2023 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD Review and Test Drive

Futuristic looks and fun driving dynamics — plus some semi-autonomous safety tech.

2023 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD aurora red metallicSebastian Blanco

Article QuickTakes:

Volkswagen's all-electric ID.4 has had a rough few years. Customer frustrations over delays in providing what some drivers considered necessary updates to the EV's infotainment and navigation capabilities marred the model's 2021 introduction. There were also separate software issues with the battery-management system. Since then, VW has stepped up to the plate to make those updates, and has an entire line of all-electric ID vehicles on the way.

2023 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD aurora red metallicSebastian Blanco

The list of changes for the 2023 ID.4 includes a 12-inch infotainment screen, a new top-level trim, and an illuminated logo option. VW also tweaked the wheels, styling, exterior trim, and available paint colors. On the inside, there are differences in the fabric and trim.

The biggest change for the 2023 ID.4, though, is that VW now makes all of the ID.4s it sells in the U.S. in Tennessee. In April 2023, VW confirmed that all 2023 ID.4s purchased in the U.S. this year will qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

The 2023 Volkswagen ID.4 has rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD) and comes in Standard/Pro, S, and Pro S Plus trim levels. Prices start around $40,000 and rise to the mid-$50,000s, including the destination charge to ship the SUV from the factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to your local dealership.

For this ID.4 review, I drove an AWD Pro S trim in mid-Michigan in midwinter. It came with only one option, Aurora Red Metallic exterior paint, bringing the manufacturer's suggested retail price to $54,485, including the $1,295 destination charge. Volkswagen provided me with a weeklong vehicle loan for this ID.4 review.

2023 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD Review: The Design

2023 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD aurora red metallic front interiorSebastian Blanco

The ID.4 still looks like it's from the near future, with a front end that lights up just enough to get noticed in the growing field of other EVs. The 2023 version has new wheel designs and some gloss black highlights up front. I found the changes nice enough, but to me, the ID.4 has always looked appealing rather than outright gorgeous, with a vibe that's approachable and confident, not ostentatious.

The cabin blends the clean design of the exterior with what I found to be a mildly frustrating user experience. The test vehicle had the Galaxy interior with artificial leather, and the lines and shapes in various grays and silvers made the ID.4 feel open and airy. My first impression was positive.

One change from previous ID.4s is a new center console designed for U.S. drivers. VW also installed higher armrests that move the cupholders into new positions. In my opinion, this update is absolutely the right decision.

The standard infotainment display is a Discover Pro Max screen; there's an ID.Cockpit driver's screen located above the steering wheel that, like the rest of the cabin, is practical and ready for action.

2023 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD aurora red metallic rear interiorSebastian Blanco

However, every time I wanted to adjust the temperature, I had to wonder why VW didn't improve what I found to be bewildering temperature controls. Additionally, there are just two window buttons on the driver's armrest, and I had to operate a toggle to switch functionality to the front or back windows. The good news is that I got used to these so-called buttons after spending more time with the ID.4.

Minor control quirks aside, I found the ID.4's comfort features to be thoughtfully applied in the higher trim levels. For example, ID.Light is a narrow light strip under the windscreen that flashes changing light signals to alert the driver to things such as upcoming turns or if the battery is being charged. It's fun, adding another level to the futuristic feel of the ID.4.

2023 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD aurora red metallic cargo spaceSebastian Blanco

The heated front seats came in handy during the cold, but the test model did not have the heated outer rear seats that VW includes on the top S Plus trim. That didn't matter much, as I only packed people into the rear seats on one occasion, when we all learned two things. First, the flat shape of the electric powertrain means there is room back there for three tall, if cramped, adults. Second, tall adults will likely trigger the touch-activated rear passenger reading lights with their hair in this particular situation. We found it funny, but only the first few times.

There's no frunk (front trunk) in an ID.4, but it can still carry enough cargo to compete with other compact SUVs. A two-level load floor in the ID.4's trunk allows you to have a flat loading area or up to 64.2 cubic feet of maximum cargo space with the rear seats folded down. The ID.4 AWD Pro can tow up to 2,700 pounds.

2023 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD Review: The Technology

2023 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD navigation systemSebastian Blanco

The 2023 ID.4's infotainment system includes wireless Apple CarPlay, which was easy for me to set up (wireless Android Auto is also available) and worked without a hitch. That said, the ID.4's built-in software wasn't as simple for me to use.

For example, I had a hard time finding a few critical settings within the menu structure, like where to turn off the audio feedback for the virtual button presses on the screen. Still, for 2023 ID.4 models, VW's Car-Net service adds helpful things like vehicle health reports and the ability to see vehicle status remotely.

My test vehicle had a seven-speaker sound system, and while it didn't encourage me to rock out and shake the windows, Pearl Jam's "Gigaton" sounded right coming through them.

