2022 Lucid Air Grand Touring Test Drive and Review: Flagship for All EVs?

Is this the best electric car money can buy?

2022 Lucid Air Grand TouringManuel Carrillo III | Capital One

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Lucid is making a bold statement as it enters the car market. The Air luxury sedan is the new automaker's flagship and comes to the party with solid credentials. With an EPA-estimated range of up to 516 miles and the ability to fast charge at speeds up to 300 kW, the Air represents a leap forward for electric vehicle (EV) capability.

The Air's closest competitor, the Tesla Model S, features an EPA-estimated range of up to 405 miles and a peak charging speed of 250 kW. Other direct competitors like the Audi E-tron GT and Porsche Taycan feature peak fast-charging speeds closer to the Lucid's at 270 kW, but their respective maximum EPA ranges of 238 and 246 miles fall short when compared with the Lucid.

Beyond those charging speeds and the class-leading range, Lucid has positioned the Air as a leader in efficiency, performance, and luxury, wrapped in the kind of design that oozes style and presence. Could this be the best EV money can buy?

2022 Lucid Air Grand TouringManuel Carrillo III

For this Lucid Air review, I traced routes wide across Southern California in the Grand Touring model, which for 2022 started at $155,650, including the $1,650 destination charge. That was also my example's as-tested price. The Air Grand Touring is essentially a carryover for the 2023 model year, but Lucid removed some formerly standard features to lower the base price to around $140,000.

Those no-longer-compulsory features include the 21-inch Aero Blade wheels, the Level 3 semi-autonomous-ready DreamDrive Pro advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), and the Surreal Sound Pro premium audio upgrade. Add all those options back, and the 2023 Lucid Air Grand Touring returns to the same manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) as my 2022 example. Lucid provided the vehicle for this review.

2022 Lucid Air Grand TouringManuel Carrillo III

2022 Lucid Air Review: The Design

The Lucid Air has the kind of looks that make me want to "put a ring on it." I haven't seen a sedan this good since the 2016 Aston Martin Lagonda Taraf, and that thing cost a million bucks. I can't find a bad angle on the Lucid.

Speaking of Aston Martin, that brand has what I consider to be the most arrestingly terrific fragrance. Open the door of the Lucid Air Grand Touring, and you're welcomed by the same smell. Brilliant. The similarity may not be accidental, either, as Lucid gets their leather from the same supplier as Aston Martin, Lincoln, and Jaguar Land Rover.

2022 Lucid Air Grand TouringManuel Carrillo III

Your eyes and fingertips are no less delighted. Lucid draped the well-fastened interior of my example in silky Nappa leather, employing an inventively executed two-tone color scheme: black front seats and a saddle color for the rear row. This particular Tahoe theme is one of four from which you can choose. Lucid says that assorted California locations at certain times of the day inspire its interiors.

2022 Lucid Air Grand TouringManuel Carrillo III

A gorgeous 34-inch, 5K-resolution Glass Cockpit display sits ahead of the driver. The screen's left side houses touch controls for the door locks, frunk, charge port, defroster, exterior lights, and rain-sensing wipers. Ideally, there would be physical controls for most of these items, but I appreciate that Lucid clustered them in an easy-to-access location.

The instrument display lives in the center of the screen, and the automaker devotes the right side to infotainment, which can expand to the tablet-sized, retractable Pilot Panel just below. I had a lot of fun watching my friends "ooh" and "ah" every time I'd demonstrate that party trick of a hideaway control panel.

2022 Lucid Air Grand TouringManuel Carrillo III

Between the Glass Cockpit display screen and Pilot Panel sits discrete temperature and fan speed controls for both the driver and passenger, but most importantly, a volume knob. Thank you, Lucid. There's also a comprehensive and fetching set of controls on the steering wheel that are simple to use without taking your eyes off the road.

The chunky cruise control and volume toggles flanking the horn pad require a bit of thumb heft to manipulate, which minimizes accidental triggering. Still, I’d like to feel more fluidity added to their movement because they’re clunky as they are now.

The overall infotainment and control interface, like those of other modern-day luxury cars, requires a bit of a learning curve, but it's steeper with the Lucid. I needed an additional day or so of familiarization before I felt proficient.

2022 Lucid Air Grand TouringManuel Carrillo III

The most significant interface pain points for me were frequently having to swipe through menus to control the seat heating, ventilation, and massage, as well as the drive modes. There should be physical buttons for all those functions, and simply that change alone would make the Lucid Air significantly easier to live with every day. Still, in my opinion, the knobs and buttons that Lucid decided to include make the Air's overall control layout better than that of the Tesla Model S.

Logging 659.3 miles on the Lucid Air's odometer, I got expertly familiar with the driver's seat. The front chairs alone fall on the more impressive end of the luxury car spectrum, but the massage function elevates them to the next level. Play around with the five massage programs, and you'll get poked and vibrated to new levels of joy during every drive.

Each time I'd drop into the car, one of the first things I'd do was activate the massage. The Lucid Air offers the most memorable seat massaging of any car I've ever tested, so no surprise it was the creature comfort I used the most, thus making me extra salty that there's no dedicated physical button for it. Yes, I know, first-world problems.

