Volkswagen ID.7 review: a superior EV that happens to be a sedan

Volkswagen’s first non-SUV EV to hit American shores is shaping up to be a winner.

SUVs dominate the American landscape. They make up roughly half of all vehicles sold. So, when Volkswagen wanted to begin their post-Dieselgate EV assault on the US, it makes sense that they started with the ID.4. As SUVs go, it’s on the small side, but an SUV it is nevertheless.

And then… nothing. For years. While European buyers also have the choice of the ID.3 hatchback (which we’ll seemingly never get) and the new ID Buzz van, we were stuck waiting. Now, not only is Volkswagen finally bringing us it’s reto-minded EV van, its long-awaited ID.7 sedan is also hitting US dealers in 2024.

Volkswagen has been quietly planting the seeds of anticipation around this long and luxurious ride. Though the car won’t arrive at dealers until later this year, I’ve been lucky to spend a few days wheeling around town in a pre-production, German-spec ID.7. After some frigid, winter-weather testing, I’m genuinely impressed with what Volkswagen looks set to deliver, even if this sedan doesn’t offer the most memorable of driving experiences.

What it is

The 2024 ID.7 is a sedan of a type that is increasingly uncommon in the United States. Its wheelbase is five inches longer than the generously proportioned Arteon sedan, which is leaving the US market amid an industry-wide sedan decline.

As sedans go, while the ID.7 isn’t the most exciting-looking car of the moment, it has a clean, sophisticated look that gives it more presence than the humble ID.4. But there are definitely some stylistic elements borrowed from the 4, most notable being the single sweeping line that forms the shape of the roof, running from the root of the windshield, up the leading A-pillar, above the doors, and back down to the trunk.

The overall profile is much the same as the Arteon, but there’s significantly less chrome and fewer details on the ID.7. The biggest change is on the nose. Where the Arteon has a pronounced grille, the electric ID.7, with its reduced cooling needs, just has a small air inlet down low on a largely featureless nose.

The overall impression is of a sophisticated, stately car, especially in the subtle moonstone gray color you see here. However, I’m told the nose at least will look slightly more aggressive on the eventual US sedan.

Now, before we get too far into this, I want to say that I’m calling this a sedan even though it doesn’t have a proper trunk. The ID.7 has a liftback hatch, like the Arteon, and it opens to reveal a healthy 18.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity. That’s about 25 percent more than a Camry, for reference.

The rear seats fold down at the tug of a little lever on either side of the cargo compartment, more than doubling the cargo space to 56 cubic feet.

Those are solid numbers, but I have bad news for frunk fans: there’s no storage space up there. You can open the hood and gaze upon all the high-voltage equipment, but there isn’t even a token cubby for charging cables.

I know that will upset some of you, but I’m okay with it. Though EVs don’t have engines, their inverters, chillers, heat pumps, and other components have to go somewhere. Stuffing them under the hood opens up the layout of the rest of the car.

And that layout is spacious. The rear seats offer enough legroom for a power forward. Even the tallest of folks can stretch out, gaze up through the panoramic sunroof, and luxuriate with the seat heaters pumping. Those rear seats are plenty comfortable, even offering a modicum of lateral support.

But, beyond that, rear seat appointments are few: just a couple of USB-C ports to keep devices juiced and some deep door pockets for water bottles or Steam Decks.

There’s a lot of storage up front, too, including a floating center console with room below for moderate-sized purses or puppies. The forward section of the armrest has a sliding cover that exposes cupholders, a wireless charger, and another pair of USB-C ports. The aft portion has a deep, wide cavity, perfect for placing whatever you want to forget about.

Front seats are even more inviting than the rears. Deep, plush, and sueded with “Art Velours” and Artex microfibers, they are not only wonderful to occupy but, with the perforations and blue piping, quite pleasing to look at. Front seats are heated and cooled, and there’s even a massage function.

Curing cold feet with machine learning

Though good, there’s nothing particularly novel about the ID.7’s seats. However, Volkswagen has paired them with some logic to create an in-car experience that’s remarkably sensitive to your needs.

Like so many cars today, the ID.7 has a pseudo-intelligent voice assistant that you can summon by name. VW calls this one Ida, but you can rename it to whatever you like. The voice assistant handles everything from navigation duties, like entering addresses or finding your closest Starbucks, to modifying in-car settings.

The exciting stuff is what the voice assistant and the ID.7 ‘s HVAC system can do. You can say, “Hello, Ida, my feet are cold,” and it’ll direct warm air to flow down low in the cabin.

We saw this first in the ID.4, but in the ID.7, Volkswagen takes it to another level thanks to the car’s digital vents. Say, “I’m cold,” and if you’re the only one in the car, the HVAC system will automatically center all the vents on you for maximum tootsie toasting.

There are some other neat tricks, like a seat mode called “Dry Boost” that combines heat and ventilation. It’s meant to be a quick fix for when things are getting a bit swampy — you know, down there.

What you can’t control via voice is handled by the 15-inch touchscreen that sits proud in the center of the dashboard. The ID.7 presents a bright, clean, customizable interface that you’ll probably just replace with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay anyway (both wireless). But when it comes to the basics of quickly accessing heating controls or changing car settings, it’s all quick and easy.

