In the words of Robert Allen Zimmerman, aka Bob Dylan, the times they are a changin’.
Like it or not, the electric vehicle revolution is already in full swing, and is going to change the way we get from A to B.
Take General Motors. It has set a goal of phasing out all its internal combustion vehicles by 2035. Over at Ford, the target is for EVs to make up half the company’s sales by 2030. It’s already earmarked $50 billion on ramping-up electric vehicle production between now and 2026.
No one has thrown more eggs into the EV basket than Volkswagen. It plans to launch 10 new electric models by 2026 and is investing a staggering $150 billion between now and 2027 to build them.
VW’s electric revolution kicked off in 2021 with the launch of the ID.4 all-electric crossover. Going forward, all electric VWs will be badged ID – short for “intelligent design” – with the groovy ID.Buzz electric minivan and ID.7 flagship sedan already in the pipeline.
Full disclosure here – I’d never driven an ID.4. So I thought the time had come to correct that omission and arranged a week with a 2023 ID.4 S – base price $43,995. It revealed lots of good things, and a few not so good, about this versatile electric runabout.
But a word about that price tag. When the ID.4 was launched, it was built outside of the U.S. meaning no federal tax credit. That changed this year when production switched to VW’s sprawling assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
That means Uncle Sam will give you a full $7,500 tax credit on any new ID.4. Add to this the announcement from Washington this past Friday that, starting January 1, dealers will be able to take the $7,500 tax credit straight off the sticker price, rather than buyers having to wait months to file their tax returns.
So think of that $43,995 sticker as $36,495 (plus $$1,295 destination) and the ID.4 becomes a whole lot more appealing.
Right now, the ID.4 comes in no fewer than eight flavors. Everything from the base ID.4 Standard at $38,995 – before that tasty Government credit – to the all-bells-and-whistles ID.4 AWD Pro S Plus at $55,245.
The ID.4 S I’m driving is one of the most-affordable but less-appealing models, powered by a single 201-hp electric motor juiced by the smaller 62-kWh battery and driving the rear wheels.
The problem here is the range, or lack of it. VW claims 209 miles between charges, which is fine for most of our daily driving needs. But crank up the a/c and head to the beach from Tampa, or the IKEA store from St. Pete, and chances are you’ll start getting anxious.
Go for the ID.4 Pro version – $43,995 – and you get the bigger 82 kWh battery pack giving a more comforting 275 miles of range. And for 2024, the 82 kWh models get a performance boost that will give more horsepower – up to 330 – and greater range.
For me, the beauty of the ID.4 is that it’s a Volkswagen that happens to be electric. That means it’s approachable and familiar, with a focus on family-friendly versatility, space and flexibility.
It looks good too, in a non-polarizing way, that Tesla’s bubble-on-wheels Model Y or Toyota’s silly-named bZ4X makes you scratch your head. I like the VW’s clean, unfussy lines, high waist, and broad shoulders.
Inside, there’s comfy seating for five, with excellent legroom in the back, and 30 cubic feet of luggage space with the rear seat in place, and a whopping 64 cubic feet with it folded flat.
On the road, even with the single motor and 201 horsepower, it feels plenty zippy, with lively rather than neck-snapping acceleration. And with the battery pack mounted low, it always feels nimble and planted through the curves.
While Hyundai’s Ioniq 5, Kia’s EV6 and now more affordable Tesla Model Y are formidable rivals, VW’s ID.4, especially the uprated versions coming early next year, is definitely worth considering.