2022 Lucid Air Review: A Luxurious Long-Range EV Marred by Software Bugs
The issues ranged from all of the car’s volume not working to a limited-capacity mode that didn’t automatically clear.
The blossoming EV market gives us no shortage of cars to be excited for. Take, for example, the 2022 Lucid Air. With its sleek looks, massively long range, and tiny battery, the Air is here to give Tesla, BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes a run for their money. As one of the newer kids on the block but still competing in the highly competitive luxury EV space, it has some pretty tough competition to beat.
Like it or not, many of the electric options on the market still gravitate toward the high-end. Starting close to $100,000 or above, the Air is by no means cheap, so the trick here will be to see what it does that the others do not.
I put 708 miles on an Air Grand Touring recently to find out.
2022 Lucid Air Grand Touring Review Specs
- Grand Touring base price (as tested): $139,650 ($153,650)
- Powertrain: 112-kWh battery | dual permanent-magnet electric motors | 1-speed transmission | all-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 819
- Torque: 885 lb-ft
- Seating capacity: 5
- Curb weight: 5,203 pounds
- Cargo volume: 10 cubic feet (front trunk) | 22.1 cubic feet (rear trunk)
- 0-60 mph: 3 seconds
- Top speed: 168 mph
- EPA-estimated range: 516 miles (19-inch wheels) | 469 miles (21-inch wheels)
- Quick take: Despite its crazy-good range and very comfortable road manners, the Air Grand Touring suffers from software issues that could deter a buyer.
- Score: 7/10
The Air is the first car from EV startup Lucid Motors, which was founded in 2007. Its leadership includes members who are familiar with cars and the auto industry: a CEO and CTO, Peter Rawlinson, who was Tesla’s former vice president and chief engineer of the Model S; a vice president, Derek Jenkins, who was Mazda’s head of design in North America. There will be an upcoming SUV called the Gravity, supposedly arriving later this year, but for now, the Air sedan is the only Lucid model available. The car I was loaned was the Air Grand Touring, which is the long-range one capable of an EPA-estimated 516 miles.
There’s no other word for it: The Air looks cool. There’s a big, wraparound headlight bar above a grille-less fascia, which is sculpted to look like it’s meant to slip through, uh, air. It has a drag coefficient of 0.21, and to put that into perspective, the very slippery Mercedes Vision EQXX prototype and the Tesla Model S have drag coefficients of 0.17 and 0.208, respectively. It’s a sedan with a fastback silhouette, its rear tapering neatly into a short tail end where the big, horizontal light bar theme continues. Instead of the 21-inch wheels found on other models, the Air Grand Touring sports 19-inch wheels, no doubt to help with increasing its range.
True to its name, the car’s cabin is indeed airy, owing to the single-piece Glass Canopy windshield that sweeps upward to join the ceiling. The seats are comfortable and—owing to how small the Air’s drive components themselves are—the clamshell rear trunk and front trunk are surprisingly deep. Infotainment controls are nested in a giant, vertically oriented tablet, while the driver gleans information from a massive, 34-inch curved display that boasts 5K resolution. You put the car “in gear” via a column-mounted shifter.
From its 112-kWh, dual-motor setup, the Air Grand Touring produces a claimed 819 horsepower and 885 lb-ft of torque. It also has a 900-volt charging system—one of, if not, the fastest charging systems currently on the market. Provided you find a fast enough charger, of course.
Driving the Lucid Air
Behind the wheel, the Air has the now-familiar instant electric torque, the gleeful whee of acceleration from the motors, and the fairly powerful one-pedal driving if you choose the most aggressive setting. It’s a heavy car, and you’ll feel the weight if you take a corner quickly. The steering isn’t the sharpest feeling, nor does it inspire the most confidence when driving in this manner, so I’d recommend treating the Air with smoother inputs.
The ride quality was curiously a bit crashy over bigger bumps. Lucid made the decision to forgo air suspension in favor of steel coil springs, so I have no idea what the car would have been like with them, but I will note that it didn’t ride as pillowy as I’d expect from something at this price point.
That being said, though, the Air Grand Touring is a wonderful long-distance cruiser. The seats are incredibly comfortable and supportive, with front-seat massage standard on this trim. These provided a very welcome butt massage, making those long highway drives less crampy. I tried out DreamDrive Pro as well, Lucid’s LIDAR-equipped adaptive cruise control system, and found it to be just as good as the impressive system I’ve experienced in modern Hyundais and Kias. (This is high praise.) Progressive and easy to use, it fostered my trust immediately because it never made any sudden movements.
