The first-ever Volkswagen all-electric compact crossover SUV carries an odd name, sounding more like a software iteration than a brand new model. However, it makes sense given that the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 shares more in common with society’s burgeoning reliance on electronics during the current tech-age boom than its previous century relatives of the combustion car era. Decked out from top to bottom with all sorts of tech-savvy instruments and touchscreens and powered solely by electric motors and a thick battery pack, the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is a step in a very different direction for Volkswagen even if it’s not a very surprising one.
The ID.4 Started As An All-Electric Concept Car
While a lot of all-electric vehicles being introduced by some of the other big automotive manufacturers seem to be coming out of nowhere or unveiled as total surprises, the Volkswagen ID.4 is not so far removed from its concept-car roots. The nomenclature actually stayed rather consistent for the new Volkswagen, as it was originally called the Volkswagen I.D. Crozz, which was unveiled back in 2017 with a tweaked look. The overall design of the I.D. Crozz actually stayed rather consistent with the ID.4’s final appearance, barring, of course, the larger wheels, silver livery, and snake-like curves.
The final design took on a more conservatively conventional look with practical lines and more visually relaxed colors without the front and rear fascia that made the original I.D. Crozz concept crossover look more alien than futuristic. In fact, the Volkswagen ID.4 looks like a more compact version of the Chevy Equinox, which makes sense given that the Equinox is a highly popular crossover SUV that seems to be a dominant market force within its class.
An all-electric take on that style of design makes the ID.4 an easy sell for those in the market for a subcompact crossover. The departure from the original concept car roots, I believe, will help make the vehicle stand out more for those who want a traditional looking yet stylish crossover that doesn’t seem unapproachable like so many concept cars that are rolled out each year at international auto shows.
Travel And Charge For An All-Electric Ride
Whenever someone brings up all-electric vehicles, there’s the very audible groan from the combustion engine enthusiasts. It’s understandable that we hear about the reduced emissions and lower fuel costs for electric vehicles, but there’s also the flip-side with the reduced total travel distance per charge and the equally daunting charge times. But Volkswagen seems to be addressing that part of the equation rather well with the ID.4’s battery performance.
The ID.4 enables drivers to take the SUV around and about town for up to 250 miles on a single full charge, which is quite impressive for an EV. You can charge the ID.4 in a number of different ways, including using the convenient Level 1 (120-volt) or taking advantage of the faster Level 2 (240-volt) to reduce charge times and get back out onto the road faster.
DC fast charging is also available, which will net you about 60 miles of range in just 10 minutes of charge time thanks to the 125-kWh charging capacity. Volkswagen is also promising that you can recharge from 5% to 80% of total battery capacity in about 38 minutes at a public DC fast charging station. Finding a public charger shouldn’t be too much of a hassle either, given that the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is compatible with more than 17,000 public charging stations spread across the nation, many of which are run by Volkwagen through Electrify America.
Peak Performance For The ID.4
As far as performance is concerned, some early tests estimate that the ID.4 can achieve about 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 7.6 seconds, which is quite notable for an all-electric SUV. The rear-wheel drive electric motor generates 201 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque. An optional all-wheel drive configuration is coming later and will boast 302 horsepower and the ability to tow up to 2,700 pounds, which is quite impressive for an electric SUV.
There are some combustion-based subcompact SUVs that don’t quite reach those figures, so there’s a lot of leeway for the ID.4 to tow or trailer small boats, camping gear, hiking equipment, or another small vehicle. This all-electric SUV doesn’t necessarily break ground in the performance department, but it seems like it’s a rather notable stepping stone for Volkswagen to take the ID.4 and possibly branch out even further if the subcompact crossover happens to be a smash hit success much like Chevy’s Bolt EV.
It seems like it was just a few years ago that movies predicted that we would hop into the back seat of our own cars and tell a calming AI (via voice-activation, of course) where we wanted to go and how to get there. That vision of the future seems to no longer be a dream but an actual reality.
While some electric vehicles have gone all-in on the hands-free driving to mimic Tesla, Volkswagen decided to take a more reserved approach with the ID.4 by making the IQ.Drive closer to an evolved version of adaptive cruise control rather than all-out self-driving found in some other electric vehicles. The ADAT, Advanced Drivers Assistance Technology, is a suite of driver-assist features that still encourage drivers to keep their hands on the wheel but provides assistance in everything short of taking complete control over the vehicle.
This includes cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, front emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and adaptive cruise control. Emergency assistance can even bring the vehicle to a safe stop if the vehicle detects the driver has fallen asleep or is otherwise impaired. Travel assistance with steering, acceleration, and braking support is also included, so the SUV is basically guiding the driver to their destination, which might be extremely helpful for learner drivers or first-time drivers who may be afraid to get behind the wheel.
It seems like a good compromise between standard driving assistance suites and full-on autonomous driving since it’s not wresting complete control from the driver, nor are drivers leaving a computer to control and navigate roadways without driver input. It’s more like a synergy between man and machine.
Electric Vehicle App Integration
A tech-driven all-electric crossover SUV not having app integration would be a cardinal sin, but thankfully the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 does come with app integration. Some people may not see the use of connecting a vehicle to an app, but unlike a combustion-powered vehicle, an all-electric vehicle is dependent on a number of electronic and technological components to maintain its operation.
If you have to plan or plot a destination, it’s imperative that you know what the travel distance is and whether or not you have enough charge in the battery pack to get there. Using proprietary software like Volkswagen Car-Net allows you to view your vehicle’s charging status, battery usage, as well as plot how and where to charge the ID.4 along your planned route(s).
It’s a great way to ensure that you don’t get too far out into no man’s land and find yourself driving on a depleted battery with no charge stations in sight. The connectivity features in the vehicle and the app also allow you to contact emergency services, make use of Wi-Fi within the ID.4’s cabin, and of course, enjoy all the latest infotainment features. Those include wireless charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, configurable touchscreens, and Bluetooth.
Next Generation Of Travel
I don’t know how well the new wave of all-electric vehicles will be embraced by the market at large, but there are some fascinating developments taking place, and we’re seeing a brand-new technology come to life right before our very eyes. It’s also nice to see Volkswagen get aboard the electric crossover SUV train with the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4, and I’m sure we’ll see plenty of model years to come for this interesting new addition to the line-up for the German automaker.