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What's the difference between the single-motor 2021 VW ID 4 and its dual-motor, all-wheel-drive sibling? Not much. And that's the point. If the rear-drive ID 4 leaves you wanting for just a little more, the AWD Pro trim should deliver.
The standard ID 4 is a little pokey thanks to its powertrain, a single motor on the rear axle producing 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. Thankfully, the ID 4 was built from the outset with a second motor in mind. Residing up front, this additional power source adds 107 hp and 119 lb-ft to the equation for a net 295 hp and 339 lb-ft, numbers that should appeal to those seeking more electric punch.
While the front motor generally only kicks in when it detects slippage in the rear, all four wheels will dig into the pavement if I pound the accelerator from a stop. The power bump is immediately noticeable, with the ID 4 AWD Pro reaching 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds, a 2-second improvement over the RWD variant. It's not going to win many drag races, but that's still enough acceleration to excite most drivers and passengers.
Once the excitement wears off and the speedometer steadies, there's still plenty to love about the ID 4 AWD Pro. The ride quality is excellent, thanks in part to my tester's 235/55R19 Hankook Kinergy all-season tires, which offer plenty of sidewall to help absorb whatever the roadway tries to dish out. It's a little less composed when tight corners show up, feeling surprisingly ponderous for something with a heavy battery this close to the pavement, but considering this isn't a GTI, handling isn't really the car's raison d'être.
The steering doesn't provide much feedback, but the ID 4 is still mighty maneuverable; its 36.4-foot turning radius might be a little worse than the RWD model's 33.5-foot figure, but it can still pivot in the city with authority. The brake pedal is very nicely tuned, blending the friction and regenerative stopping nearly seamlessly. Sadly, you won't find a one-pedal mode here, nor is there currently a way to disable the creep when letting off the brakes -- for now, because Volkswagen promises to add a brake-hold function in a coming over-the-air software update, which is about the same thing, minus any incline-based rollback.
Given the ID 4 AWD Pro's 200-ish-pound weight gain over the rear-drive variant, it's no surprise that range drops a bit, as well. The AWD ID 4 is rated at 249 miles, dropping to 240 miles with the better-equipped Pro S trim, numbers that are only 10 miles lower than its equivalent rear-drive siblings. Over my week with my Pro-trim tester, I find the range estimate pretty accurate, although some wild temperature swings do make things a little more difficult, as I keep reaching for the seat and steering-wheel heaters, which of course aren't warming my extremities for free.
VW includes three years of charging at Electrify America fast chargers for free with every purchase, but since the closest EA chargers are dozens of miles from my home in Detroit, I'm relying on my local ChargePoint network. The fast chargers around me are delivering 60 kW of juice, so I can hook up the car, go have a long lunch and come back to a topped-off battery. Using a more traditional 50-amp Level 2 charger, it'll take about 7.5 hours to fully charge, which isn't bad at home.
The ID 4's base Pro trim has a pretty solid complement of standard tech, starting with a 10-inch touchscreen running the latest version of Volkswagen's infotainment system, which I've also experienced on the eighth-generation Golf GTI and Golf R. A 12-inch screen is offered on Pro S variants, but the functionality is the same. This isn't my favorite infotainment system, thanks to laggy inputs and some features that are hidden behind word-averse menu icons, but it's nice that embedded navigation is standard, as are wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Wireless device charging is blissfully standard across the board, too, but fans of the tether will enjoy seeing four USB-C ports scattered about the cabin, two per row.
Connected to the steering column is the cutest little gauge cluster. This small screen sticks to the basics, offering road speed, range, a diagram for monitoring lane-keep assist and, when active, turn-by-turn directions. I love how no-nonsense it is, but I wish I could turn off the lane-keep portion for an even cleaner look. Otherwise, it's nice to see a cluster that's not determined to replicate the normal infotainment screen's functions word for word.
On the safety front, all the bells and whistles are standard. Every ID 4 comes with VW's IQ Drive suite of active and passive driver aids, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, full-speed adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist. Automatic high beams and parking sensors are gratis, as well.
With the exception of the 0.6-inch lift that comes with the second motor, you'll have a hard time telling the VW ID 4 AWD Pro apart from rear-drive variants. Sure, there's a fender badge, but otherwise the two cars are functionally identical. And that's fine, because I dig the ID 4's design. It doesn't come off as anything more than a compact crossover with fun styling. My tester's gray paint plays well with the darker trim above the windows and on the bumpers and side skirts, and Pro S owners can zhush things up further with a $1,500 package that adds larger alloy wheels, a black roof and silver accents on the roof and C-pillar.
The ID 4's interior is equally progressive, and I really like it. There are a few harder plastics in here, but on the whole, the build quality is on par for a $40,000 Volkswagen, which is to say everything feels solid and generally high-quality. You get a fancier interior with leatherette on Pro S trims, but my Pro tester doesn't exactly feel like a base model. The cloth seats are comfortable and heat up quickly, and there's plenty of room in the second row for kids and adults alike. All the way out back is a 30.3-cubic-foot trunk that has no problem eating up a family's worth of groceries or weekend bags, and that expands to 64.2 cubes with the second-row seats folded down. That's about what you get with a Ford Bronco Sport, but it lags behind the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
The real draw inside the ID 4 is its daily-use functionality. There's a ton of storage space in the cabin, thanks in part to a well-designed center console. The cup holders can't hold larger Nalgenes, but you can remove the insert and use the area as a large storage tray inside. Just behind that is a simply cavernous cubby with removable separators that can function as a Nalgene holder as necessary, but I just empty my pockets into it instead, and it works great for that, too.
VW did make some odd decisions in the cabin, though. There are no rear window switches for the driver, only a "rear" capacitive button that lets a single pair of rockers work both pairs of windows that takes an unnecessary amount of concentration to operate. The capacitive slider for the temperature is right next to the display's power button, so I find myself muting the audio most times I want to lower cabin temps.
EVs still aren't cheap, and the 2021 VW ID 4 is no exception. Prior to any federal, state or local incentives, the ID 4 AWD Pro will set you back $44,870 (including $1,195 for destination), while the higher AWD Pro S trim bumps that up to $49,370. For those of you keeping track at home, AWD adds a $3,680 price premium to rear-drive variants. But it's not like you don't get a great standard-equipment loadout on any trim; base models get nice things like LED headlights, automatic wipers, full keyless access, ambient lighting, heated seats, a heated steering wheel and all the aforementioned tech.
While VW says some buyers are coming from Tesla models and the Chevrolet Bolt, it really wants to convert CR-V and RAV4 owners who want to go electric but don't want to wait for their current automaker to get around to it. And given how much stuff you get in the ID 4 AWD Pro, it shouldn't be the hardest sell in the universe. It's a well-equipped EV that is cool and composed, with a bit more all-weather peace of mind thanks to that second electric motor.