Flash Drive: 2023 Lucid Air Touring AWD
Exceptional All-Electric Luxury Sedan
Lucid Motors invited the automotive media to California to drive the all-new 2023 Air Touring, one of the sedan offerings from Lucid. It slots below the top-end Sapphire, Air Dream launch edition and Air Grand Touring (more on that model at the end of this article), and above the Air Pure. We began in Santa Monica, traversing the Santa Monica Mountains to Ventura, and then retuning on Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu. This 160-mile drive spotlighted the handling, driving characteristics and performance. Brief Summary: the Air Touring is an exceptional all-electric luxury sedan.
The all-wheel drive Air Touring, with motors front and rear, produces 620 horsepower and 885 pound-feet of torque delivering an all-electric range of 425 miles with the 19-inch wheels and 384 miles with 20-inch wheels. In our mixed driving, which had significant motor regeneration due to mountain elevation and tight curves, we averaged 4 miles per kilowatt-hour (kWh). In the world of electric vehicles, this is very good efficiency.
Smile-inducing torque at any speed is what makes driving an electric car so special, and boy did the Air Touring deliver. Lucid set-up a mini drag strip, where after some expert instruction on how to use the launch control, we did 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds and hit 88 mph before lifting. The linear acceleration produced seat pinning glee as that sub-four seconds goes by real fast. Don’t blink.
We spent most of the time in the Air Touring negotiating mountain roads that offered a good opportunity to test the handling, weight shift, body roll and braking. At 4,987 pounds, the Air Touring has a balanced feel, especially on long stretches of open highway and in the Smooth drive mode. The staggered, 245/40 front and 265/40 rear Michelin Pilot Sport Summer tires have a bespoke Lucid compound and construction and were mounted on 20-inch Aero Lite wheels.
When pushing corners to their limit, I felt the Air’s weight, even in the Swift and Sprint drive modes that firmed-up the suspension and provided better steering precision. The steering feel was on the heavy side, which I prefer, giving a better ability to control the accuracy of turns. The electronically controlled adaptive dampers control the damping force of the suspension to provide for a smooth or firm ride, and the driver-selectable stability control changes the settings for the anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, and the torque vectoring.
Lucid has engineered the Air Touring to be an excellent long road tourer, hence the name. The balanced ride makes cornering fun but not in true sports car fashion, primarily due to the weight. While not afraid of them, most Air Touring owners will not be seeking out twisties on a regular basis, but will use the car in-town and on the open road.
Charging and Regeneration
There are three charging speed options for the 92 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery. Utilizing the car’s 700-volt charging system and the onboard 19.5 kW charger, the slowest is by a standard 120V household plug that delivers a full charge in about two and a half days. Most owners will opt to install a 240V Level 2 charger at their home that will replenish 10-to-100% in about 12.3 hours.
For the fastest charging, owners can take advantage of the three years of complementary unlimited charging at Electrify America stations. With a 300 kW charger, the battery will add about 200 miles in 15 minutes, or 10-to-80% in 44 minutes. Expect though to be charging at a slower speed, more like 150kW, where it will take about 50 minutes.
It is important to note cold weather can affect the charging time and driving range. The Air Touring does not come with a battery heater that warms the battery to a temperature for a faster and higher charge. Lucid says one is coming soon.
Charging is also through motor regeneration that when coasting or braking converts kinetic energy into electric energy and returns it to the battery. One pedal driving made it possible to do some driving without relying on the brakes.
Sleek Exterior Styling
When you spot any of the Lucid Air models, which should become more common, don’t be casual as getting a second glance could be problematic given the vehicle’s performance numbers. The sleek exterior with a long hood and short, almost bustle-like rear give it a very low 0.197 coefficient of drag (Cd) In comparison, the Mercedes-Benz EQS comes in at .200 Cd, and the Tesla Model S at .208 Cd, both of which are all-electric sedan competitors to the Lucid Air Touring.
Not needing a radiator, the nose is almost completely closed off and features wide-set slit LED adaptive headlights. The low 4.9 inch ground clearance, which is nearly the same as the Mazda MX-5 Miata (4.92 inches), looks long and slippery. It is easy to see how air is aerodynamically pushed over, under, sideways and around the Air Touring. The discerning eye will notice the charge door on the left front fender and the flush door handles.
The rear has an LED light strip running fender-to-fender and a demure, stylized Air Touring badge on the truck lid. This is a sleeper luxury sedan that isn’t crying out, “Hey, look at me!”
Spacious Interior: An Eye for Detail
The interior is a superb example of crafts people integrating fine materials into a well-designed cabin. Lucid names the Air Touring interiors after California destinations of Santa Cruz, Tahoe and Mojave. They all get Nappa leather seats with the option of full-grain or natural grain. Santa Cruz comes in a Black and Ceramic color palette with North American Walnut trim. Tahoe gets Black and Saddle and with Carbon Oak trim, and Mojave gets seats in Black and Graphite with Carbon Oak trim.
As to be expected on a luxury car, the Air Touring has power everything, including the sumptuous front seats with 14-way power adjustments that are heated, cooled, perforated and have a near full body massage feature. The heated rears don’t have massage, but are sculpted, comfortable and offer plenty of room for two adults to spread out. A third can sit in the middle, but not for long. The floor is completely flat so toes and knees will never be cramped, and there is a control panel to set and adjust the climate controls, and power side window shades.
