2023 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD Pro S

If you read my stuff you know all my normal problems with EVs, and they really have little to do with the vehicles.

One criticism I have with many EVs is that they try too hard to be different. Either the styling is way out there, or the controls are not normal. Case in point is the VW ID.4.

I am not super techie but I get by. At best I probably only use 50% of my smart phone's features. I have argued before that if EVs are going to appeal to mainstream buyers they should not be too outré. I realize that there is a large minority of folks out there that love their tech but I would also argue that there is a larger group who really don't care about the connectivity of their personal transportation.

I also don't understand why so many car companies seem to want to reinvent the wheel so to speak. I think there are a lot of people who don't want to read the owner's manual to find out how to shift from reverse to drive. It is ironic that back when an owner's manual was nothing more than a pamphlet a common complaint was that no one ever read one. Now the manuals are hundreds of pages of minute instructions that are often confusing. I like a good book but these are ridiculous! If it takes two-to-four hundred pages to explain the workings of your car maybe, just maybe, it is too complicated.

Another of my pet peeves is the ongoing quest to reinvent the gear shifter. Why? Has there been a huge hue and cry about the old fashioned automatic gear shift lever? Regardless auto companies keep trying new things, devices that can be confusing. Like the ID.4's device.

Yes that's it; it sits on the right side of the instrument screen. To operate you twist it, down for Reverse and up for Drive (I'm not sure what the "B" stands for as I didn't get that far in the manual). Many new cars have a separate button for Park but I couldn't see one for the ID.4. I was about ready to give up and once more pull out the manual when I happened to see it on the end of the twisty-shifter! It is hidden behind the steering wheel.

At first I couldn't figure out why the driver's door window switch only had controls for the two front windows. It made no sense. Then after putting on my reading glasses I saw it, a little switch that changed those two switches from front to rear. Why? Is having four switches, something that has been common for decades, too complicated?

Volkswagen says the estimated range for the ID.4 is 275 miles. Sounds pretty good. I had planned trip of approximately 80.5 miles one way. I took the ID.4 to a charging station and after a few hours I got a message that it was charged. When I got in the ID.4 it said it was 80% charged. Now 80% of 275 is 220 miles, more than enough for a round trip so off I went. When I got there the ID.4 said it was down to 40% (50% of its starting charge) but it also showed that there was less than 80 miles of range. So the search for a working charging station was on.

The first charging station I tried had three connections and two weren't working. So I connected to the working one, except it didn't want to work either. And then it wouldn't let me disconnected it from the ID.4. I had to call the customer service number and after an aggravating 5-10 minutes they advised me to start the car and immediately turn it off. That worked. 

I found the next charging station a couple of miles away. It had two connections and only one worked. Everything went fine except for the painfully slow charge rate. I went for lunch, came back and had a nap and after about two hours I figured I'd be good to go; the ID.4 said I had about 34% charge. That should have worked out to 93.5 miles. But no, the last 10 miles to home were white knuckle because the "YOU'RE OUT OF CHARGE!" orange warning was on the whole way. I plugged it in at a nearby public school with ChargePoint charging stations and left it for four hours. It now had just under 40% of charge (supposedly).

All of the charging was at Level 2, the Level of most home chargers. Waiting for the car to charge was a huge time waster. Thankfully I was not on a tight schedule. 

Ignoring the EV part of the ID.4, just looking at it as a SUV, it wasn't bad. It looks stylish to me. We went to some yard sales and bought a chair that fit nicely in the back. There is up to 64.2 cubic feet of storage with the second row folded flat. It will seat five nicely. The front seats were of VW's traditional firm but comfortable design.

The ID.4 had so much promise. I like Volkswagens; I liked the first Golf EV even though it had little range (100 miles or so if I remember). But a combination of the ID.4's quirkiness, the rather poor charging opportunities, and the state of our power grid just turned me off.

I was never really sure if I'd shut off the ID.4. I'd pull into a parking spot, push the button and although the screen's images changed they kind of made me think it was still in operating mode. Only when I opened the door and took my foot off the brake pedal did the screen say "Goodbye". You don't have to push the lock button on the fob, just walk away and you hear the locks clunk. I actually walked away, gave the fob to my wife who then went into our house, and I walked back to make sure the ID.4 was locked. It was. 

The ID.4 has to be one of the strangest cars I've driven in my almost 60 years of driving. 

A base ID.4 with RWD starts at $38,995, the most expensive ID.4 AWD Pro S Plus is $55,245. 


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