Hands-on with the ChatGPT-enabled VW ID.4, with big 2024 model year changes

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We got the chance to drive the new 2024 ID.4 and found an impressive amount of changes from last model year – at least on the 82kWh version.

The 2024 ID.4 is just a new model year, but with the amount of changes that VW has made, it feels like a mid-cycle refresh. We don’t usually go to drive events for individual model year improvements, but after driving this one, it definitely had enough changes to make the drive worthwhile.

That said – all of these changes are ONLY on the bigger battery 82kWh version. The 62kWh base model ID.4 is exactly the same as last year’s model, though has received a price bump from last year, which started 2023 at a price of $37,495, then got a $1,500 price hike mid-year, and has been bumped further in 2024 up to $39,735 before destination fees.

The VW ID.4 does currently qualify for the full $7,500 US federal EV tax credit – the only car made by a foreign automaker to qualify, due to local production in Chattanooga, Tennessee – and the credit is now available upfront at the point of sale. This makes the 62kWh version quite attractive at a ~$32k base price after credit.

But since we’re talking about the 82kWh version, we should talk about that base price instead. The 2024 with the changes we saw starts at $44,875, which is still in line with the entry price of many of the other EVs out today (Ioniq 5 $42k, Model Y $44k, etc.). And again, the 82kWh ID.4 does also qualify for the full federal tax credit, bringing the price down to ~$38k.

So, what are all these big changes?

A better rear motor means more power and more efficiency

Among other things, the 82kWh ID.4 is more powerful and more efficient, due to an improved rear motor. The front motor remains the same, so RWD models will gain more improvement than AWD models.

The RWD is now 282hp with 402 lb-ft of torque, while the AWD is 335hp with 99lb-ft in the front and 402lb-ft in the rear.

This brings RWD 0-60 times to 5.9 seconds, down from 7.7, and AWD 0-60 is at 4.9 seconds, down from 5.7.

But not only does it have more power, it’s also more efficient – a rare feat. More efficiency means that the same size battery can go farther, so the 2024 RWD ID.4 now has 291 miles of EPA-estimated range, up from 275, and the AWD version has 263 miles, up from 255.

As for the drive experience of the ID.4, we drove the new RWD version on a foggy and cold day on the Angeles Crest Highway and it felt perfectly… acceptable. The ID.4 is focused on being more of an everyman’s car, not a sportscar. So it delivered a comfortable drive, with the power required for comfortable driving tasks.

It handled well on the twisty road we took it on, though the tires did seem to be working hard. Like most EVs, the ID.4 exhibited very little body roll around corners due to a low center of gravity from the battery located low in the vehicle.

Power was as much as a normal driver would need, and power delivery is smooth rather than punchy. I do tend to prefer a more punchy power delivery, and really dislike when automakers build a delay into throttle response, but the ID.4 doesn’t feel laggy (unlike the Blazer EV or Fisker Ocean that I’ve driven recently).

Like other VW Group EVs (including Audi, Porsche etc.), the ID.4 is not really capable of one-pedal driving, at least not to the degree of EVs with stronger regen like Tesla, Leaf and Bolt.

Putting the car in “B” mode does enable some amount of regenerative braking, which we were able to get to decelerate the car down to 5mph even while going down a hill. However, the regen was still quite light, and I found myself reaching for the brake pedal when entering flowing canyon corners, whereas in other EVs I would simply let off the accelerator to get the braking I wanted.

2024 VW ID.4 foggy angeles crest

I remain convinced that VW needs to increase regenerative braking strength on its EVs – and in talking to VW representatives at the event, it sounds like they’ve been hearing the same elsewhere and may finally be considering doing so.

I wouldn’t consider either of these issues particularly galling (well, maybe the regen one, because I’ve been one-pedal driving for 15 years now), but they are issues that could easily be fixed by allowing customers to select different drive modes based on their preferences.

And the ID.4 does have drive modes (ECO, comfort, sport, and “custom” where you can mix and match), but we felt very little difference between these modes. I would like to see them differentiate more between the modes – options for significantly heavier steering , punchier throttle, stronger regen, etc.

The biggest change I could find is that these different modes do change the color of the UI, so, I guess you can pick your drive mode based on whether you like red, blue, or a-slightly-different-blue as your UI accent color.

Now that we’re talking about the UI, the 2024 model has a significantly improved user interface, which we were quite impressed with.

Big UI changes vastly improve user experience

I’m a tough customer when it comes to any sort of digital user interface. I’ve said many times that most automotive UIs are terrible, with the exception of the EV startups. And most automakers seemed to have given up on making usable infotainment systems, instead ceding that work to Apple or Google with CarPlay and Android Auto. The ID.4 does come with both systems, and if you like those systems, you can go ahead and keep using them.

But VW made quite a few changes to its base user interface, and these are welcome. The screen is now 12.9 inches instead of 12 inches, though most of the new space is taken up by a persistent climate control display, giving access to fan speed controls and split temperature controls for driver and passenger. It also allows operation of the ventilated seats, which are new for the 2024 model.

Temperature and volume controls are also available with a physical touch bar below the display. This touch bar is now illuminated in the 2024 model, as in the previous model it was hard to see at night.

VW updated its EV route planner for the 2024 model, which can now include up to 10 charging stops on a route, and takes into account both Electrify America stations and others (though no NACS yet, but we expect that’s coming soon™).

To use it, you just input a destination and the car will plan your charge stops for you, telling you where to stop, for how long, will automatically precondition the battery to optimize charging times, and will update live to show you how many free chargers there are at the stop (though this is in tiny font, in dark grey on a light grey background – more visibility would be better on this UI feature).

While we didn’t get to test fast charging (which is up to 175kW on the 2024 model, up from 170kW before), the route planning function worked extremely quickly, planning out a long multi-stop route in only a couple seconds – even quicker than Tesla’s system does it.