Rear seat passengers all adored the cushy seats and praised the legroom, especially when sitting behind me. When free of other passengers, all of our luggage disappeared without issue into the car’s cabin and two trunks. The clamshell rear trunk lid does make sliding a big suitcase in a little awkward since you can’t lower it in. In this case, I do think the car could have benefitted from a hatch-style trunk door. But other than that, packing the car was a breeze.
Range, Charging, and Efficiency
In normal conditions (temperatures above freezing, 19-inch wheels without winter tires) I have no doubt the Air Grand Touring will return close to if not more than the EPA-estimated 516 miles of range. But, seeing as it was both cold out and the car came equipped with snow shoes, there’s no doubt range was affected somewhat. For example, when left overnight in 35-degree weather, the car’s projected range dropped by 20 miles.
During this loan, I also got to try out Electrify America’s new but confusingly named “Hyper-Fast” 350-kW DC fast charger at a Walmart parking lot in Albany, New York. The Air was equipped with plug and charge, so there was no fumbling with creating an account or any of that nonsense during this test. In a space of 42 minutes, the car gained 288 miles, going from 112 estimated remaining miles to 400. That’s not the “300 miles in 21 minutes” claim Lucid makes on its site, but the 350-kW fast charger also never exceeded 145 kW of charge for whatever reason.
For the rest of the time I had the car, it was largely parked in a driveway and plugged into a standard wall outlet, charging at a speed of 1 kW or about 3 miles per hour. This is fine if you don’t drive frequently, but if you do, it might be worth investing in a more powerful home charger.
For the final range test, I made sure the car was fully charged before attempting the trip back home from Vermont to New York City without stopping to juice up, something I have never dared to attempt in an EV before. The reported range was 459 miles—short of the official 516 figure likely because of temperature and tires. Our journey took 275 miles and upon touching back down into the city, the car reported an estimated 70 miles of range left. But this was very encouraging, seeing as we put the Air through some truly miserable EV conditions: sub-freezing temperatures, tons of highway driving, winter tires, and with the heat blasting. If I owned the car and there was a nice Level 3 or even Level 2 charger waiting for me at the end of that trip, I could have headed straight into a Monday commute the next morning. Until the next long-range competitor comes along, there’s no other car I’d trust with an expedition like that.
I’ll keep saying this until I’m hoarse: relegating most controls to a touchscreen is a bad and annoying idea. The Air has physical toggles for volume, fan speed, and HVAC temperature, but steering wheel and wing mirror adjustments are controlled via its touchscreen. Most frustratingly, windshield wiper settings are also controlled via a touchscreen to the left of the steering wheel. I cannot think of a worse time to consult a screen than when it’s already raining and visibility is limited.
Other small and bothersome factors included a roofline that was a touch too low, causing passengers of all heights to hit their heads against it, A- and roof pillars being too thick and difficult to see around, and Glass Canopy tinting that came down a little too far that made driving at night feel like wearing a baseball cap too low over my eyes.
Sub-freezing temperatures were another thing that disagreed with the car. Specifically, I mean ice. Because of its commitment to aerodynamics, the Air has body-flush door handles and no exterior latch (that I could discover) for its front trunk. So, when it snowed and a thin layer of ice accumulated all over the car, the unlock motors sometimes struggled to open the handles or pop the hood up.
It’s also here that I’ll tell you about some of the software issues that arose during my time with the car.
Because I wanted this to be the full Lucid experience, I downloaded the Lucid app and used it throughout my loan. This meant being able to monitor the car’s remaining battery capacity, lock and unlock the doors, and remotely confirm software updates. The app worked as advertised, but load times were slow. Often, I’d have to quit and relaunch it because I’d get a neverending loading symbol.
Saturday morning came and I checked on the car after I woke up. The app said it was due for a software update, so I confirmed it and went about getting ready. The update was completed in about 15 minutes. We packed up the car and got on the road—there was a dinner party that night we couldn’t miss. As soon as we pulled onto the highway, though, something was wrong. There was no sound coming from the car at all. Nothing from the radio, navigation, or Bluetooth connection, even though the speaker icon was very much not muted. Not even the turn signals made any noise. Well, we had to be on the move and didn’t have time to troubleshoot, so we pressed on in silence until arriving at the charging station, where we downloaded a fresh software update and then the sound came back. No real explanation why.
Another issue arose when the front trunk—motorized and controlled via a touch button—refused to shut fully. I must have opened and closed the frunk a dozen different times but the “frunk open” notification never went away, though the frunk looked quite closed to me. With daylight fading and me needing to get the photography for this story done, I drove the car the four miles out to my shooting area. On the way there, the car went into limited-capability mode (“turtle mode”) and wouldn’t travel faster than 35 mph. That’s fine, that’s a good safety feature.
