This is part four of four in our series testing the Lucid Air Touring, the new ‘midrange’ luxury EV from Lucid Motors. Follow the coverage here.
“It’s an asshole car,” a friend laughed as I drove her around San Francisco. and I had to admit, she had a point.
Earlier that day, I was parked in a slim EV spot at Whole Foods, next to an accessible spot where a woman was getting something out of her car. When I approached with the key fob in my pocket, the car did what it always does, automatically unfolding the side mirrors.
In this case, however, that unfolding blocked the woman’s path to the sidewalk, forcing her to walk around the car. I apologized profusely and began wondering whether Lucid founder (and Tesla Model S designer) Peter Rawlinson’s engineers had considered an everyday city situation like this.
Golden Gate, silver fox: The Lucid Air Touring in San Francisco.
Credit: Lucid Motors
But that wasn’t the only reason my friend lobbed her loving insult. The top-down surround camera view encourages you to look at the car and the few inches around it when pulling out of a parking lot; pedestrians don’t appear unless they’re right next to it.
Annoyingly, surround view also replaces the navigation screen at speeds below 15 mph, often preventing me from seeing where my next turn was.
Also, the way the car annihilates distance had by now encouraged me to do all the things you associate with performance car drivers, including weaving impatiently around other traffic. There wasn’t an orange light where I didn’t think I could make it across the intersection in time, apparently.
and then there’s how low the car rides. This helps with its aerodynamics but also makes it hard to get out. I assumed my legs would adjust – heck, I’m a runner, with thighs to match – and it would feel less awkward after a week. It did not.
At least I didn’t do what my friend did getting out of the passenger side one last time, banging her head on the top of the door, sending her sunglasses flying. Nevertheless, she couldn’t stop laughing. The car could be a privileged asshole sometimes, but it was also undeniably fun.
Lucid’s leading indicators
Another friend in the tech world had taken a ride in one of the earliest Lucid Air prototypes years ago, but hadn’t seen the final product. So I drove us down Highway 1 to Pacifica – a beautiful, windy stretch of road you may recognize from multiple car commercials – and he drove us back.
His verdict? Overall, “it was a joy to drive,” he said. Suspension and traction exceeded his expectations, especially on the curves. The acceleration, zero to 60 in as little as 3.4 seconds, is most noticeable when you’re merging onto the freeway and never fails to delight.
The Lucid Air Touring test: 10 days in the latest luxury EV
But there were negative points I hadn’t considered. My friend noted that the roll cage – those bars to the left and right of the large glass canopy – were larger and more vision-obstructing than he’d expected. “Not sure I’d make that trade off” in day-to-day driving, he added.
He wasn’t a fan of the non-intuitive navigation system, or the way that key information like the car’s current range seemed to blend into the display.
He did at least master the turn signal, the extreme sensitivity of which had annoyed me since my first Lucid test drive. The Lucid’s left and right blinkers stop automatically after making a turn, but not when changing lanes – unless you give the turn indicator a non-intuitive longer press down, apparently. The blinker noise is so quiet I failed to notice it under music, and the blinker light blends into the display too easily.
I’d never quite felt like an older driver with his signal stuck on before now.
The end of the Lucid Air Touring.
Credit: Lucid Motors
I didn’t quite realize how much I’d fallen in love with the Lucid Air Touring until it was time to give it back. If I was the kind of person who could drop a thousand Benjamins on a new EV, I’d give this one some serious thought.
Though the hefty 4,850-lb vehicle never quite worked as a city car – the turning circle is too small, the parking awkward even with the autopark setting (which seemed a little too eager to swing out into the oncoming lane) – the Lucid did give me an incredible sense of easy access to everywhere.
Random unplanned long-ish drives that might have otherwise seemed like a chore, like meeting my friend at a conference the next day to return the sunglasses that the low door had knocked off her head, became a joy.
The Lucid is also a great car to just sit in, something I would find myself doing more and more at the end of a drive. It’s not just that the car doesn’t have an off button, which never stopped feeling weird (you’re supposed to set it in park with a click of the right gear stick and just walk away while it locks itself).
I drove the Lucid Air. It’s the future of cars.
It’s also the Dolby Atmos speakers, providing the clearest, crispest sound I’ve ever enjoyed in any vehicle. Even if the software does require you to turn the sound up from its midpoint every time you get in the car – another weird choice – it’s easy to control via the steering wheel.
You have to manually stop a song if you don’t want it blaring when you exit the EV (a very asshole car move), but who wants to stop a song when it sounds this good?
After handing over the weird rubber key fob thing, I returned to my old cars with new eyes. In my Toyota RAV4, oddly, I found myself driving more slowly. The Lucid Air hadn’t led me to be interested in speed per se, but in electric speed, preferably generated by as equal an amount of braking as possible.
The Toyota has a dial that shows you when your braking is charging the vehicle; I pay a lot more attention to that dial now.
The Fiat 500e, however, I found myself driving faster around town. Because why not use the incredible torque that you’ve got in such a light EV? No point in sipping mileage when it can just be plugged in every night; where charging on a basic level 1 charger and filling it up isn’t a pipe dream. Lacking the Lucid Air’s heft, I still felt somewhat like I was driving one (the lighter city-friendly version, at least).
and that, ultimately, is why it’s worth at least taking a test drive in any model of Lucid Air if you have the opportunity, even if you’d never consider buying one. Its hyper-engineered features may not fully account for the real world yet; its software is a work in progress; but fundamentally, this is how all electric cars should feel, and hopefully all will soon enough.
Even if Peter Rawlinson loses the long term war with Elon Musk for the luxury end of the market, the Lucid legacy will live on in other designs — and in all drivers who got to experience it.