Volkswagen just officially pulled the silk off of the 2021 ID4, the latest member of an all-electric lineup of cars and SUVs. VW says the new SUV, the name for which it stylizes as “ID.4,” is the company’s first long-range EV for the United States—the e-Golf was merely a baby step toward electrification. Also unlike the e-Golf, the ID4 will be the first chance U.S. customers will have to experience an entirely new exterior and interior design language from the German automaker. (Europe got a head start with the ID3 hatchback, which won’t be coming here.) If you want all the specs on the ID4, including range and charging info, you can check out our 2021 Volkswagen ID4 First Look here. But earlier this week, MotorTrend got an in-person preview of the ID4 in the metal, and it both impresses and leaves some things to be desired.
Inside, the design is fresh for VW, if a little Spartan. The ID4 isn’t a concept—we were shown a preproduction model—but it has the minimalist styling inside you’d expect of a concept car flexing a little design muscle. At first glance, it seems too minimal—”hmm, that’s it?”—but what you do get is a step in the right direction for a car that is essentially paving the way for VW’s electric future.
Volkswagen’s new infotainment system is more user-friendly than ever. Getting used to its smartphone-like user interface is a cinch. The upgraded 12.0-inch display is bright and slightly angled towards the driver to make it easier to see. It’s also snappier in most places than VW’s previous infotainment system, which could take a beat or two to register your inputs and respond accordingly.
The infotainment’s icons are easy to understand, user-friendly, and with a more intuitive menu structure for HVAC, navigation, and media controls. And while we’ll always prefer a conventional volume knob, the touch-sensitive volume slider is much more responsive than the ones maligned in past Hondas and Cadillacs. That’s good because everything is touch-sensitive. The controls for the exterior lights, cabin lighting, steering-wheel-mounted functions, and even the mirror-adjustment controls are touch-sensitive capacitive panels. That will certainly take more getting used to than the new infotainment software.
The instrument cluster, however, is a tiny digital display mounted on the steering column, so it moves as you tilt the steering wheel up and down. That seems fine on paper, but the amount of info VW tried to cram into a 5.3-inch screen makes it feel cluttered, and some of the info isn’t perfectly within the driver’s line of sight. It’s a noticeable change—and