2022 Lucid Air Grand TouringManuel Carrillo III

While there's no massage for the rear seats, the back row is still splendid because it’s comfortable and spacious. Even though the battery pack raises the floor and reduces toe room under the front seats, there's so much legroom back there that your toes won't care.

Also, unlike other EV sedans, your knees aren't elevated toward your chest, again, thanks to that abundance of legroom. At 5-feet 9.5-inches and 140 pounds, there is plenty of rear-seat headroom for someone of my stature, so a 6-footer of average build should fit in the back of a Lucid Air with no issues.

2022 Lucid Air Grand TouringManuel Carrillo III

The back-middle seat is also wide and soft enough to quash complaints from any average-sized occupant, so long as the minutes don’t stretch into hours on your drive. Rear passengers also have access to dedicated climate and seat-heating controls for the outboard positions via a touchscreen at the rear of the center console.

Storage space is also abundant. The frunk can swallow up to 10 cubic feet of your stuff, and the trunk a whopping 22.1 cu-ft. Each door has a bin, the center console goes deep, and if you need extra space, a small clutch and a couple of mobile devices can sit comfortably underneath the retractable Pilot Panel.

2022 Lucid Air Grand TouringManuel Carrillo III

2022 Lucid Air Review: The Technology

All Lucid Air sedans come standard with embedded navigation. Like many automakers' route-guidance systems, this one literally misses the mark. Inputting an address is easy enough, but on my first round of turn-by-turn, the car navigated me to a random point more than a mile from my intended destination. I didn't bother using the Lucid navigation after that.

According to Lucid's consumer website, Apple CarPlay with a wireless connection and Android Auto are coming via a forthcoming over-the-air update. It would have been nice to have those features. Instead, when I needed navigation, I retracted the Pilot Panel and laid my iPhone into the tray underneath so I could confidently navigate myself.

The Lucid User Experience infotainment system employs Amazon’s Alexa for voice-controlling the car's features. I've used Alexa in the Buick Encore GX, and I loved how simple and effective the vehicle-integrated version of the Amazon assistant was to use. But with the Buick, I didn't have to set up an Alexa account to use the feature. The Lucid Air, however, requires an account. Seeing as I didn't want to put up with that hassle, I skipped using Alexa in the Lucid altogether.

2022 Lucid Air Grand TouringManuel Carrillo III

Connecting my phone via Bluetooth was a straightforward affair. So was linking the built-in Spotify with my user account, which I recommend because there's a noticeable improvement in sound quality when streaming from the Air's native Spotify versus Bluetooth-streaming from a phone.

Lucid equipped my test vehicle with the $4,000, 21-speaker Surreal Sound Pro upgrade. I had high hopes for this system, but it ended up being forgettable. The audio is clear and accurate but lacking in the low end at soft and moderate volumes. You have to crank the knob to get a more palpable sound but at the expense of your hearing.

2022 Lucid Air Grand TouringManuel Carrillo III

Lucid equips the Air with a comprehensive ADAS suite called DreamDrive, which includes blind-spot monitoring, front and rear cross-traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition, ultrasonic parking sensors, rear pedestrian collision protection, a driver monitoring system, and automated parallel/perpendicular parking (another feature with which I loved wowing my friends.)

With that breath-consuming breadth of equipment, you're not left wanting. Cue the announcer saying, "But wait, there's more!" For an additional $10,000, you can score yourself DreamDrive Pro, which adds a 360-degree camera, a blind-spot view monitor that streams a video feed of your left or right blind spots when you activate the corresponding turn signal, lane centering, and all the hardware required for an eventual software update that will lift the Air into the Level 3 semi-autonomous ranks.

My test vehicle had DreamDrive Pro, and I wouldn't recommend it. The Lucid gets both adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist as part of standard equipment, and on the road the systems are fine. Not outstanding, but not bad either. The lane centering worked well most of the time, but tended to misbehave in heavier traffic. A Kia Forte I drove with adaptive cruise control and lane centering was more confidence inspiring in many of the same driving situations. As a result, I kept lane centering switched off most of the time.

At the time of publication, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety had performed crash tests on any model year of the Lucid Air.

2022 Lucid Air Grand TouringManuel Carrillo III

2022 Lucid Air Review: The Drive

Powering the Lucid Air Grand Touring is a 112-kWh battery pack that sends juice to motors at the front and rear axles for a combined output of 819 horsepower and 885 pound-feet of torque. Those figures are enough to get the roughly 5,200-lb. Air to 60 mph in 3 seconds flat. That's the kind of acceleration that forces you to urge your passengers to place their heads firmly against the headrests whenever you want to slap the accelerator to the floor. Otherwise, your co-pilots are in for a firm slap to the back of the head.

As fun as it is to stomp the Lucid's accelerator every chance you get, that's not the recipe for efficiency. Drive with a more judicious right foot, and the Air Grand Touring can get up to an EPA-estimated 469 miles of range on cars equipped with 21-inch wheels, as my test vehicle had. With 19-inch wheels, the range soars to 516 miles, making the Lucid Air Grand Touring the longest-range EV on sale today.

