready to own an electric vehicle, put the ID.4 on your shopping list. Better still, reserve one. 

DISCLAIMER: vehicle provided by Volkswagen of Inver Grove, Inver Grove Heights, MN

All photos by Randy Stern

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