And you can customize the settings, telling your car to ensure you don’t go under a certain percentage while driving or that you have at least a certain amount of range at your destination (e.g. if you’re traveling to a place you won’t have overnight charging at). One UI screen tells you an estimate of how fast you would charge if you charged right now, so while we don’t know the actual charge curve of the car just yet, you can get a sense of it by looking at this screen.

Another relevant charging-related change is that the ID.4 just recently (finally) got plug & charge. This was rolled out to 2023 models on Electrify America stations just last month, but the 2024 model will be able to use Plug & Charge on non-EA stations as well. Plug & Charge is the name of a feature that allows you to just plug into a DC charge station and walk away without having to open any apps or swipe any cards or anything – a similar experience to using a Tesla Supercharger.

UI controls were reasonably responsive in general, partially due to updated processing speed and memory for the infotainment system (though it’s still not buttery-smooth as you would expect from an iPad, which frankly is the bar that all automakers should aspire to), though the layout of sub-menus was sometimes confusing and hard to find things in. This would probably go away with some experience, but we did skip over a few of the sub menus we were looking for due to being named with generic-sounding headings like “basic functions.”

The software improvements on this car are notable, given that VW has had some difficulty with EV software timelines in the past. Its Cariad software unit, created in 2020 to improve EV software issues and deliver over-the-air updates to vehicles (basically, to make VW’s software more Tesla-like), has had problems getting up to speed, to the point where the unit’s difficulties reportedly were a large contributor to former CEO Herbert Diess’ departure. In October, the company tapped some EV startup veterans to try to fix these problems.

And some other small physical changes were made, like a slight relocation of the PRND level for better visibility, and moving the hazard button downward slightly, because previously it was easy to accidentally press it when reaching for the touchscreen (as pointed out by Electrek‘s very own Michelle Lewis, who owns an ID.4 herself).

A new LED strip has been added at the base of the windshield, which we’ve seen on several other vehicles lately. But rather than just being ambient lighting (which the car also has, and it’s adjustable), VW has made the windshield strip functional. It syncs with the nav system and swipes a blue streak across the strip to tell you which direction you need to turn, and it shows certain alerts, like flashing red when the car’s safety sensors want to tell you something. I really liked this feature.

A ChatGPT-enabled voice assistant in your ID.4

One feature that we found to be quite cool was the new ChatGPT-enabled voice assistant function. VW says it’s the “first volume manufacturer to make this innovative technology a standard feature in vehicles from the compact segment upwards,” though we have seen a beta of something similar from Mercedes.

This is an extension of VW’s “IDA” (get it? it looks like “ID.4”) voice assistant, who can be called up by pressing a steering wheel button or saying “hey IDA.” It allows control over an impressive set of vehicle functions, which you can see a partial list of by digging through the IDA menus. All of this is theoretically accessible through natural language search, so you don’t have to say specific catchphrases, but you can just talk to your car and she’ll figure out what you’re looking for.

In practice, though we didn’t use it extensively, it did reasonably well at understanding our meaning, though it wasn’t 100% accurate. There were definitely times that we had to restate or rephrase our questions to get a good answer out of the voice assistant, but that’s something we have all unfortunately come to expect out of these types of systems. In terms of voice recognition it was quick and reasonably accurate, and the wide range of things that it can do was better than other voice assistant systems we’ve seen in cars.

But maybe the neatest aspect of the IDA system is that you don’t have to call it IDA. You can in fact call it anything you want, by changing the “wake word” in software. Behold!

(to VW: I’m sorry, your voice assistant is actually quite nice and did not deserve the abusive name, I am just a child)

Honestly, this is a feature that I just love. It’s such a simple thing to be able to change the wake word, but it makes so much sense, especially in an automotive context.

On the one hand it enables dumb jokes like mine above, but on the other hand it’s a genuine improvement (e.g. if someone in your home is named Ciri, or if you ever talk “seriously” about anything, it can be confusing to have an Apple device around), and it dovetails quite well with the already-existing societal trend of people naming their cars. Now you can actually name your car something, and it will respond to that name!

If nothing else, it’s a great crowd pleaser, and it worked within moments the first time we tried it. Any VW dealer who wants to sell a car, just sit the customer down inside and show them a demo of this one feature and you’ll surely surprise and delight them.

Conclusion and availability

Despite the tendency of VW Group EVs to make some “safe” choices (like no one-pedal driving), in keeping with their somewhat traditional stance as far as automakers go, I found myself saying “oh, that’s cool” a lot of times during our quick couple hours with the car, mostly related to the various UI improvements made. They seem to have done a solid job here.

In fact, there’s so many changes that I even asked VW if it would be appropriate to call this a mid-cycle refresh, particularly given that the car is ~3 years old now. They said no, because usually those involve some sort of change to the exterior sheet metal of the vehicle (the only exterior changes are wheels – 20in on the AWD entry level, and 21in on the AWD/RWD S Plus trim), but that the 2024 is indeed a “strong” model year update.

And, once again, all of these changes are only on the more expensive 82kWh version, not the base model 62kWh version. This is a bit disappointing, because VW did tout the 62kWh’s attractive entry price in its presentation to us, though all of the new features are gated behind a $5,140 upgrade to a larger battery which many customers just don’t need.

But, maybe these changes will migrate down the model range when the real mid-cycle refresh comes, perhaps in another year or two. We can hope, anyway.

Regardless, big upgrades here. If you were considering getting an ID.4 already, you can be even happier at the value proposition once the 2024s hit dealerships, which happens in March.

If you’d like, you can use our links to contact your local dealers about the 2024 VW ID.4, and get yourself in line for when they’re delivered in this coming month.

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