I tested the $180,000 Lucid Air and found it to be an impressive Tesla competitor.

I tested the $180,000 Lucid Air and found it to be an impressive Tesla competitor.

Lucid Air: The Next Tesla Contender That Blows the Competition Away

Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance

The race to become the next Tesla is on, and Lucid Motors is one of the top prospects. Unlike some fellow EV startups, Lucid has managed to build vehicles and ship them to customers. As a technology and media expert, I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days with Lucid’s debut model – the Lucid Air – and I was blown away by its impressive features and performance.

The Basics

Founded in 2007 and based in California, Lucid started manufacturing the Air in late 2021 at its factory in Arizona. With just 5,900 cars shipped so far, it’s still a rare and cool experience to see one in the wild. In fact, I witnessed one driver leaning halfway out of his SUV just to snag a glimpse of the Lucid Air, exclaiming, “Lucid Air! Holy fucking shit!”

The brand focuses on luxury, performance, and technology, which is reflected in the price range of their cars. The entry-level Lucid Air Pure starts at $82,400, while the top-of-the-line, limited-edition Lucid Air Sapphire goes for $249,000. The higher-priced models offer fancier interiors, better performance, and longer range. The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance, the model I had the chance to experience, comes with an eye-watering price tag of $180,000, at the time of testing in May 2023.

Awe-inspiring Looks and a Lavish Interior

The Lucid Air is truly a sight to behold. In photos, it may not fully capture just how exceptionally long, low, and wide the car is, but in person, it’s a stone-cold stunner. Slim light bars spanning the full width of the car’s nose and butt, trapezoid-shaped door handles, and functional inlets that redirect air around the car all contribute to its striking design. The Air’s aerodynamic shape helps it achieve an impressive range from its battery.

Step inside, and you’ll be greeted by a sumptuous and highly adjustable leather interior. Lucid has struck the perfect balance between modern and old-school design elements. Faux suede and wood accents add a refined touch, while the expansive windshield adds drama and a sense of openness to the already spacious cockpit. The back seats offer oodles of legroom, and the Air boasts trunks in both the front and rear, providing ample storage space.

Screens, Screens, and More Screens

As expected in modern vehicles, the Lucid Air replaces traditional buttons with sleek screens. An elegantly suspended 34-inch sliver of screens oriented toward the driver serves as the speedometer and main infotainment display. Nestled between the front seats, a tablet provides access to various settings, including drive modes, seat heating and ventilation, and the glove box. Lucid’s interface is both gorgeous and easy to use, avoiding the laggy performance often found in car touchscreens.

However, relying solely on touchscreens for essential functions can be distracting. Lucid has managed to keep some important functions accessible with physical buttons, including door locks, wipers, and headlights. Despite this, the increasing shift towards touchscreens in vehicles is a downside for those who prefer the tactile feel of physical buttons.

The Air’s Incredible Performance

Driving the Lucid Air is a truly exhilarating experience. With its smooth and swift acceleration, the Air effortlessly dials up the excitement. In the most intense “Sprint” setting, the Air unleashes its full power, reaching 60 mph in a mind-boggling 2.6 seconds. Even at highway speeds, the Air feels like it’s just getting warmed up. However, it’s essential to keep an eye on the speedometer as the Air’s acceleration can lead to unknowingly exceeding the speed limit.

One of the Air’s standout features is its impressive range. With an EPA rating of 516 miles, the Grand Touring Performance model is the longest-range electric car on the market, surpassing the best Tesla by over 100 miles. This extensive range eliminates the common anxieties associated with running out of battery or searching for charging stations. When I did need to charge, the Air’s lightning-fast charging capabilities were apparent. In just 12 minutes, I added 158 miles of estimated range, making road trips far less cumbersome than with slower-charging EVs.

Cutting-Edge Technology and Safety Features

The Lucid Air comes equipped with cutting-edge technology and safety features. A crisp 360-degree camera assists with maneuvering in parking lots, aided by a live camera feed of blind spots that appears on the driver-facing display when using turn signals. Lucid’s adaptive cruise control system, DreamDrive, keeps the car centered in its lane and ensures a safe distance from surrounding traffic. The driver-monitoring system adds an extra layer of safety by alerting the driver if their attention strays from the road.

Impressions: A Tremendous Luxury EV

The Lucid Air is undeniably an impressive luxury electric vehicle. Its awe-inspiring looks, lavish interior, exceptional performance, and impressive range make it a strong contender in the EV market. However, the competition is stiff, with established automakers like Mercedes, Porsche, BMW, and Audi offering their own capable and luxurious EVs. Choosing Lucid, or any other EV startup like Rivian, Lordstown, or Fisker, entails some degree of risk compared to the reliability and extensive dealer networks of the old guard.

Ultimately, whether to support the established players or take a gamble with an up-and-comer is a personal decision. But one thing is certain: the Lucid Air is a stunningly good luxury EV that sets a high bar for its competitors. The commitment to luxury, performance, and technology showcased in the Lucid Air makes it a serious contender in the quest to dethrone Tesla.