The automotive industry is electrifying fast and there appears to be no escape from that trajectory. All-electric cars are becoming increasingly common, and it becomes increasingly necessary for consumers to really understand the differences between different models. EVs do not operate on a one-size-fits-all basis.
Today we’re going to take a closer look at two big competitors in the EV marketplace for electric crossover SUVs: the Volkswagen ID.4, and Tesla’s Model Y.
The Tesla Model Y is Tesla’s compact SUV offering, and it is a true leader when it comes to battery range, performance, and in-car technology. The VW ID.4 doesn’t offer quite the same level of luxury or performance, but it’s also a substantially cheaper fully electric SUV. While the VW ID.4 is worth considering over the Tesla Model Y, only the Tesla Model Y offers the option for adding a third row to seat up to 7.
Pricing for EVs is slightly harder to predict with precision because there’s potential for Federal tax credits which bring the costs down. Before such benefits kick in, the Volkswagen ID.4 has the advantage in price with a starting MSRP of $39,995. The Tesla Model Y starts at $58,990 for the Long Range model, and $63,990 for the Performance model.
When you factor in the savings, the two Model Y vehicles come down to $53,940 and $58,940 respectively – but are still far more expensive than the VW ID.4. After tax credits, the ID.4 comes down to as low as $32,495.
Exterior and Interior Styling
The exterior design of each SUV reflects their own brand style and image. The Volkswagen ID.4 is unmistakably a VW in its more boxy and solid construction, but it’s also been given a new, sleeker edge compared to regular Volkswagen SUV models like the VW Tiguan or Atlas. As with many automakers branching into EVs, they want to give their electric models a distinct identity of their own.
The Tesla Model Y also shows its clear connection and relationship to other Tesla models with its signature aerodynamic curves, large and slightly drooping front end, glass roof, and unique body lines. Where the ID.4 looks more like a conventional crossover SUV in its construction, the Model Y feels more like a reinvention.
As you move to the inside, there are some more stark differences. First of all, the Tesla Model Y can seat up to 7 by adding in the optional third row. The ID.4, on the other hand, is built for 5 people maximum. In addition, while both VW and Tesla try to offer an updated interior, VW doesn’t go anything like as far as Tesla to do so.
The Model Y cockpit devotes any and all drive information to the massive 15-inch central screen, with no other instrument display. The ID.4 maintains a more regular central touchscreen and instrument cluster style, though the appearance is also updated. Both do offer glass roof designs, which create a great sense of space.
With electric cars, there’s no engine or fuel consumption to compare, so we can understand performance better through total battery capacity and maximum range on a single charge, first and foremost. The Tesla Model Y offers a range of up to 330 miles on its 75kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The Performance model, which eats through the battery slightly faster, manages up to 303 miles.
Both Model Y ranges are better than the very best on offer from the ID.4 Pro, which gets up to 260 miles on its 77kWh battery pack. It might not surprise people to learn the Tesla range is greater, since it is one of their biggest USPs in the market right now for all their models.
On the road, the Model Y is more of a speed machine with a 0-60 mph time of just 4.4 seconds, compared to 7.6 seconds in the ID.4. The VW’s speed gets better on the AWD model (5.4 seconds). The Model Y also has greater towing capacity at 3,500 lbs, compared to 2,700 on the ID.4.
When it comes to the practical side of EVs, we need to look at things like charging and regenerative braking, as well as traditional things like cargo and passenger space. First, when it comes to charging, the Model Y is built better for the fast-charging world. Plug a Model Y into one of Tesla’s Supercharger DC units for 15 minutes, and you’ll get up to 162 miles of added range. The ID.4 will only get up to 62 miles from 10 minutes in a DC fast charger.
In fairness, there’s less range to add back into the ID.4, that’s true, but the Model Y’s superior ability to take ultra-fast charging solutions make it more practical for those taking their EV the distance. The Model Y also outmatches the VW ID.4 in cargo space, offering 68 cubic feet between its front trunk “Frunk” and the rear cargo area. The ID.4 only offers 30.3 cubic feet with the rear seats up, and 64.2 cubic feet with the rear seats down.
The ID.4 does offer all passengers a comfortable ride, however, with a comfortable 37.6 inches of rear-seat legroom. The Model Y is very generous in the second row at 40 inches, but the third row is much more snug.
Technology & Features
No one in the EV marketplace really rivals Tesla when it comes to on-board technology integration. In the main areas of tech supremacy: battery/range, driver assistance technology, regenerative braking, and infotainment, Tesla is ahead of VW, but VW are working hard to catch up.
One big advantage Tesla owners have is the benefit of over-the-air updates, which have already been shown to be able to fix mechanical problems like braking distances, too. The larger infotainment screen also offers Tesla owners access to video games, streaming services and much more in a way that other EVs, including the ID.4 can’t yet compete. VW started to use OTA updates from September 2021, but they are still far behind Tesla in their implementation.
