I appreciated the 2023 Lucid Air Touring more each time I drove it. The luxury sedan made me feel special, about my place in the world while moving through it, and also as a respite from that world.
A luxury car should rouse those feelings, especially for $128,550 as tested ($109,050 without options). But the cab-forward design doesn’t call undue attention to itself: it doesn’t lean into gaping grilles, bedazzle with glitzy light signatures, or boast brand badges as conspicuous as a face tattoo. An admirer asked if it was a Lincoln. Somewhere, a Continental blushed. Others lingered before asking what it was.
The Lucid Air comes from a California electric vehicle maker in the mold of Tesla but with an automotive doctorate instead of a PayPal pedigree. Lucid CEO Pete Rawlinson, who was the chief engineer on the Tesla Model S and the principal engineer at Jaguar before that, intends for Lucid to design and build electric cars with peerless efficiency.
The super low 0.21 coefficient of drag is one of the best among mass-produced cars. Form and function meet in a roofline that curves in perfect symmetry. Chrome trim rounds over the windows between the black glass roof in a two-tone design with a long, low, and wide body. My tester was painted Zenith Red ($1,000 extra) or a kind of cabernet that might have most evoked the Lincoln comment. Another chrome bookend lipsticks the front end, which has side air curtains and vents in the clamshell hood that give away the true intention of its aero-minded design.
With the standard 19-inch wheels and a 92-kwh battery pack on the mid-grade Touring and base Pure models, the Lucid Air goes an EPA-estimated 4.2 miles per kwh, making it the most efficient electric vehicle on the market alongside the Hyundai Ioniq 6 sedan.
It also holds title to the most electric range of any production car, at 516 miles for the Air Grand Touring model and its 112-kwh battery pack. My Touring was no slouch itself, with 384 miles of range.
Lucid Air Touring performance
But exceptional efficiency and range don’t add up to luxury. The Air Touring made 620 hp and 885 lb-ft of torque that would seem stunning if not for the 1,200-hp Grand Touring Performance (118-kwh battery pack) that can hit 60 mph in less than two seconds. That’s hard to fathom. For the Touring volume model, Lucid quotes a 0-60 mph time of 3.4 seconds, and based on the reactions of my passengers, it might’ve felt quicker than anyone needs.
To access Launch mode, I had to find an empty straight and switch from Smooth or Swift modes to Sprint mode. I then mashed the brake, mashed the accelerator and when Lucid’s blue bear icon appeared in the cluster, I let off the brake. All that torque created some wheel slip off the line, even with all-wheel drive, but the 20-50 mph burst dumped my guts in the road.
There are quicker, lighter, and more nimble cars, but the Air Touring balances comfort, acceleration, and efficiency better than most cars, whether they’re powered by electricity or gasoline.
In normal driving in the lesser modes, the Air Touring was still light on its 5,203-pound feet. The adaptive dampers front and rear isolate the cabin from road rash, and firm up enough to keep road driving brisk and exciting. Unhurried, it rides more like a frisky BMW 8-Series than a pillowy Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The Air lacks an air suspension that may have offset some of the centrifugal forces that nudged me into the door on a winding cloverleaf ramp. It can’t carve out fast 90-degree turns without some push up front, but on twisty roads the pitch and yaw were well controlled.
It made me make excuses to go for a drive, even for rush-hour interstate trips I would usually avoid.
Unlike some luxury electric competitors, Lucid doesn’t go overboard with the number of drive modes or the regenerative braking settings. The default mode lets you coast like a gas car, while the regen mode has a significant but not abrupt grab that differs depending on drive mode (0.13 g in Swift and Sprint modes versus 0.22 g in Smooth). It’ll come to a stop on its own, without any extra buttons or gimmicks. Simple. Easy.
Thick A-pillars frame the glass roof and thicken at the base, chopping off some sightlines. The arcing roofline squeezes vision out the back so much that cars are distorted to look oblong.
It made me appreciate the excellent $10,000 surround-view camera system with birds-eye views on the lower tablet screen and front- or rear-camera views in the upper touchscreen.