After 659.3 miles of testing, I used 259 kWh of electricity, which translates to 39 kWh per 100 miles — less efficient than the EPA's 28-kWh-per-100-miles estimate. That said, on my more efficient stretches, the Lucid's estimated range decreased in proportion to miles traveled, so I'm confident I could have reached within the ballpark of the Air's EPA range during a dedicated efficiency test.

It was without question the smoothest experience I’ve ever had charging in a non-Tesla electric vehicle. The Lucid is capable of charging at 300 kW, but the peak charging rate I saw at the 350kW Electrify America chargers was 174 kW. Like most EVs, the Lucid is only able to ramp up close to those peak figures while quick charging. To put that in perspective, with an EPA rated usable range of 469 miles, I was able to recover 302 miles of range in 30 minutes. That’s the equivalent of restoring the entire usable battery capacity of a BMW i4 M50.

2022 Lucid Air Grand TouringManuel Carrillo III

As a luxury sedan, you'd expect the Lucid Air to have a quiet, velvety ride. Well, it achieves one of those with flying colors, and it's not the quiet part. The cabin attenuates road and wind noise about as well as an average-priced, three-row family crossover. In other words, the Lucid Air's cabin isn't loud, but I think it should be significantly quieter for a $100,000+ luxury car. The BMW i4 M50 remains the quietest EV I've ever tested and costs roughly half of what the Lucid Air Grand Touring commands.

At least the Lucid boasts a more compliant ride with its adaptive dampers at their softest setting in tandem with the sedan's most comfortable Smooth drive mode. Even in Smooth, the Air can still corner flatly. In the more aggressive Swift and Sprint modes, the dampers are only a hair firmer, so you feel slightly more connected to the road, but even then, the ride quality remains excellent. The two sporty driving modes shine by offering greater precision when you're driving spiritedly. Set up as such, this sedan strikes one of the best ride/handling balances I've ever encountered.

Terrific steering that boasts plenty of accuracy and directness complements the incredible ride and handling; there's even a modicum of steering feel. Regardless of drive mode, the steering feels a touch heavy, but you'll get the most of that resistance in Swift and Sprint, which are basically the same mode, except Sprint unleashes all the car's power and torque.

2022 Lucid Air Grand TouringManuel Carrillo III

Unfortunately, my tester seemed disenchanted whenever I would peek past 7/10ths. When I would dig toward the car's limits, those 5,200 lbs. began to cry for attention, which I found surprising. All other performance-oriented EVs I've edged past 7/10ths have hidden their weight with an almost mystical skill level. This Lucid didn't, and I think its Pirelli P Zero summer tires were to blame.

I've been impressed with Pirelli P Zero electric car summer rubber in the past. In my review last year of the BMW i4 M50, I was blown away by the grip of the car’s P Zeroes. However, with the Lucid Air, the tires felt overwhelmed, as though I was driving on budget-brand all-seasons.

2022 Lucid Air Grand TouringManuel Carrillo III

The Lucid's formidable brakes reinforced my belief that the tires were a weak link. The braking feel is responsive, linear, the pedal effort is just right, and I could tell the brakes wanted to give me more bite. Still, once I surpassed about 80-percent pedal travel, the contact patches would flounder into a pathetic surrender, the ABS backstopping their shortfall.

The Lucid Air's chassis is so well engineered it’s easier to spot a weak link like tires that lack grip. What's most puzzling to me is that these Pirellis are the same model of tire that was on that ferociously grippy i4 M50. Upon visual inspection, the treads weren't worn and didn't appear abused before the vehicle arrived in my driveway, so this may have been a tire production aberration.

2022 Lucid Air Grand TouringManuel Carrillo III

Is the 2022 Lucid Air a Good Electric Car?

The Lucid Air is not without its flaws. Its tech suite has room for improvement, and its upper trims (Grand Touring and higher) are overpriced. If you were to opt for a base Lucid Air Pure at around $89,000, you'd be getting 85 percent of the experience of my Grand Touring tester but for only 57 percent of the price.

Also, the decision is easy for me when weighing the choice between a base Lucid Air and a base Model S. Though the EPA has yet to finalize its estimates, the rear-wheel-drive Lucid Air Pure will reportedly offer a range 1 mile longer than the base Model S's 405 miles while undercutting the Tesla by around $7,500. Furthermore, the Lucid has a more sophisticated-feeling chassis, is more luxurious, and, to my eyes, at least, looks way better than the Model S.

With all those advantages, then, the Lucid Air is the better car, and in my opinion, the new flagship of all electric vehicles. Is it the best EV money can buy? I'd say so, as long as you're not spending too much.

2022 Lucid Air Grand TouringManuel Carrillo III

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Manuel Carrillo III
Though he works within every facet of automotive media, Manuel Carrillo III is happiest in front of the camera, where he currently co-hosts a popular TV show on a major network. Before joining Capital One, Manuel was automotive reviews editor at a large technology publication. He also contributes feature stories to a leading outlet in the global luxury market, so adventures like driving house-priced automobiles in Sicily, or rubbing elbows with the rich and famous is well within the parameters of a 'typical day at the office.'