Volkswagen ID.4 vs. Tesla Model Y

By

Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


, Automotive Editor - May 18, 2021

There’s no doubt about it: the future is electric. More major automakers are hopping aboard the EV train, and the latest to do so is Volkswagen with the all-new ID.4. One of a growing number of electric crossovers, the ID.4 heads into battle with a current industry leader, the Tesla Model Y.

Does the zero-emissions VW ID.4 have what it takes to win Tesla buyers? Here's a comparison of some of the key specs and features to help you more easily make an informed decision when buying either one of these 100% electric SUVs.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Volkswagen ID.4 & the Tesla Model Y »

What The ID.4 Gets Right

At first glance, the ID.4 and the Model Y seem to have a nearly identical starting price of around $40,000. That story gets complicated quickly: the Standard Range trim of the Model Y was recently discontinued, which means that the cheapest version starts closer to $50,000. What’s more, Tesla vehicles no longer qualify for a federal tax credit, while the ID.4 remains eligible for a $7,500 credit.

The upshot: the ID.4 comes out substantially cheaper. For the price, it comes with a strong set of features, including heated front seats and wireless smartphone charging. Unlike the Tesla, the ID.4 comes with smartphone compatibility for either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Also included is three years of Electrify America fast charging for road trips, which helps smooth the transition into electric-car ownership.

The ID.4 is slightly shorter than the Tesla, but it makes good use of its space. Passenger space is plentiful, and while the ID.4 still feels futuristic, it steers clear of the techno-minimalism that has become a hallmark of Tesla models. You’ll find a traditional instrument cluster, which is a plus for many buyers.

What The Model Y Gets Right

On paper, the Model Y has several clear advantages over the ID.4. In Long Range form, the Model Y can travel up to 326 miles on a charge, which easily exceeds the ID.4’s maximum of 260. In Performance trims, the Model Y completes the 0-60 sprint in 3.5 seconds — less than half what the ID.4 takes. To round out the performance advantages, the Model Y boasts a higher efficiency (a class-leading 129 MPGe) and a higher towing capacity (up to 3,500 pounds).

Tesla’s charging network is a major argument in the brand’s favor, and the Model Y can charge more quickly than the ID.4 Tesla claims that a Model Y can charge up to 80% in about 20 minutes. The ID.4 takes 38.

While the ID.4 comes with active safety features like adaptive cruise control, it can’t match Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving systems. This tech adds a substantial premium to the Model Y, but brings nifty tricks like an auto-summoning mode for parking lots. Between the two, the Model Y also has a smoother and faster infotainment system.

The Way Forward

From a technological standpoint, both cars are impressive. Both are practical and comfortable, and the cargo space between the two is nearly identical.

For maximum potency and versatility, Tesla still comes out on top. The Model Y is faster, more efficient, and more convenient on long trips thanks to the quick-charging network. As you’d expect, the Model Y’s technology is cutting-edge.

Still, the ID.4 makes a strong case for itself on two virtues: value and familiarity. Some buyers don’t enjoy the sparse screen-focused ecosystem of Tesla’s cars, and the ID.4 feels more like a regular car. Add in the substantial savings, and the ID.4’s shorter range seems less of an imposition.

Our Verdict: Volkswagen ID.4 (for now)

The Model Y remains an impressive car, but as long as there’s no Standard Range model, the ID.4’s value is too good to ignore. It may not be as fast or as futuristic, but it gets the important jobs done well. It represents another small step toward an affordable electric future, and for that, it earns our praise.

Take a closer look at the Volkswagen ID.4 »

Take a closer look at the Tesla Model Y »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


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