Lucid Air’s smart interface
The tablet screen bridging the console and the dash is a clever alternative to central touchscreens that dominate the dash on many luxury rivals. If the tablet’s too much, give it a little nudge and it retracts into the dash, revealing a storage console. It lets you appreciate Lucid’s blend of classic design elements—such as a wood dash lip, wood surface panels, chrome ribbing, textured door panels, and metallic buttons—with modern digitization in the form of a 34.0-inch glass cockpit display that bows around the driver in three parts.
On the left side are buttons for the lights, frunk, charge port, wipers, and defrosters. The digital instrument cluster in the center serves up familiar gauges, but lacks the deep customization and utter confusion of many new luxury cars. I was good with it.
The central touchscreen sits to the right, providing three core functions: media, navigation, and phone. Below it, and below the thin panel of vents and key climate buttons, is the retractable tablet screen. It houses most everything else, from steering wheel and side mirror positions to the drive modes and ambient moods. It can also duplicate on a bigger scale what’s displayed on the touchscreen above, which is ideal for navigation. It’s a missed opportunity that it can’t split the screens for navigation on the lower tablet and media on the upper touchscreen.
The navigation is way clearer and easier to interact with than Google or Apple Maps; wireless Apple CarPlay comes standard but Lucid hasn’t yet integrated Android Auto. Voice commands require an Amazon Alexa account, which I did not have.
Lucid Air space and roominess
The Lucid Air is sized within an inch of the Tesla Model S in most metrics, and even though it’s shorter than a 7-Series or S-Class on the outside, it’s as roomy on the inside. For $4,500 extra, Lucid will open up the Air Touring with a glass canopy roof, but the thin sun visors look like disembodied tail wings floating in space.
The front seats are supremely comfortable, especially with heating, cooling, and 14-way power adjustments standard on Touring. Headroom and legroom remain ample in the back, but because of the low roofline, you might need to duck your head getting in and out.
The trunk opens wide to reveal 22.1 cubic feet of space, which is enormous for a sedan, and the trunk lifts from near the bumper, so it’s easy to get things in and out. But the wheelwell and hinge covers squeeze the main storage area, so fitting a couple sets of golf clubs would require moving the longer clubs to the pass-through or folding down the 60/40-split rear seats. A recessed cubby in the floor fits a rollaboard and a backpack, as does the frunk that measures out to 9.9 cubic feet. That could easily accommodate a party of four for a long weekend getaway that doesn’t involve golf.
Lucid Air charging
Getting away for a road trip is a breeze, too, with a range of up to 425 miles on Touring models with the standard 19-inch wheels. My tester with the 20-inch aero wheels reduced the max range to 384 miles. I never came close to depleting it, and it nailed the EPA estimate of 3.6 miles per kwh after a 62-mile round trip, averaging 52 mph over a mix of highway and suburban roads.
The Lucid Air Touring’s 700+ volt capability enables DC fast-charging speeds of up to 200 kw, which translates to a 10-75% charge in 25 minutes. I only put 270 miles on the car, so I didn’t need to fast charge. I didn’t even need to charge on a Level 2 240-volt that would accept up to 19.2 kw and take about ten hours to charge, at a rate of up to 40 miles per hour, based on Lucid estimates. I charged at home overnight on my standard 120-volt outlet at 1.9 kw, going from 264 miles to 348 miles, or from 69% battery charge to more than 90% of charge in 12 hours. That’s one of the more impressive boosts of any EV I’ve tested.
At the end of the week I was sad to see it go. The Lucid Air is the rare car that every luxury car aspires to be: it makes you feel special. That it is one of the most efficient electric cars was a special bonus.
Lucid provided a weeklong loan of the 2023 Air Touring.
- Test drive: Charging pains road-tripping in the Mercedes EQS SUV
- 2024 Chevy Blazer EV 2LT AWD costs $56,715, has 279-mile range
- Test drive: 2023 Ford F-150 Tremor aces V-8 test despite towing challenges
- 2024 Toyota Camry costs between $27,515 and $37,940
- Test drive: 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid goes the extra mpg