However, once I returned home and cleared the “frunk open” notification by manually pressing down on the lip of the opening and clicking both latches into place, the turtle mode didn’t go away automatically, even though the car itself finally registered the frunk as closed. This was worrying, because I still had to drive the car back down to New York City at the end of the week, and I couldn’t do it at 35 mph. Frustrated, I left it in the driveway, plugged in for the evening, hoping the error would clear on its own overnight.
No dice the next day. It was only when the very kind and helpful Lucid PR team, responding to my pleas for aid, said that I had to let the car power down fully in order to clear the turtle mode. The car doesn’t power down fully when it’s plugged in, so I went out and unplugged it for 30 minutes before checking again. No more turtle mode.
Still, I did more troubleshooting during the course of this loan than I have had to do with any other car I’ve driven for my job.
The last thing I’ll add is despite the app warning you to park the car in a secure location while it undergoes a software update and that its doors won’t lock or unlock during that time, I do not think you should ever be allowed to lock yourself out of your car, accidents notwithstanding. After taking photos and still feeling frustrated about the stuck frunk, I thought perhaps the issue could be remedied with another software update. In problem-solving mode and without thinking, I confirmed a new software update and immediately found myself locked out of the car for 20 minutes. It was 28 degrees Fahrenheit but I was dressed warmly, but what if I wasn’t? What if I accidentally hit the software update button? The physical keyfob in my pocket didn’t unlock anything, either, so I wound up standing on the side of the road while the car did its business. This, I feel, can open an owner or driver up to potentially risky situations.
Lucid Air Features, Options, and Competition
The Lucid Air Pure base model starts at $89,050 and comes with rear-wheel drive; its range is rated at 410 miles of range. However, you get the same sleek exterior design and spacious cabin. The Air Grand Touring starts at $139,650 and comes with the big Glass Canopy windshield/roof, the 34-inch screen, the driver-assist system, a 21-speaker sound system, heated and ventilated massage front seats, soft-close doors, powered front and rear trunk openings, and 21-inch wheels. The test car was priced at $153,650 but because Lucid did not provide a window sticker, I am unable to tell you what further options it was equipped with.
Simply put, there’s nothing anyone currently makes that can touch the Air Grand Touring’s projected 516 miles of range. Add in its super-fast 900-volt charging capabilities, and these two are likely its main selling points. Beyond that, it and the Model S Plaid are among the two most powerful electric sedans, though I suspect outright speed will be less and less of a selling point as these EVs advance. That being said, I think the Air falls behind the Mercedes EQS in terms of interior materials and ride quality, and behind the Porsche Taycan in terms of sportiness.
If it were up to me, I’d spec my Air the way it is now. I don’t need the extra power that comes with the Grand Touring Performance. I love the big range way more. And those were some nice massage seats. My back is still thinking about them.
Among the competition, the Air handily beats them all in terms of range. Duh. Many of its drive components are made in-house, and they’re widely known to be very small, light, and power-dense despite being able to deliver such massive performance figures.
More than that, though, Lucid says its sustainability mission extends to cabin materials as well. It sources materials from “responsible suppliers” and uses sustainably harvested woods, alpaca wool blends, and recycled yarn. The seat leathers come from a Scottish supplier called Bridge of Weir, which Lucid claims it selected because it can apparently “claim the lowest carbon footprint of any leather-maker in the world.”
Value and Verdict
If you want the Lucid Air with the big range, it’ll cost ya. There’s no doubt its power-dense and highly efficient components are cool, but they’re still priced as premium luxury products. I finally got to experience what a 500-mile EV does to my brain, and it’s that I was put at ease. I just didn’t worry about making that long-distance trip as much, cold weather temperatures or not.
But, man, those software issues really give me pause. I tried to separate out as much user error as I could in my retelling, but we’re still left with a vexing picture. The Air’s software problems are well-documented across the industry, so I kind of expected something to happen while going into this loan. While the car muting itself was weird but ultimately pretty harmless, I was more concerned by the turtle mode that didn’t automatically clear after I got the frunk closed. I only figured out how to resolve it after working closely with the Lucid team, but I worry about other glitches that await owners.
Being an EV pioneer was definitely a thing a few years ago. But as more and more models make it to the mainstream market from older and more established OEMs, I’d bet there are fewer and fewer people who are willing to put up with a startup’s growing pains. Especially when the pricey car itself doesn’t ride nearly as well or has nearly as nice an interior as its German competitors. Do not get me wrong: The Air Grand Touring impressed me mightily with its range and road manners. It’s just up to you to decide if all the other troubles are worth it.
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