The Lucid Air is an all-electric luxury executive sedan created by the California-based Lucid Motors, and built in a new factory in Arizona. With a starting price of $87,400, the Air is a direct competitor to the Tesla Model S, but that’s just the base model.
You can easily plus up the Lucid Air to about $140,000 with the mid-level trims, and the top Air Sapphire rings the cash register at a cool $249,000, before destination fees. So, what do you get for your money?
We spent a week driving the 2023 Lucid Air Grand Touring model. This one is just about in the middle of the trim and price walk, with a nominal MSRP of $139,000, or $140,650 once you add the $1,650 destination charge.
For this you get an extremely comfortable and tech-forward executive sedan that will pin your head to the seatback when you romp on the accelerator pedal. It’s got two motors front and rear, giving you all-wheel drive, and a range of about 516 miles on a full charge.
Let’s cut to the chase — it’s delightful, as a car should be for that kind of money. Read on for the details.
The Lucid Air will have you looking at the car from all angles for a week, trying to decide if you really like it. Every time, you’ll decide that you do like it, but you’ll check again, just to make sure. It’s very long, and smooth with no hard creases.
Like any good luxury car today, the door handles go flush against the body when the doors are locked. The Air has a very long cabin, and a short rear deck, but it’s not a fastback or anything so trendy and forced as a four-door coupe. (We’re looking at you, Audi and Mercedes.) Rather, the Air looks like a futuristic luxury car that you can tell is very, very fast. The Air has gravitas without looking heavy. So yes, I still like it.
The inside of the Air is up-to-the-minute cool, with the obligatory single ultra-wide pane of glass curving across the dashboard with the driver information display and an infotainment screen in the center of the car. But there’s more to it than that.
A bunch of basic functions (door locks and charge port, for example) are on the left side, and you get a bunch of different things happening on the screens as you drive. Then there’s the big tablet-sized screen down on the console that controls all things about the car, like the 21-way massage functions in the front seats, and all your display choices.
The only physical controls on the dash are temperature and fan speed for heat and cooling, and the audio volume.
Your touch surfaces are nice open-grain wood, something suede-like (I can’t tell if it’s synthetic, and really, who cares?) and leather. There’s some coarse-weave cloth that’s all the rage in luxury brands, and that’s nice too. But I bet it’ll be a bitch to keep clean, like the white carpet in our test car. I don’t know about other places, but I live in the Pacific Northwest and we track dirt into everything just in the normal course of life. No one would want white carpet in an Oregon winter.
I also want to mention the windshield, which is a signal feature of the Lucid. It stretches from the cowl all the way back to the B-pillar behind the driver’s head. It’s one piece of curved glass making the windshield and the roof. There’s a little central interior ridge carrying the wiring for the camera and radar, and the sun shades are stuck on the inside of the glass.
It’s amazing and brilliant and oh my gentle God you do NOT want to take a flying rock hit to that piece of glass, because it’s going to be ruinously expensive to replace. Consult your insurance plan carefully.
The last thing to mention is that the Air is really an executive car. There’s generous legroom in the back seats. One minor complaint is that the hip point in the back seats is really low, so there’s lots of headroom, but you’re sitting low so some of the nice legroom is a little wasted.
The Air comes with a variety of power levels. The entry-level Air Pure at $87,400 has one motor in the back and 430 horsepower. That’s good for a 0-60 time of 4.4 seconds and a range of 406 miles, so not shabby by any definition. You can add 50 horsepower and all-wheel drive for $5,500.
If you choose the AWD Touring model for $107,400, you get 620 horsepower and the 0-60 time drops to 3.4 seconds, which is about where the Lamborghini Murcielago used to greatly impress many people.
If you choose the AWD Grand Touring we tested, it’s $139,000 and gives you 819 hair-raising horsepower. You can hit 60 mph in 3 seconds and go 516 miles between charges. Do warn your passengers before demonstrating the acceleration, though. However, if you think three-digit horsepower is SO 10 minutes ago, $179,000 will buy you the AWD Grand Touring Performance trim with 1,050 horsepower and a 2.6-second time to 60, plus 446 miles of range.
But wait, there’s more! The top Air Sapphire runs to $249,000, as we said. This one is only labeled as “1200+ hp” and will take you to 60 in 1.89 seconds, and has a top speed over 200 mph. If you’ve got a quarter-mil and you don’t want guff from anyone about being quicker than you, Lucid’s got you covered.
