Expert Reviews

2024 Volkswagen ID.4 First Drive Review

Technology can be a wonderful thing, and watching its impact on the auto industry over the past decade has been riveting.

Where previously mid-cycle model refreshes might include the addition of new colours or possibly some minor fixes, the time and expense of re-tooling often prohibited significant overhauls. Now, though, manufacturers are able to execute over-the-air (OTA) updates to a car’s programming that can affect drivability or a user’s interface with the screens and controls inside, even without a dealership visit.

The 2024 Volkswagen ID.4 is a prime example of this, as it has enjoyed notable improvements three years in a row. And while we have been advocates for VW’s electric crossover in the past, this year’s updates make it a contender for best-in-segment status.

Let There Be Light(s)!

The ID.4 has earned our adoration over the past few years, but it’s not been without faults that mostly stem from questionable ergonomic choices, some of which carry over here. The defrost portion of the climate controls, for instance, is situated by the headlight switches on the left side of the dashboard, and annoyingly, there are only two window buttons on the driver’s door to control all four windows. But there is good news in the cabin updates: in the 82-kWh battery trims (all but the cheapest one), the slider panels for volume and temperature control are finally backlit (a welcome change that will soon show up in GTI and Atlas models, too).

The 82-kWh battery ID.4s also get an updated 12.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system that’s more responsive than before, and offers more configurability to suit driver preferences. A fixed row of controls including a home button spans the bottom of the screen, but users can also set preferred hot key icons across the top of the screen for desired shortcuts. The graphics look fresher and more colourful than before, and it’s a very intuitive system to use overall, although the voice assistant can be a little over-eager, often interrupting a conversation to “help” when not summoned.

The rest of the interior is largely unchanged (like the exterior styling), though the 82-kWh trims get standard front heated and cooled seating, and the more expensive ones get an upgraded audio system. The ID.4 still provides generous passenger space for up to five occupants, and the cargo hold, at 858 L (expanding to 1,818 L), is the largest in the class.

More Power to the Volks

As pleasing as illuminated controls are, the really big news pertains to the motors teamed with the 82-kWh battery. Thanks to a host of engineering tweaks, like an improved stator with more windings and stronger magnets, plus a new oil-and-water cooling system, there's a generous bump in output. Rear-wheel-drive models see output increase from 201 hp to 282, while all-wheel-drive variants go from 295 to 335 hp. Torque is a plentiful 402 lb-ft.

The increased gusto makes the rear-drive models feel as lively as last year’s all-wheel-drive (AWD) trims, a sensation backed by Volkswagen’s claims that the zero-to-96 km/h happens in 5.9 seconds (last year it took 7.7, and 5.7 seconds for the AWD models). The entry-level 62-kWh set-up carries over from last year with its 201 hp.

Most of this test was spent in a top-spec AWD model that’s now rated at 4.9 seconds to 96 km/h. Around town, the added punch is noticeable, and the mid-range and passing power of the AWD machine is genuinely quick. It’s the sort of thrust that’s absent from most of the other mainstream EVs, and makes the ID.4 driving experience closer to the premium brand offerings.

The smooth pavement traversed on this Southern California drive route didn’t offer much chance to evaluate the ID.4’s ride quality compared to what Canadian drivers endure on our frost-heaved byways, but we’ve always been impressed by the VW’s ability to soak up bumps, and its suspension remains unmodified for 2024. Our test route included some freeway driving, urban stop-and-go, and a fabulous section of the famed Angeles Crest Highway that winds its way up into the mountains. Long favoured by enthusiasts who like to wring out their performance machines, the Angeles Crest showed off just how competent the ID.4’s handling is as it kept its composure even when pressed hard into the tight twists.

More Range, Too

Adding more power is relatively easy, but it usually comes at the cost of efficiency. Not so with the 2024 ID.4 which improves its range, too. Previously the 82-kWh rear-wheel-drive models were rated at 443 km, but they gain an extra 25 km for a total of 468 km on a full charge. Meanwhile, AWD variants stretch from 410 km to 423 km, making the ID.4 more competitive with the likes of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6. The 62-kWh model offers a modest range of 332 km.

The ID.4’s 82-kWh battery pack can accept DC fast-charging speeds up to 175 kW, which falls well short of the Hyundai and Kia competitors, but still enables a 10-to-80 per cent charge in 28 minutes. Volkswagen includes up to four years or 1,400 kWh of free charging at Electrify Canada’s charging stations across the country.

Still a Good Value

Apart from being rewarding to drive and handsomely styled, the ID.4 is aggressively priced. Of course, this year's improvements come with a hike, but the ID.4 remains very competitive within the segment.

At $48,495, the 62-kWh entry point to the ID.4 family comes standard with notable features like heated seats and steering wheel, wireless phone charging, satellite radio, plus a comprehensive suite of active safety features and driver aids. Stepping up to a rear-drive 82-kWh ID.4 Pro model is a $52,995 decision, while an AWD variant starts at $57,995, and tops out around $65,000 with every option checked for an ID.4 Pro S AWD.

Volkswagen Canada is offering an optional heat pump for $1,500 on every model to help mitigate winter range losses. The ID.4 is eligible for the full $5,000 federal rebate, plus all provincial and territorial rebates where they're offered.

Final Thoughts

The 2024 Volkswagen ID.4 represented the first major step of the company's massive investment toward reinventing itself as an electric automaker, and it has been successfully drawing in new customers to Volkswagen showrooms. A solid effort out of the gate, the continual improvements each year have made the ID.4 an excellent choice in the mainstream EV segment.

The 2024 Volkswagen ID.4 is expected to arrive in Canadian showrooms early this spring.

2024 Volkswagen ID.4 Canadian Pricing
Trim Price
ID.4 (62 kWh) $48,495
ID.4 S (62 kWh) $50,995
ID.4 Pro (82 kWh) $52,995
ID.4 Pro S (82 kWh) $55,495
ID.4 Pro AWD (82 kWh) $57,995
ID.4 Pro S AWD (82 kWh) $60,495
Optional Heat Pump (all trims): $1,500
Freight and PDI: $2,100