Built for purpose. There’s a growing divergence between electric vehicles which use the bodies of existing internal combustion vehicles, and EVs which were designed from the ground up. Volkswagen’s ID.4 falls into the latter category, resulting in exceptional space inside a body that is smaller than the likes of Toyota’s RAV4 and Honda’s CR-V. Five occupants share a spacious cabin with over 30 feet of cargo capacity, enjoying clear sightlines and quirky interior lighting.

With no transmission tunnel to worry about, the cabin is practically shaped, though it’s disappointing the hood is occupied by electrical components rather than additional storage. At least there won’t be any complaints from those in the back, with generous head and legroom and comfortable seating making long journeys feel shorter.

Underwhelming electric performance. A principal benefit of electric propulsion is the instant availability of full torque, so it’s disappointing that the ID.4 feels somewhat lethargic. The standard mechanical setup sends 201 horsepower to the rear wheels, giving a 0-60 time of 7.5 seconds; that’s perfectly adequate, if way slower than some EVs.

You can boost performance and grip by adding a second motor to the front wheels, increasing power to 295 hp. Performance remains brisk rather than exceptional, with the 60 sprint dispatched in 5.4 seconds. The presence of 288 hefty battery pouch cells doesn’t help, since AWD models tip the scales at 4,800 lb. At least there’s no impact on handling, with a selectable Sport mode adding poise while the rival Comfort mode delivers an excellent ride. The steering is responsive, but as is often the case in electric vehicles, grabby regenerative brakes take some getting used to.

Electrical gremlins. If the ID.4’s performance doesn’t blow your socks off, the interior has more pizzaz. Everything feels well-assembled, the cabin lighting is delightful and the ten-inch touchscreen (12 inches on pricier Pro S models) looks slick. Using it reveals some flaws, with inconsistent responses and a frustrating degree of latency. Over-the-air updates may improve matters in time, and the ID.4 is the first VW to support technology which means owners receive software updates and upgrades without having to visit a dealership. As with other EVs, you can remotely pre-condition the cabin during charging to reduce battery drain on the move.

Electric cars are synonymous with driver-aiding tech, and even entry-level Pro models receive adaptive cruise control, dual-zone climate, wireless device charging, and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel. Oddly, AWD versions are upgraded to a heated windshield at no extra cost. Top-spec trims receive a panoramic glass roof, a larger infotainment screen, and puddle lamps, but advanced features like a head-up display are reserved for the ID.4’s cousin, Audi’s Q4. At least safety is good, with road-sign recognition and blind-spot monitoring alongside pedestrian detection for the automatic emergency braking.

At home on the range. The 2022 figures haven’t been published yet, but we already know from the 2021 model year that the ID.4 is an extremely efficient vehicle. The single-motor RWD configuration delivers around 260 miles of range, while AWD models drop to 240 miles – still more than enough for most buyers. Rivals like the Hyundai IONIQ 5 will trump the ID.4’s EPA-rated efficiency of 93-99 MPGe, but the VW does perform better than Audi’s E-Tron in this regard. A 135 kW DC fast charge unit will put 75% charge into the battery in less than 40 minutes.

Final thoughts. Mainstream electric vehicles are still relatively new, but the ID.4 is a mature take on the concept. Its purpose-built cabin is as spacious as you’d expect without any ICE intrusions, there are plenty of electrical gadgets to entertain and comfort, while the gorgeous cabin lighting deserves particular praise. This is a comfortable, refined, and impressively efficient vehicle that gets on with transporting a whole family without fuss.

Drawbacks are minor if plentiful – the infotainment system is rough around the edges, the regenerative braking can be grabby, performance is underwhelming by EV standards and the capacitive controls are an acquired taste at best. It’s also worth noting that higher trims are unjustifiably expensive, while some technologies are reserved for even pricier Audi models in an irritating game of brand one-upmanship.

Check prices for the 2022 Volkswagen ID.4 »