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Volkswagen ID.4 vs Tesla Model Y

Volkswagen has been working hard on mass-producing EVs, and it unveiled the ID.4 compact crossover it will sell in America. Once it hits showroom floors, the ID.4 will have tough competition from the original EV automaker, Tesla. So who makes the better all-electric compact SUV? Is it the largest car company in the world or the largest EV company in the world? Keep reading to find out how the new ID.4 stacks up against the Tesla Model Y. 

Interior tech

Volkswagen ID.4

Volkswagen’s upcoming all-electric ID.4 will come well equipped once it hits dealerships. The standard center touchscreen is 10.0 inches, but it can be upgraded to a 12.0-inch display. A navigation system, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are standard on all trims. Behind the steering wheel, drivers get a 5.3-inch digital instrument panel screen. 

Other standard tech includes a wireless smartphone charger, four USB ports (2 data and 2 charging), and a smartphone app for remote connectivity. Lastly, the ID.4 comes with Intuitive Start, a feature that automatically turns the car on when the driver sits in the seat with the key fob. No word on the audio system yet, but it will likely offer a Beats upgraded system like the ID.3 sedan. Like with Teslas, over-the-air (OTA) updates will be possible. 

Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y interior

The Model Y’s interior is basically a carryover from the Model 3 and centers around its impressive 15.0-inch center touchscreen. Almost everything in the car is controlled through there. There isn’t a digital instrument panel behind the steering wheel; instead, the information is located in the center display. Bluetooth and a navigation system with live traffic are standard, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t available. 

However, what the Model Y lacks in smartphone connectivity, it makes up for with other neat features like an internet browser, video streaming (Netflix and YouTube), a karaoke system, and arcade games. And we can’t forget the whoopee cushions farts. Like other Teslas, the Model Y has 2 docking stations (only one in its class) and four USB ports. The only audio system currently offered consists of 14 speakers and a subwoofer. OTA updates are of course standard, as is a smartphone app for remote connectivity. 

Driving range, charging, and power

Volkswagen ID.4 

2021 Volkswagen ID.4

The ID.4 uses an 82-kilowatt-hour battery pack, which is larger than the Model Y’s, but has an estimated driving range of 250 miles, which is lower than the Model Y’s. Initially, a single-motor, rear-drive model will be for sale, making 201 horsepower, but in 2021, an all-wheel-drive (AWD) version will be released, making 302 hp. That’s plenty of power, but it’s still below the Tesla, even though it has a bigger battery pack. In case you need to tow, you’ll need to opt for the AWD model that comes with a maximum rating of 2,700 pounds. 

Thank to its 11.0-kWh on-board charger and standard DC fast-charging capability, the ID.4 can charge its battery pack pretty fast. Using a Level 2 public or home charger, the Volkswagen can recharge up to 33 miles of range per hour, or a full charge in about 8 hours. A Level 1 charger will take about twice as long. If you connect to a DC fast charging station, expect up to 60 miles in only 10 minutes, or charging from just 5% to 80% can be as quick as 38 minutes. The ID.4 comes with three years of free charging at Electrify America charging stations. 

Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y official

The Model Y’s 75-kWh battery pack is smaller, but it packs not only more range but more power as well. The current Long Range AWD model has a driving range of 326 miles while the Performance model is rated at 303 miles. Both models have dual motors and AWD. Tesla unfortunately doesn’t advertise horsepower numbers, but we do know the Performance model produces about 450 hp, and the Long Range AWD makes 384 hp, according to Motor Trend. That’s significantly more than the ID.4. The Model Y also has the advantage with towing thanks to its maximum rating of 3,500 pounds. 

With an 11.5-kWh onboard charger and Supercharger charging stations, the Model Y also charges quickly. Tesla claims the Model Y can charge up to 158 miles in just 15 minutes using a Supercharger station. Using the Level 2 home charger from Tesla, the SUV can recharge its battery at a rate of up to 44 miles per hour of charge, or about 8 hours for a full charge. Both charging methods are faster than the ID.4, and Tesla’s Supercharger network is much larger than Electrify America’s charging network. 

Safety, driver-assist features, and semi-autonomous driving

Volkswagen ID.4

Volkswagen loads the ID.4 with lots of standard driver-assist features in a package the company calls IQ.Drive. It consists of automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane centering, blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert, and emergency assist. The package also comes with Travel Assist, Volkswagen’s semi-autonomous drive system. It’s not as advanced as Tesla’s system, but it will brake, accelerate, and keep the EV centered in its lane under certain conditions. Since the ID.4 has yet to hit the production line, it hasn’t been crash-tested by the NHTSA or IIHS. 

Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y front

The Model Y comes standard with Autopilot, a system that can brake, accelerate, and steer for the driver if the conditions are right. The EV also comes with automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring. For extra, you can add the Full Self-Driving package. But keep in mind this doesn’t make the car drive by itself. The package contains Navigate on Autopilot (an advanced highway driving system), automatic lane change, automatic parking, the Summon feature, and a traffic light and stop sign assist feature. Later, Autosteer for city streets will be available. Tesla offers a lot more in this category than Volkswagen, but you’ll need to pay for it. Like the ID.4, the Model Y has yet to be crash-tested by the NHTSA or IIHS. 

Dimensions, cargo space, and seating 

Tesla Model Y rear

The ID.4 is the smaller of the two EVs. It’s 180.5 inches in length versus the Model Y’s 187.0 inches. It’s also slightly narrower at 72.9 inches, while the Tesla is 75.6 inches wide. Inside, it’s a similar story. The Model Y can hold slightly more cargo with the rear seats folded down, 68.0 cubic feet for the Tesla, and 64.2 for the Volkswagen. With the rear seats up, the ID.4 can hold up to 30.3 cubic feet, but we don’t have that number for the Model Y because it’s not advertised. 

Passenger room for the front seats is almost identical. The ID.4 has 41.1 inches of front headroom and legroom while the Model Y has 41.0 inches of headroom and 41.8 inches of legroom. However, rear seat passenger space is smaller in the Volkswagen. Rear headroom is 38.4 inches, and rear legroom is 37.6 inches. In the Tesla, it’s 39.4 inches of rear headroom and 40.5 inches of legroom. Currently, both EVs seat up to five passengers. But next year, the Model Y will offer seven-passenger seating. However, it’s safe to assume the third row in the Model Y will be very small, mostly for children and small adults. 


Volkswagen ID.4 

Stephen Edelstein/Digital Trends

The Volkswagen ID.4 starts at $39,995 for the Pro model. That’s much more affordable than the current base Model Y. The 1st Edition model, which already sold out, starts at $43,995. In 2022, a base model will be available with a starting price in the area of $35,000. Keep in mind, the above pricing doesn’t include any federal or local tax credits.

Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y

Currently, the base Model Y is the Long Range model that starts at $49,990, or about $10,000 more than the ID.4. The Performance model takes the starting price to $59,990. However, Tesla will release a more affordable single-motor Model Y that will likely be called the Standard Range Plus (like the Model 3). We expect the starting price to be in the area of the ID.4 Pro (about $40K). Just remember, federal tax credits have been phased out for Teslas. 

The competition 

Ford Mustang Mach E front view

The Volkswagen ID.4 and Tesla Model Y compete in the small but quickly growing all-electric compact crossover segment, but they also face competition from well-established gasoline-powered models. Looking ahead, upcoming entries into the segment include the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the Nissan Ariya.

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