Volkswagen’s software interface has come a long way since the laggy mess that launched in the ID.4 years ago.

More controls are found on the steering wheel, and unfortunately, they are of the capacitive touch type. Volkswagen deployed these on the ID.4 to generally negative reviews, and I was glad to see that the upcoming Golf has returned to actual buttons. Not so here.

I also lament the lack of a physical volume knob, but I fear I’m increasingly in the minority with that complaint.

Heads up, AR forward

Despite its proportions, the ID.7 has a diminutive little gauge cluster behind the steering wheel, similar to the ID.4 or the Ford Mustang Mach-E. Still, it conveys everything you need about speed and vehicle status.

But there’s need and then there’s want, and you’ll want to check out the generously sized, augmented reality heads-up display. Projected onto the windscreen is another slender gauge cluster, which shows more information about active safety systems and state of charge. It’s a bit duplicative of the gauge cluster, making me wonder whether the latter is necessary, but the bigger tricks happen higher on the glass.

Wander too far out of the lane, and the HUD paints a flashing orange line on the road as a sort of visual cue to stop meandering and get your ass back in line. It’ll also help with navigation cues and other active safety warnings.

It’s not quite as advanced as the HUD found in the Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan, but that thing costs about twice as much as this probably will, so I’ll cut it some slack. I do love seeing advanced tech coming down to more attainable cars like this.

Sadly, I could not sample the navigation functionality. This German car came to me without local map data, which meant the car’s navigation screen was nothing more than a big, white box. It had no roads, no points of interest, not even Starbucks. So, I was unable to test out the augmented reality nav in the ID.7. But, having used these systems on other cars in the past, I can tell you that having a giant arrow floating in space, literally pointing the way home, makes it a lot harder to miss your turn.

And, if that’s not enough, the ID.7 continues the row of LEDs along the windshield that are also featured on the ID.4. They’ll flash and blink to let you know of upcoming turns and wayward pedestrians.

Relax and cruise

The Volkswagen ID.7 is a luxurious car in many ways, and that’s also how I’d classify the driving dynamic. Or, I should say, the lack of dynamic. The model I drove was the rear-wheel drive trim that will match the first cars coming to the US later this year, with 282 horsepower and 402 pound-feet of torque.

Those would be acceptable numbers in most sedans, but remember, this is a long EV with a big battery pack. It is a heavy machine, and that combination results in solid but hardly neck-snapping acceleration.

If you’re the sort who needs more power, a dual-motor all-wheel drive flavor is said to be coming in time. But, honestly, I didn’t need or want the ID.7 to be a rocket ship.

Plenty of other EVs are fighting for kidney-bursting acceleration honors. I’d rather see more manufacturers focus on ride quality and comfort. The ID.7 excels in that department. It is floaty over bumps, taking a few moments to settle after cruising over railroad tracks, but it nonchalantly absorbs the incessant frost heaves and asphalt cracks that criss-cross upstate NY roads this time of year.

Sure, the steering is sluggish, the brake pedal long and soft, and the throttle relaxed even in sport mode, but none of that bothered me. I was too busy enjoying the ride — and the excellent Harman Kardon sound system.

I know, you’re all wondering about the range. I can tell you that I averaged 2.8 miles per kilowatt-hour, which equates to a theoretical 230 miles from the 82kWh battery pack we’ll get in the U.S. However, I did most of my testing during a winter storm, with temperatures below freezing. There were also quite a few acceleration tests along the way.

In other words, the worst-case scenario. Volkswagen says to expect 386 miles on the European WLTP test. We can’t say for sure without a completed EPA test, but 320 miles should be a reasonable estimate for the US model.

We also can’t say pricing for sure yet, and that’s a shame because it’s hard to recommend a product if you don’t know how much it’ll cost. Looking at the ID.4 and where the European ID.7 falls, I’d guess at a low-to-mid $50,000 price. For a long, comfortable sedan with luxury aspirations plus the practicality of a hatchback, that would make the ID.7 a proper value.

In terms of the most popular EVs on the road, that would price the ID.7 closer to the Tesla Model 3 than the Model S, despite it offering practicality and comfort in excess of the latter. It won’t offer the speed, of course, and will surely come up short on range, but in my eye, once you’re over 300 miles on a charge, the difference is largely academic.

The question, though, is whether there’s truly a market for this thing here. While the ID.4 hasn’t exactly taken the world by storm, it has been gaining momentum for Volkswagen in the US market. Sales of the EV were up more than 80 percent last year, making up more than 10 percent of VW’s overall sales here. VW had a strong year in general, with sales up 40 percent last quarter and 10 percent for the full year.

So there is increasing interest in VW’s EVs, but sedans aren’t exactly in hot demand right now. The Arteon was never a strong seller, and it’s hard to imagine the ID.7 finding blow-out success following so closely in its footsteps.

The ID.7 is damn good, and it makes for a very compelling alternative to the Hyundai Ioniq 6 on the low end or a Tesla Model S on the higher end. If the price is right, I’ll take one of these over either. But I have a sinking feeling that once the ID.Buzz finally drops, that’s the only VW anyone’s going to be talking about.

Photography by Tim Stevens / The Verge