Home » It’s Time To Take A Fresh Look At The VW ID.4’s Most Controversial Feature: The Power Window Switches

It’s Time To Take A Fresh Look At The VW ID.4’s Most Controversial Feature: The Power Window Switches

Id4switches Top

At the moment, I have a 2023 Volkswagen ID.4 press car in my driveway. This is actually the second time I’ve had an ID.4 as a press car, as I reviewed it for the Old Site a couple of years ago. Generally, I like the car – it’s reasonably practical (it needs a frunk, but we’ll get into that again another time), I think it looks good, drives well, has a nice interior, good range, all that stuff. But it does have some Achilles’ heels, and most of those heels are in the interior of the car, lurking in many of the controls that your hands must interact with to make the car do things.

When the ID.4 first came out, one set of these controls in particular was singled out for scorn and contempt: the driver’s side power window controls in the door. Instead of the expected four up/down switches for the four windows, with each window being commanded by one switch, there are only two switches, and a toggle to change the modality of those switches from front to rear. Almost everybody hated these switches with most reviews bitching about them, at least a bit. I did it, too. Our own David Tracy, though, doesn’t think the two-switch-plus-mode approach is that bad, and encouraged me to give this most maligned detail another look, with fresh, untainted eyes. Okay, fair enough. Let’s re-evaluate the VW ID.4’s power window controls!

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by The Autopian (@theautopian)

In case, somehow, you’ve forgotten what these controls look like, allow me to refresh your memory:



So, we have two conventional rocker-type push down/pull up switches for the left and right sides of the car, and those switches activate the front or rear windows depending on the state of that touch sensor in front of them. If the word REAR is illuminated in yellow (as opposed to a bluish-white, which is how it looks with the lights on) then the switches are active on the rear windows. If the letters are not illuminated in yellow, the switches are active on the front. The switch will retain whatever its last state was, and defaults to front when the car is on.

It’s not a haptic switch or anything like that, but a pleasant thonk sound is played when the switch’s mode is changed.

There are a few advantages of this two-switch setup. Well, maybe two advantages. First, there’s the obvious cost savings to the carmaker, since they don’t need two extra switches and related wiring. Of course, there’s also the addition of that touch switch and light and related hardware, so you’re really only saving one switch, but it must be something for VW to bother doing this at all. The other possible advantage could be that the most common use case is to open and close the front row windows, so if you just ignore the mode switch, it’s pretty much impossible to hit the wrong window switches. I’m sure at some point all of us have accidentally rolled down the rear windows when we meant to roll down the front windows, and this setup can help eliminate that.

This advantage has even been noted on some owner’s forums, and I think it’s valid. Conceptually, I don’t think what VW’s doing is a bad idea at all; it’s the execution I have problems with. Specifically, the use of a touch button for the mode switching.

For this type of setup to work, there needs to be a very obvious and easily discernible indicator of the state of the controls, front or rear. You should be able to feel the state of the mode and know, by touch, if the switches are active on the front or rear. A physical button that can be felt to be either up or down, or a rocker that is obviously switched forward or aft would work. Having to stop and look at this little word on the armrest isn’t good, and even if you just test by hitting a switch, you have to raise or lower the wrong windows if the mode wasn’t the one you wanted, then find and touch the mode switch, then do what you wanted to do in the first place.


Making this all even worse is the fact that the touch switch isn’t even responsive in a consistent or expected way. Here, look:

Still don’t believe me? You can watch me get genuinely frustrated, if that helps:

Why don’t those taps work? They were decisive and clear! That should be enough! What’s it trying to detect that I don’t seem to have enough of? Body heat? A soul?


The slight linger it seems to want is vague and difficult to get just right, and there’s no tactile feedback at all. If you have the radio on or a window actually down you can’t even hear the little acknowledgement sound well or sometimes even at all. It’s just overall kinda crappy!

Again, it’s less the concept, which I can see the arguments for, and more the execution. A touch button is simply the wrong hardware for the job.

So, David, I hope you’re happy. Sure, I arrived at basically the same conclusion – this particular window switch setup is an annoying blight on an otherwise good car – but I came to this conclusion from a completely new way! I rethought the basic idea and I can definitely see the value in it! Too bad VW made such a poor choice on how they implemented it.

If you have thoughts or opinions or rants about these important window switches, please share in the comments!



Nobody Is Asking For Animated Digital Car Assistants So Someone Should Tell BMW And Mini That

Here’s What Happened When I Confronted Volvo’s Head Designer About The Company’s Egregious Decision To Require A Touchscreen Button To Open The EX90’s Glovebox

The Mazda CX-30 Is A Good Car With An Annoying User Interface That Convinced Me That All Infotainment Screens Should Be Touchscreens

Share on facebook
Share on whatsapp
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Gen-O Bernardo
Gen-O Bernardo
9 months ago

my camaro convertible has a similar arrangement…but it’s 2 door…and it toggles for the rear quarter windows! way to save another 50 cents vw

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x