While you do get a lot more in the way of technology features: AutoPilot, Full Self-Driving Mode, OTA updates, streaming services, etc, you do also pay a lot more money for that privilege. The Model Y is far more expensive even when you factor in rebates and tax incentives.
The ID.4 offers standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and a semi-autonomous driving mode. Tesla offers all of the same on paper, but its technology is a lot more mature and well-tested on the road through its other models. VW is still the “new kid on the block” when it comes to EVs.
The Model Y might appear to come out in front in many technological respects, but let’s not forget that Elon Musk himself has driven VW electric vehicles and commented on their great quality. The ID.4 suits those on a tighter budget but who want to make the switch to electric now. Those looking for a more feature-rich and higher-tech experience can opt for the Model Y.
Let’s not also forget aesthetics. The ID.4 is the one among these 2 models that actually looks more like a traditional SUV. If that appeals more, then the ID.4 could be the better call. For those who prefer the more futuristic styling of the Model Y, that car will have greater appeal.
|2021 Volkswagen ID.4||2022 Tesla Model Y|
|Transmission||Single Speed Automatic||Single Speed Automatic|
|Drivetrain||Rear-Wheel Drive||All-Wheel Drive|
|Rear Wheel Size||PR19||P255/45WR19|
|Front Suspension||Strut||Double Wishbone|
|Front Wheel Size||PR19||P255/45WR19|
|Turning Diameter (ft.)||33.5||39.8|
|MPG/MPGe - Hwy||89||117|
|MPG/MPGe - City||104||131|
|MPG/MPGe - Combined||97||125|
|Size and Weight|
|Max Width (in.)||72.9||75.6|
|Front Seat Leg Room (in.)||41.1||41.8|
|Front Seat Head Room (in.)||-||41.0|
|Front Seat Hip Room (in.)||-||53.8|
|Front Seat Shoulder Room (in.)||-||56.4|
|Rear Seat Leg room (in.)||37.6||40.5|
|Rear Seat Head Room (in.)||-||39.4|
|Rear Seat Hip Room (in.)||-||50.6|
|Rear Seat Shoulder Room (in.)||-||54.0|
|HD Radio||Standard||Not Available|
|Satellite Radio||Standard||Not Available|
|Entertainment System||Not Available||Not Available|
|Premium Sound System||Not Available||Not Available|
|Auxiliary Audio Input||Standard||Standard|
|Smart Device Integration||Standard||Standard|
|Hard Disk Drive Media Storage||Not Available||Standard|
|Vinyl Seats||Not Available||Standard|
|Leather Seats||Not Available||Standard|
|Premium Synthetic Seats||Not Available||Standard|
|Leather Steering Wheel||Standard||Not Available|
|Woodgrain Interior Trim||Not Available||Standard|
|Rear A/C||Not Available||Not Available|
|Seat Memory||Not Available||Standard|
|Seat-Massage||Not Available||Not Available|
|Power Liftgate||Not Available||Standard|
|Head-Up Display||Not Available||Not Available|
|Automatic Parking||Not Available||Optional|
|Power Driver Seat||Standard||Standard|
|Cooled Rear Seat(s)||Not Available||Not Available|
|Hands-Free Liftgate||Not Available||Not Available|
|Heated Rear Seat(s)||Not Available||Standard|
|Remote Engine Start||Not Available||Not Available|
|Cooled Front Seat(s)||Not Available||Not Available|
|Heated Front Seat(s)||Standard||Standard|
|Power Passenger Seat||Standard||Standard|
|Remote Trunk Release||Not Available||Standard|
|Heated Steering Wheel||Standard||Standard|
|Adaptive Cruise Control||Standard||Standard|
|Navigation from Telematics||Not Available||Not Available|
|Universal Garage Door Opener||Not Available||Not Available|
|Steering Wheel Audio Controls||Standard||Standard|
|Night Vision||Not Available||Not Available|
|Rear Parking Aid||Standard||Standard|
|Blind Spot Monitor||Standard||Standard|
|Lane Keeping Assist||Standard||Standard|
|Tire Pressure Monitor||Standard||Standard|
|Lane Departure Warning||Standard||Standard|
|Knee Air Bag||Not Available||Standard|
|Driver Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Seatbelt Air Bag||Not Available||Not Available|
|Passenger Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Rear Head Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Rear Side Air Bag||Not Available||Not Available|
|Front Head Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Front Side Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Basic||4 Years / 50,000 Miles||4 Years / 50,000 Miles|
|Corrosion||7 Years / 100,000 Miles||12 Years / Unlimited Miles|
|Drivetrain||4 Years / 50,000 Miles||8 Years / 120,000 Miles|
|Maintenance||2 Years / 20,000 Miles||-|
|Roadside Assistance||3 Years / 36,000 Miles||4 Years / 50,000 Miles|