Overhead, an optional Glass Canopy ($4,500) that is seamlessly connected to the windshield creates a sunroom effect from the hood to the rear window. Sunroom is appropriate as even with the glass being UV treated, any amount of sunshine heats the cabin. Bring a hat and sunglasses as there is no physical sunshade.
The storage options include the largest trunk in its class with the 60/40 split rear seat upright; folded flat, it expands further. More space to stash items is found throughout the cabin in the center console, door pockets and under the front console. There is a front trunk/frunk, which also is the largest in the EV sedan class.
The dash is dominated by a 34-inch, floating curved glass display that on the left side has touch controls for seats, lights, wipers and the door locks. The center part is the infotainment screen that, with a swipe down, moves content to another screen just below. The Air Touring we drove was equipped with the optional ($4,000) 21-speaker Surreal Sound Pro system with AM/FM/SiriusXM, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Wireless phone charging and Bluetooth are standard.
There are a few issues with the operating system, the Lucid User Experience. The designers were keen on form over function so there is a dearth of buttons and other switch gear, save for those found on the steering wheel and a volume wheel on the dash. This means everything must go through the touchscreen and require multiple pages and steps for even the simplest things a physical button or toggle would accomplish. The other issue is the Amazon Alexa voice assistant that was quirky, and was hit-or-miss with completing requested tasks. To use Amazon Alexa, it is necessary to set up an Alexa account and download the app. I have used this system in other cars and the account and app steps were not necessary.
The navigation and SiriusXM are Wi-Fi based systems, not satellite, which meant when they would go out (and they did) as I was driving. It was necessary to restart the car to boot them up again. The technology learning curve was steeper than other cars I have tested, and only being in the Air Touring for a short time, I decided to concentrate on driving and not being entertained while doing so.
Safety and Warranties
The Air Touring comes with a standard list of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) Lucid calls DreamDrive. This includes blind spot warning, lane departure protection, front and rear cross traffic alerts and automatic emergency braking. For an additional $10,000 you can order DreamDrive Pro that includes lane centering, 360 surround camera, blind spot cameras and the hardware necessary for over-the-air updates for semi-autonomous driving. Lucid did not say when or if this technology would be available.
The 2023 Lucid Air Touring is a new model and has not been safety rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), or the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS.)
The Air Touring has these warranties.
New Vehicle – Four years/50,000 miles
Battery – Eight years/100,000 miles
Powertrain – Eight years/100,000 miles
Corrosion – 10 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside Assistance – Four years/50,000 miles
Observations: 2023 Lucid Air Touring
There is something very satisfying about driving an electric car. The lack of sound as it moves down the road is wonderful, and the linear acceleration and instant torque from a stop or even at highway speeds is something to enjoy. This was expected before driving the 2023 Lucid Air Touring, but was amplified with what could be the benchmark for luxury electric sedans.
Climbing behind the wheel of the Lucid Air Touring, you’ll quickly have an appreciation for a fine automobile. The Air Touring has not-to-be-confused contemporary styling, and an impressive interior with generous passenger space that rivals many SUVs. The standard features list is deep, including a safety suite, making the Air Touring a value among direct competitor luxury electric sedans costing $100,000 and up.
There were some issues with the Air Touring that are being addressed and will be resolved, but certainly none in the areas of performance, ride, comfort, handling, charging and efficiency.
While the Lucid Air Touring will compete against Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Genesis, Audi, BMW and Cadillac, it has a strong case for those looking for a luxury electric sedan with the best efficiency and driving range.
The Air Touring is built in Lucid’s new assembly plant in Casa Grande, Arizona, where it will be joined in a year or so by the company’s first all-electric SUV, the Gravity.
Observations2: 2023 Lucid Air Grand Touring
But wait, there’s more. Lucid has opened up to the media in recent months as sales of its luxury sedan stalled. To mark the opening of its latest “studio” in Corte Madera in Marin County, just north of San Francisco, it invited Clean Fleet Report to come to see the store and test drive the Grand Touring model, which is slotted just above the Touring reviewed above.
While the Touring models starts at $107,400, the Grand Touring begins at $138,000. It has a 900-volt system that speeds up charging time, 1,050 horsepower and a 516-mile driving range. Our drive in the Grand Touring was short, but equally impressive as the longer one above. The level of performance and luxury displayed is impressive. Acceleration is beyond what can be safely and legally used on the local roads and freeway we traversed, but the precision of the handling was also evident.
With its potential 500+ mile range and fast-charging capability, the Grand Touring is well-named. Add in the spacious trunk and comfy seats and it combines all of the elements you need to hit the road for some serious exploring. As the high-speed charging networks continue to grow, these cars could live up to their name.
The store was inviting and well-equipped with two cars on display and extensive samples of all of the fabric and color options available. Every wall and table of the “studio” is designed to reinforce Lucid’s dedication to luxury and style. In that sense it’s much more like a traditional luxury automaker than Tesla’s more utilitarian approach. The storefront is nestled in an upscale mall (where it joins competitor Polestar), a short walk away from a bank of chargers and test drive models. Lucid has more than 40 studios open so it is beginning to reach out into the communities most likely to embrace a electric luxury sedan.
Lucid is making its case in the strongest way with the Touring and Grand Touring models, but the upcoming, lower price ($87,000) Pure potentially bringing even more attention to the brand. while the near supercar Sapphire mode ($249,000) may find aherents on the other end of the scale.
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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