As for safety tech, VW for 2023 made some additions to its IQ.Drive collection of advanced driving assistance systems. For example: Cyclist detection has become part of the forward-collision warning and emergency braking system. In addition, the ID.4's Park Assist Plus with Memory Parking system can learn up to five different parking maneuvers, and you may feel (as I did) as though the future has arrived when the ID.4 takes what you've shown it and automatically parks itself the next time you come home. I've had trouble with the ID.4's self-parking ability in the past, but it was easy to teach the car its lesson at home this time around. I almost wished I didn't work remotely so I could also teach it how to park at my office.

2023 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD safety system on infotainment screenSebastian Blanco

The 2023 ID.4 also features an advancement in the lane-changing assistant within VW's "semi-automated hands-on driving" system, Travel Assist. With Travel Assist, as long as the ID.4's sensors think you're paying attention to the road, the car will use the adaptive cruise control to accelerate and brake to keep up with traffic while also staying centered within the lane.

For 2023, Travel Assist can also change lanes to pass slower vehicles on its own once you've used the turn signal to tell the car you want to. The tech first determines if a lane change is safe and then steers into the next lane.

That said, if IQ.Drive is unable to help you avoid a collision, the ID.4 earns favorable crash-test ratings. The EV received a 2023 Top Safety Pick+ designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a five-star overall crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

2023 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD Review: The Drive

2023 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD aurora red metallic engine under hoodSebastian Blanco

From what I experienced, the ID.4 is unlikely to draw many complaints from buyers about initial acceleration. It was a joy each time I pressed the accelerator pedal, even though the ID.4 is an electric crossover designed for the masses. There may be quicker EVs out there, but the ID.4 packs in plenty of punchy fun.

If you're looking for more of that acceleration thrill, the ID.4 AWD models are the ones to test drive. In addition to the 201-hp electric motor that turns the rear wheels in all ID.4s, the AWD models get a second motor on the front axle, bringing the total power output to 295 horsepower. That means the AWD models can get up to 60 mph in less than six seconds, according to Volkswagen.

2023 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD aurora red metallicSebastian Blanco

The 2023 ID.4 AWD is available with only one battery option, an 82-kWh pack that the EPA estimates will give the car 255 miles of driving range on a full charge. VW also includes three years of free 30-minute charging sessions at Electrify America's fast-charging network, which should help cover owners on road trips. Since I have charging available at home, I didn't need to take advantage of the ID.4's new ability to fast charge at up to 170 kW. Previously, the EV's maximum rate was 135 kW.

During my wintertime week with the ID.4, my efficiency was 37 kWh per 100 miles. That falls short of the official EPA rating of 34 kWh per 100 miles but is easy to understand, given the cold weather. Cold temperatures slow down some of the chemical processes in the battery, reducing the power available. In addition, EVs also need to use energy from the battery to heat the cabin, since they don't get the benefit of "waste" heat from a combustion engine.

2023 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD aurora red metallicSebastian Blanco

I did my best to improve the ID.4's efficiency by using the strongest regenerative braking setting. Choosing the right setting for the drive you're on is one of the thrills of EV driving, in my opinion, even if the brake pedal felt slightly soft in all of the ID.4's three regenerative levels.

The ID.4's AWD system kept the car perfectly stable on the winter roads, perhaps aided by the extra weight of the second motor and larger battery pack. I found that Volkswagen had tuned the four-wheel independent suspension softly enough to emphasize ride comfort, yet the steering was tight and there was minimal body roll in the corners.

There are four drive modes in the ID.4, and even in the most efficient mode, the ID.4 excelled at making me feel confident about finding my place on the road while cruising around, all quiet and smooth. Comfort mode is ideally suited to long highway stretches, while Sport emphasizes the front motor for slightly quicker acceleration from a stop.

Is the 2023 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD a Good Electric Vehicle?

2023 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD aurora red metallicSebastian Blanco

My time with the 2023 Volkswagen ID.4 indicates that it's a good electric vehicle hampered by a frustrating infotainment system user interface. However, thanks to software updates, I believe VW is steadily improving this aspect of the ID.4.

In addition, the 2023 ID.4 qualifies for the full $7,500 federal tax credit, an important detail to consider when assessing the VW's value equation. The ID.4 is also a relatively safe vehicle, thanks to its IQ.Drive collection of safety features and top-notch crash-test ratings.

Whether or not the ID.4 is for you may come down to style. If you like how the ID.4 looks and don't find using the infotainment system and controls a challenge, you may be happy with one in the long run.

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Sebastian Blanco
Sebastian Blanco has been writing about electric vehicles, hybrids, and hydrogen cars since 2006. His first green-car media event was the launch of the first Tesla Roadster in 2006, an event where he almost elbowed Arnold Schwarzenegger in the groin. Since then, he has been tracking the shift away from gasoline-powered vehicles and discovering the new technology's importance not just for the auto industry, but for the world as a whole.