Introduced for 2021, the Volkswagen ID.4 is the German automaker’s first all-electric SUV and part of a new wave of electric vehicles for American consumers. It boasts a spacious interior and styling that’s futuristic but not too futuristic.
The ID.4 is the upstart against two established rivals: The Tesla Model 3 and Model Y. The Model Y is an SUV but it’s considerably more expensive than the ID.4. As such, the popular Model 3 sedan, which is versatile in its own right, is an excellent yardstick to measure against. Edmunds’ experts compared the ID.4 and Model 3 to find out which one is the better buy.
RANGE AND CHARGING
On a full charge, the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 delivers an EPA-estimated range of 240-260 miles depending on trim level. The base Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus boasts an EPA-estimated 263 miles of range, while the aptly named Long Range model claims 353 miles of range. This might seem like an easy win for Tesla, but there’s more to it than that.
The ID.4 outperformed its EPA estimates in Edmunds’ real-world range testing, with an ID.4 Pro going 28 miles farther than its estimated 260 miles on a full charge. Meanwhile, all of the Tesla Model 3s Edmunds has tested through the years have come up slightly short in real-world driving range compared to the EPA estimates. The upshot: Yes, the Model 3 can go farther on a full charge than the ID.4, but the difference in everyday driving isn’t as big as the EPA estimates suggest.
Both EVs are easy to charge at home and can be quickly recharged at DC fast-charging stations. The Model 3 does have an advantage because of Tesla’s proprietary Supercharger network. These chargers have more convenient locations and are less of a hassle to use than other third-party charging networks.
Winner: Model 3.
PRICING AND VALUE
Standard features are similar for the ID.4 and Model 3, but the ID.4 has the edge on pricing. The ID.4 starts at $41,190 for a rear-wheel-drive Pro model, which comes with a 10-inch central display, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, and a full complement of advanced driver aids. The ID.4 is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit. VW even throws in three years of charging at Electrify America DC fast-charging stations.
The entry-level Model 3 Standard Range Plus starts at $45,190 and has rear-wheel drive, a 15-inch central touchscreen and a similar mix of driver aids. You also get access to subscription-based streaming services, such as Netflix. But Tesla doesn’t equip its vehicles with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, so it’s not as easy to integrate your phone as it is in the VW. The Model 3 also no longer qualifies for the federal tax credit.
DRIVING AND COMFORT
On paper, the Volkswagen ID.4′s power seems like a decent match for the Tesla Model 3. But in Edmunds’ testing it falls behind in acceleration. A rear-drive ID.4 First Edition needed 7.7 seconds to reach 60 mph compared to 5.3 seconds for a Model 3 Standard Range Plus.
The ID.4 handles well for an SUV, but it’s far from sporty. The Tesla Model 3, on the other hand, offers a surprising amount of fun even in base trim. It feels balanced and coordinated through turns and has handling limits beyond what most drivers will come close to on the street.
Both EVs offer a comfortable ride, but they differ in how they ride. The ID.4’s suspension is on the soft side, so it tends to bounce going over bumps. The Model 3, meanwhile, rides smooth until you hit a patch of rough road, when it starts to feel stiff and jittery.
Winner: Model 3.
INTERIOR SPACE AND CARGO ROOM
Though the Tesla is roomy for a small sedan, the ID.4’s SUV body style gives it a slight advantage. The Volkswagen offers 2.4 inches more rear legroom than the Model 3 and 0.7 inch more rear headroom, though the Tesla’s panoramic glass roof helps the cabin feel more spacious than it is.
The Tesla Model 3′s conventional trunk can’t compete with the ID.4 on cargo volume. The VW’s rear liftgate affords it 30.3 cubic feet behind the rear seat, or double the space of the Model 3’s cargo area. However, Model 3 drivers also can use its front trunk, a compartment that the ID.4 doesn’t have.
Picking between these two EVs comes down to what you’re looking for. The ID.4 is a true family-friendly EV at a budget-friendly price. But the Model 3 ultimately wins out by being practical in its own right and offering a more enjoyable driving experience.