By Cars.com EditorsNovember 23, 2021
About the video
We get behind the wheel of a new electric vehicle from a new company, Lucid. Can it match up to segment dominators like Tesla and newcomers like Mercedes-EQ? Watch our video to find out more.
(funky music) It might seem hard to believe, but it's actually been almost a decade since the Tesla model S was first introduced. And let's be honest here, it really hasn't changed that much since that introduction.
And if you wanted something new in terms of a full-size luxury, fully electric vehicle, your options back then were obviously very limited. But today they're not. There's a number of new competitors that have popped up, some from established automakers like Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, and some new startups like this one, this is the 2022 Lucid Air. And it is extraordinary, but who the heck is Lucid? Now of course you've heard of Tesla, but Lucid it might not be on your radar just yet, except that I think that they soon will be. You see they started back in 2007, initially intending to make components for other automakers' electric cars. But right around 2016 they decided that they were gonna make an electric car themselves. So they hired all the right people out of Detroit and California. They created their own factory in the middle of Arizona. And they've just now started delivering the first paying customers' cars all over the country. This is that first car. This is the new 2022 Lucid Air. And the numbers on this thing are stunning. The first model out the gate is this one. This is the Lucid Air Dream Edition. And this one in particular is the performance model. Now the performance model has some numbers that are almost staggering. 1,111 horsepower, 1,390 pounds feet of torque. Now that's the performance model. If you'd rather have the range model and go a little bit further, that'll get you 520 miles of range, but only delivers you 933 horsepower. How do they get such incredible numbers? Well part of it is the battery itself uses a 900 volt architecture, which makes it pretty much the most powerful one on the market today. To put that in perspective, if you found one of the new 800 volt, 300 kilowatt chargers that are very slowly starting to pop up around the world, you could theoretically charge this thing to 300 miles of range in just 20 minutes. Now, how do you actually generate these kinds of numbers? Well the secret is Lucid is focusing on something that not a lot of other automakers are talking about and that's efficiency. Now what do I mean when we're talking about efficiency? Well, it's the way that Lucid has designed a lot of the components of the new Air. Take this for instance. This is actually one of the motors, but it's not just the motor. It's the motor, it's the differential, it's all of the engine electronics and controllers. It weighs only 163 pounds. It can fit into a roller board suitcase to take on a plane. Of course you're over your weight limit, but it still fits in that kind of volume. Now the Lucid Air will use one of these at the rear or two of them, one at the front end, one at the rear, but looking how small the thing is, it allows them to really maximize the space efficiency in the rest of the car. And it's not just the motor and electronics. It's things like the aerodynamic efficiency of the car as well, 0.200 coefficient of drag. And that makes it one of the most slippery shapes that you can buy in a full-sized vehicle. In fact the EPA has actually rated the Lucid Air as the most efficient vehicle you can buy in terms of full-sized electric cars. And once you get that efficiency right, everything else just kind of falls into place. The speed, the recharging, the weight, the handling, all of it really does improve if you can maximize that efficiency. But all the efficiency in the world doesn't matter hella beans if it's not fun to drive. I mean, witness the Toyota Prius. This is absolutely no Prius. In fact this is probably one of the most rapid vehicles I have ever driven. You push the sprint button here on the dash and you put it into the mode that gets you all 1,111 horsepower and the thing is a rocket ship from point to point. But despite the fact that it is such a large vehicle and it is a pretty good sized full-sized sedan, it still feels a lot lighter, a lot more nimble than you would expect. Now, the performance model that I drove had 21 inch wheels on some summer tires. So it was gonna have a lot of really good grip and it did, but it's more than that. It's the feedback through the wheel. It's the feedback through the brakes. The brakes themselves actually have a very natural feel unlike a competitor, say like the Mercedes-Benz EQS, which has break feel that is absolutely some of the worst I've ever driven in an electric vehicle. Not so in the Lucid Air, this thing really feels extremely well engineered, very well buttoned down, and frankly worth the money that they're asking for it. The interior is a really interesting mix of the minimalist design of a Tesla model S but it also has the opulence of a new Mercedes-Benz EQS. So you've got outstanding material quality. You've got a super clear digital dash, but it's not going overboard like the EQS does where you have 56 inches of screen from window to window. It's also very low. So you can see out and see over all of the technology really quite easily. Again, unlike in the Mercedes which looks like you're facing a big electronic cliff. Now, just about everything in here is capacitive touch and touch screens. And while we're not really big fans of touchscreens everything I think we're probably losing that fight as more and more cars seem to feature nothing but touchscreens. However, it does work pretty well. And it's not burying things in menus. Like you would see in both the Mercedes and in the Tesla model S. Yeah, things like changing the mirror position or the steering wheel position does require you to push a couple of different buttons on the touch screen, but it's really not that bad. And I have a feeling you'll learn it pretty quickly once you get used to the vehicle itself. It's also really quite spacious in here. Despite the fact that you have this full glass roof there's plenty of headroom. Now, the A pillar is a little low, but this has to be thick and it has to be strong because the car is still a little bit heavy and you have to have certain roof crush standards. That's why you have such a thick pillar. The backseat is actually really quite roomy. You've got a lot of leg room, you've got a lot of headroom. You do have to duck down a little bit to get into it because of the low roof, but this low roof is required in order to get the super slippery shaped that gives it its aerodynamic efficiency. It is a little bit more comfortable in the back I think than the Mercedes EQS in that you do have more headroom. You don't have your knees up in your chest like you do in the Mercedes EQS. So I think I would give the nod to this thing in terms of overall comfort, overall style, friendliness, usability, they've really done their homework. And I think they've got a passing grade here. It's not just the interior packaging efficiency that's extraordinary. It's also the cargo and storage areas. Check out the trunk. It's a clamshell hood, but the opening is so low that it's so easy to just pick up a suitcase, slide it right in. And you have a ton of room here. There's even an under trunk storage area that's super deep as well. And you want another advantage over the Mercedes EQS. You've got a frunk on the Lucid Air. You can't open the hood on the EQS, but up here, you've got 10 cubic feet of room. That's enough for at least one or two more suitcases. Now, if you want a Lucid Air, well, you probably should have put your order in about a year ago because those initial launch versions are the ones that are currently being built and delivered to customers. But early next year they're gonna start building some of the lesser trims. Now this one which is the Lucid Air Dream Performance Model started at about $170,000. But the coming ones, the lesser trim models are going to cost significantly less. The entry-level pure model actually is going to start just under $80,000. And then you work your way up from there to the touring and the grand touring model with varying degrees of performance and range and power. I have to say that the Lucid Air really did surprise me. It is a fully realized fully fledged electric competitor to things like the Tesla model S and the Mercedes-Benz EQS. It drives just as well as any of them. It's more opulent inside than some competitors. It's easier to use as well. If all of their models are as good as their first car, I think Lucid is really going to be a company to watch. If you'd like to learn more about the Lucid Air, you can look everything up on cars.com.
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