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2023 Volkswagen ID.4 S RWD review: A good value, but not necessarily a great EV

Volkswagen’s venerable ID.4 all-electric SUV has received some welcome upgrades for 2023. Styling tweaks and interior enhancements are the most obvious changes for the latest model year, but this vehicle also benefits from several powertrain improvements that make it easier to live with and an even better value than before.

Outside, not much is new with the ID.4, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Designers added gloss black accents to the front end, which help break things up. Three new wheel designs are available, and higher-end S models gain an illuminated VW logo on the rear. And really, that’s about it for visual tweaks.

A rear-wheel-drive S model with the new, smaller battery pack (more on this down below), the example seen here is dressed in lovely Aurora Red Metallic paint, a modest $395 upcharge. Like other S grades of the ID.4, this one also has adaptive headlamps, and all exterior lights are of the LED variety.

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The ID.4’s styling is clean and handsome. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

While not groundbreaking, this Volkswagen’s design is still clean and sleek, with no unnecessary trim or other weirdness. The bodyside’s subtle kickup at the rear fenders makes the vehicle look poised to strike. This SUV is also quite aerodynamic, with a coefficient of drag of 0.27 or 0.28 depending on the model.

Minor visual changes notwithstanding, the biggest news for 2023 is the availability of a smaller battery. The ID.4 can now be had with a 62-kilowatt-hour (gross capacity) pack, which helps lower this SUV’s price. Of course, if range takes precedence over affordability, you can still grab a battery with 82 kWh of gross capacity and commensurately more miles on a full charge.

What does that smaller battery get you? ID.4s fitted with that pack — including our tester — provide up to 209 miles of range, not a compelling figure. The 82-kWh unit is a bit more appealing, allowing this SUV to go up to 275 miles on a full charge, though that still falls well short of the 300 we typically like to see — and usually recommend.

When it comes to DC fast charging, there’s both good news and bad. The small battery tops out at a middling 140 kilowatts, which isn’t great, though the larger one will do 170, a significantly better performance, one that’s enough to get you from 10 to 80% in about 30 minutes. Aside from that, the ID.4 also comes standard with three years of unlimited 30-minute fast charging sessions from Electrify America, and that’s great news.

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You’ll love some things about this SUV’s interior, and surely dislike a few others. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

Putting fear-addled minds to ease, this Volkswagen’s battery also boasts of an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty, on that covers both defects and degradation to a 70% state of charge.

Taking advantage of all those stored electrons, the ID.4 is available with either one or two traction motors. Rear-drive models feature a single permanent-magnet dynamo that delivers 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque to the aft tires. This is more than enough for typical, everyday driving, though it will not set the world ablaze. If you want more giddy-up, grab yourself an all-wheel-drive ID.4. They gain a second, front-mounted induction motor that increases the vehicle’s output to a healthy 295 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque, enough for a 0-to-60 dash in less than 6 seconds.

Out and about, the rear-drive ID.4 is something of a mixed bag. The steering is excellent, quick and shockingly crisp on center, but with no nervousness or jitteriness. Acceleration is adequate, hitting nicely off the line but tapering appreciably at higher speeds.

As for the ride quality, it’s, well, not that great. Like lower-end versions of Ford’s Mustang Mach-E, the body bounces around noticeably over roadway undulations, though there’s also a surprising amount of tire and wind noise. Typically, modern EVs are nearly silent inside, but this VW lets quite a bit of ruckus infiltrate the cabin.

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Passengers in steerage are well cared for. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

Like any proper electric, the ID.4 offers regenerative braking. By shifting from “D” to “B” with the gear selector, you can increase the amount of regen that happens when you lift off the accelerator. Unlike, say, one of Hyundai’s E-GMP-based cars, there is no adjustability. In an Ioniq 5 or EV6, for instance, you can fine tune the regenerative braking with paddles on the steering wheel spokes; there’s lots of granularity. But here, it’s pretty much either on or off.