Oh, our Editor-in-Chief will want me to note that the Lucid enables 1-pedal driving, has a lot of regen, and the powertrain is super smooth.
Safety and Technology
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have rated the Lucid Air. I can tell you that it has all the usual safety features, and then a few fun little things that will make your life safer and easier.
First, when you go to back up, the top screen shows the rear camera view, while you get a big birds-eye view on the tablet screen in the console. That’s really nice, but the feature is made much better because when you get close to something, the Air will tell you in inches (or cm, if you choose Metric units) how close your bumper is to that object. Most other luxury cars just beep or scream at you. The Lucid gives you news you can use. It’s got automatic parking, too, if you’re not confident of your abilities.
Then when you’re driving, actuating the turn signals places a view of the car’s blind spot on the relevant side of the driver information display. A quick glance down lets you see what’s there before changing lanes.
Finally, there’s a feature I love. When you’re sitting at a light and the car in front of you moves, the Lucid plays a cheerful little chime to remind you that it’s time to drive and not to change the radio station or select a new massage function. This tickler will gain Lucid drivers a reputation as, well, lucid drivers.
Driving the Lucid Air makes everything seem worthwhile. It’s smooth, fast, tight, and everything you want in a luxury EV. Mercedes-Benz’ EQS feel sloppy by comparison, and even the BMW i7 feels less than crisp. The long wheelbase of the Air gives it stability, but the car never feels heavy, even though it weighs more than 5,200 pounds. Whether in city or highway driving, the Lucid Air is easy to drive well. Interior noise is perhaps higher than some luxury cars, but it’s not bad.
You’ll rarely have to use the brakes once you master 1-pedal driving, but if you do, they’re well more than adequate.
One thing I didn’t care for in the driving experience was the assisted steering. It comes on with the adaptive cruise control, but I’m sure if I dug into the menus of the control system I could shut it off. Which is what I would do if I owned an Air. The assisted steering really wants to keep the car centered in the lane, but lanes are kind of organic and change width and do odd things.
We humans just drive through smoothly, not caring if we’re a little to one side or another. But the Lucid kept jinking around just a little bit, correcting what didn’t need to be corrected. Also, humans know that if a big old Semi is coming the other way, using up almost all of his lane, we’re going to want to move right and give it plenty of space. Not the auto-steer, though. It will keep you centered no matter what.
But other than that, the Lucid Air is fantastic.
2023 Lucid Air Grand Touring Specifications
|Dimension||L: 195.9 inches/W: 76.2 inches/H: 55.4 inches/Wheelbase: 116.5 inches|
|Powertrain||Dual-motor AWD automatic transmission|
|Fuel Economy||1311 MPGe/516 miles of range/4.6 miles per kWh|
|Performance Specs||819 horsepower and 885 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $87,400; As tested: $140,650 including $1,650 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
Priced at $140,650 out the door, the Lucid Air Grand Touring is a worthy top-tier luxury car. It’s nice inside and out, it’s fast, it’s advanced, and you’re going to want one if you drive it. I’m sure the base trim is plenty nice at $87,400, and I’m absolutely certain the more expensive trims are even better. Buy what you can afford, because this is a great car.
However, I can’t wind this up without noting that Lucid Motors is only in its second year of producing cars, and every EV manufacturer is facing challenges. Whether its supply chain issues or inadequate funding or having to stop production for problems, even large-scale recalls, there isn’t a new EV automaker that is having an easy time of it. So you have to evaluate not only the car, but also the likely long-term health of the automaker.
Lucid made 7,180 cars and delivered 4,369 of them in 2022, and sold 2,314 more in the first three months of this year. The company has said it will produce about 10,000 vehicles this year. That’s a good sign, even after lackluster financial performance because of inflation in 2022 and a 20% layoff earlier this year. The company’s first-quarter results this year are promising. Personally, I hope Lucid thrives, because a car this good deserves to survive and lead to more and even better vehicles in the future.
2023 Lucid Air Grand Touring — Frequently Asked Questions
Is Lucid Motors a Chinese company?
The company is based in California and manufactures cars in Arizona. The company has received significant funding from Saudi Arabia.
Will Lucid Motors survive?
According to the company’s reports, Lucid has $4.1 billion in cash, enough to survive at least through the first quarter of 2024.
What is the wait time for a Lucid?
The company has some models available immediately, but the wait can be 3-5 months for special orders.