Lucid Air Reveiw: This May Be the Most Interesting Electric Car on the Road

The California-designed Lucid Air's magic is in the details–the glass roof, innovative controls, superior power and electric range–in a surprisingly understated sedan

Lucid Air Featured Image

Don’t Let Its Demure Good Looks Fool You

When the Lucid Air won the World Luxury Car of the Year in 2023, many were surprised by this outlier. Yes, it boasts the most electric power and range in the electric car industry — 1200 HP and a range of more than 500 miles in its top-of-the-line Sapphire model.

And yes, it’s outfitted in sumptuous leather, elegant wools and an aesthetic that inspires calm and and athleticism.

But, the Lucid Air is a large sedan. It’s unimposing; it’s not flashy. And it’s completely new to the market. Clearly, it’s impressive and it’s luxurious.

So of course, we had to explore it more.

Related: 13 of Our Absolute Favorites, the Best Electric Cars, Hybrids, and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles

This Console Tray Is Embossed With The California Monarch Bear

This console tray is embossed with the California Monarch bear. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Lucid’s Dynamic DNA

One of the reasons the Lucid Air is so interesting is that it has incredible DNA. CEO Peter Rawlinson, who cut his teeth as an engineer at Jaguar and Lotus, migrated to electric cars early, joining Tesla in 2010 as the chief engineer of the Tesla S. In 2013 he joined Lucid as chief technology officer before becoming the company’s top leader.

And, the company filled its leadership ranks with executives from automotive and luxury: Derek Jenkins, former chief of design at Mazda North America and VW North America; Eric Bach, former director of engineering at Tesla; Michael Bell, former CTO of Rivian; Steven David, formerly Stellantis VP of manufacturing, Andrea Soriano, formerly head of marketing at Tag Heuer, Maserati North America and Ferrari North America.

Adding to its expertise, Lucid has supplied batteries to cars competing in Formula E, the electric version of Formula 1. That is quite the credential; Formula E is quite ambitious, increasing its endurance and distance standards every year.

Lucid’s design and HQ offices are in California and the company’s manufacturing operations are in Arizona, which is another DNA signal: like Tesla, it’s built in the US, a nice detail for an American start-up company. Lucid even notes this by naming its interiors for places in California, such as Mojave (our test model) or Santa Cruz. Each is also marked with the longitude and latitude of its place of manufacture. And there are Easter eggs throughout the car: A Monarch icon, the California state bear symbol, can be found throughout; we found it in the center console, on the windshield, on seat tabs and other places. Finding all the bears is a fun game.

So what is it like to drive a car created with all this fire power? In a word, awesome.

Related: The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ Electric Car: My Happy Place Just Got Happier

The Front Seat In The Lucid Air

The front seat in the Lucid Air. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Behind the Wheel of the Lucid Air

Slip behind the wheel of the Lucid Air, key fob in hand or in your handbag, and you’re ready to go. There’s no ‘start’ button; once the key is detected — or, you can use your phone or face detection to start and drive the car — just press the brake and it comes alive. Tap  the gear selector stalk, put it in gear and go. The process is fast, eliminating unnecessary steps that we’re used to in gas-powered cars.

And then, be careful. These cars are fast. Our test model didn’t carry the top level 1,200 horsepower, which is the hallmark of the top of the line Sapphire model, priced at $250K, or a 500 mile range, which is available in the Grand Touring GT model, priced from $125K. With a starting price of about $77K, which has 410 HP and a 430 mile range, even entry level buyers won’t be disappointed. Our model, with a $107K price tag, had about 620 HP and about 425 miles of range.

Which is plenty. That’s about double the average electric car on the road right now.

But is all that horsepower too much? I never found a place during my test drive where I felt I needed more power, or even, felt I could use all 620 HP. Even in Texas where some roads have an 85 MPH speed limit.

And sadly, I was never able to use launch mode, though I did learn how: Put the car in drive, turn off all the Dream Drive safety functions, put it in “Sprint” mode, press the brake with one foot and the accelerator with the other, and launch mode is activated. This puts all 620 HP in action. But do this in a safe place. It’s an unprecedented amount of power, and those in the 1,200 HP model will essentially be sitting behind the wheel of a bullet.

What this car is really good at doing is whisking you along the highway as if on a cloud; it’s quiet, it’s steady and the cabin is a haven. One pedal driving allows you to mostly use the accelerator, even to come to a full stop in traffic or when the highway slows to a crawl. I barely used the the brake all week during my test drive.

Related: The 2022 BMW iX Electric SUV is the Most Brilliant Bauble of them All

The Wide, Roomy Rear Seat In The Lucid Air

The wide, roomy rear seat in the Lucid Air. Photo: Scotty Reiss

We Have to Talk About the Lucid Air Interior

At first blush, I found the colors and textures to be luxurious, sure, but also, staid. Dark leather, muted tones, small screens. As with the exterior, nothing was overly flashy; it is all very subtle, but thoughtful. I really liked the smallish main multimedia screen and right-sized driver display screen, which are high definition with crisp images.  There’s an additional 3rd screen, a panel on the left side where headlight, charge door and frunk touch controls are.

Below the main screen there’s a second screen called the Pilot Panel. This is where you’ll find most of the car’s controls and functions such as driver assist features and drive modes. And then, it gets clever and makes you feel pretty cool: the Pilot Panel can feature almost anything that the multimedia screen can feature; you just swipe down from the top screen and have it appear on the Pilot Panel. If you don’t want to see that —and want to return to the home screen, swipe up. And if you don’t want the screen in view at all, tap the bottom and it retracts into the dashboard. It’s clever and lovely.

The Screens In The Lucid Air

The screens in the Lucid Air. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Luxuriously Thoughtful Details Fill the Lucid Air

While the overall appearance of the interior didn’t wow me, many of the small details did. Such as the cubby behind the Pilot Panel, and built-in cord storage in case you decide to plug in your phone rather than connect to the wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and use the wireless phone charger — I almost never find those to do much more than keep my phone at its current charge level; if you need to add charge, plug it in.

But that’s a small detail. The bigger luxuries are in the glass roof that, in Tesla X style, extends the windshield overhead and back to the rear window. The roof is bisected by supports across the top of the roof, a safety and structural necessity, as well as between the rear window and the roof. But the overall effect is pure, glorious light and … air.

Another true luxury is all the space in the rear seat. Passengers will feel chauffeured; they’ll be able to recline back and cross their legs and still have space between them and the front seat. In our test model we had controls for climate, a rear sun shade and all 3 rear seats are heated. Last, the flat floor means everyone can stretch out without encroaching on someone else’s foot space, or put your bag or backpack in the center and it stays there. Really, this is a benefit of electric cars, and it’s so lovely.

I Love The Cord Storage In The Center Console

I love the cord storage in the center console. Photo: Scotty Reiss

This New Car Company is a Breath of Fresh… Gravity?

Lucid is a newish car company making a splash with buyers. They’ve produced more than 8,000 Airs so far, have set up hundreds of retail locations and are gearing up to produce a second model, the Gravity 3-row SUV, which we saw at the Los Angeles Auto Show. And while the Air doesn’t qualify for federal tax incentives of up to $7,500 due to price thresholds, the Gravity’s base model should, which is good news for buyers.

With attention to detail, a fresh approach to design and engineering and intuitive function, the Air is all that, with an understated elegance.

Lights And Chrome Illuminate The Front Of The Lucid Air

Lights and chrome illuminate the front of the Lucid Air. Photo: Scotty Reiss

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss

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