Improving safety and enhancing convenience, this Volkswagen comes standard with the IQ.Drive suite of aids. This includes amenities like traffic sign recognition, lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability and lane centering, a setup that works well. Lane change assistance and parking assist with memory parking are new additions for 2023. Aside from those amenities, the ID.4 also comes standard with ever-useful parking sensors and even automatic high beams.

Inside, the biggest news for 2023 is that a 12-inch infotainment display is now standard, a clear and colorful touchscreen that’s hard to fault. The multimedia array that runs on there has also been somewhat altered, with reworked submenus to improve usability. Despite these changes, this is still not one of my preferred infotainment systems. It’s not always the quickest, and the menu structure is unusual, plus, it takes two taps to turn the seat heaters on and managing radio presets is an unintuitive mess.

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Even though it’s been updated, the infotainment system is still a mixed bag. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

If you’d rather not use Volkswagen’s infotainment system, smartphone mirroring is supported. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both supported.

As before, the 2023 ID.4 has touch sliders for the dual-zone climate control system as well as audio volume. These are extremely responsive, but confoundingly, they’re not illuminated, so it’s challenging to find and use these controls at night. This vehicle also has unusual multi-modal window switches. Instead of four individual ones, there at just two. In normal use, these raise and lower the front windows, but to operate the rears, you have to toggle a separate touch button, which is silly. Volkswagen, please just install four switches like practically every other vehicle has; it’s much simpler.

Taking some of the sting out of these annoyances, the ID.4 does come with generous standard equipment. Keyless entry, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and heated front seats are all included at no extra charge.

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There’s a surprising amount of junk-haulin’ room in this VW. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

A few minor materials changes were made for 2023. Lower-end trims gain new dashboard stitching as well as fabric and leatherette seat bolsters. S models feature enhanced stitching on the door panels and have an improved center console with better cup holders, a wireless charging slot and a pair of easy-to-access USB type-C ports.

As for passenger accommodations, this VW’s front seats are supportive and very comfortable, plus the heating is among the most effective I’ve ever experienced in a car, ditto for the steering wheel heater. Even though the split backrest is not adjustable, folks relegated to the rear are well cared for, too, as there’s plenty of leg and headroom for 6-footers, plus passengers get a two air vents and a pair of USB type-C ports of their own.

When it comes to cargo space, the ID.4 offers 30.3 cubic feet of space. Fold the split second-row backrest down and that number grows to a surprisingly generous 64.2. Unfortunately, there is no front trunk. Popping the hood only reveals a bunch of powertrain hardware.

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The 2023 Volkswagen ID.4 is a good value, but not necessarily a great EV. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

Where the ID.4 is built is one more major change for 2023. This SUV is now screwed together in Chattanooga, Tennessee after Volkswagen invested some $800 into its facility there. Assembling the vehicle locally means it is now eligible for juicy federal tax credits, up to $7,500.

When it comes to pricing, before any discounts, this SUV starts at just about $40,000 including $1,295 in destination fees. As it sits, of course, this example is a little more expensive, but not much. It checks out for $44,185 with just one option: that fancy red paint job.

At the end of the day, I want to like the ID.4 because it looks good, in some ways feels like it costs more than it actually does, and it’s a strong value, however, I have a hard time recommending this electric SUV. There are a few too many little annoyances that detract from an otherwise appealing vehicle, and the range is nothing to write home about. Unfortunately for Volkswagen, there are better choices out there.

At a glance

  • Year: 2023
  • Make: Volkswagen
  • Model:4
  • Trim: S RWD
  • Type: All-electric SUV
  • Horsepower: 201
  • Torque: 229 pound-feet
  • MPGe ratings (city/highway/combined): 115/99/107
  • Range: 209 miles
  • Pros: Good DC fast charging (with larger battery pack), excellent build quality, comfortable interior, communicative steering, classy styling, eligible for federal tax credits
  • Cons: Limited regenerative braking settings, unintuitive infotainment system, range could be better, unusual secondary controls, unsettled ride
  • Estimated Base price: $40,000
  • As-tested price: $44,185 including $1,295 in destination fees
Written by Craig Cole

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