2023 Lucid Air Touring costs less, but refuses to skimp

2023 Lucid Air Touring costs less, but refuses to skimp

May 25, 2023 Off




Here’s a paradox: Electric cars are throwing down 0-60 mph acceleration times that would’ve boggled your mind a decade ago, yet at the same time, EVs are making this ubiquitous performance metric less and less relevant. Thanks to the thrill of instant torque from electric motors, almost every EV feels quick when you stomp on it. Three seconds? Four seconds? Who cares; it’s still fun, isn’t it?

Which brings me to the 2023 Lucid Air Touring. At $109,050, including a $1,650 destination charge, it’s the new entry point into the Air lineup, undercutting the $139,650 Grand Touring and $180,650 Grand Touring Performance. With 620 hp, 885 lb-ft of torque, and a 0-60-mph time of 3.4 seconds, the Air Touring is less powerful and therefore slower than its more expensive counterparts. But does that really affect things in the real world? Not one bit. It’s still much faster than the majority of cars on the market.

The major mechanical difference that separates the Touring from other Airs is its battery. Rather than using the 112- or 118-kwh lithium-ion packs found in the Grand Touring and Grand Touring Performance, respectively, the Touring has a 92-kwh battery that it’ll share with the upcoming (and even cheaper) Air Pure.

2023 Lucid Air Touring

2023 Lucid Air Touring

Like the more powerful variants, the Air Touring has a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive powertrain, though it’s tuned to make less power than the Grand Touring, which spins up 819 hp and 885 lb-ft, and the Grand Touring Performance with its 1,050 hp and 921 lb-ft. Also like those cars, you can spec this trim with either 19- or 20-inch wheels.

Thanks to its 700-volt vehicle architecture, the Air Touring can accept DC fast charging speeds of up to 250 kw, assuming you can find one of the rare 350-kw public chargers, and also assuming the thing, you know, works. Lucid estimates the Air Touring has a range of 425 miles with the 19-inch wheels, or 384 miles with the 20s. No, that’s nowhere near Lucid’s headlining range of 516 miles for the Air Grand Touring, but 425 miles still beats anything offered by any other carmaker.

All Lucid models only deliver their maximum thrust in hold-onto-your-butt Sprint mode. When driving in the Smooth and Swift settings, the Air Touring sends 347 hp to the wheels, and the GT only pumps out 468 hp. Even the GTP is limited to 754 hp in these modes.

The Touring’s 3.4-second 0-60 time is 0.4 second slower than the GT’s and a further 0.4 second off the GTP’s 2.6-second time. But again, the immediate torque delivery makes for 3.4 super exciting seconds. Besides, when you’re darting through traffic or passing slowpokes on the freeway, the Touring never feels underpowered. A wallop of oomph is a toe tap of the throttle away. Unless you routinely floor the Air from stoplight to stoplight—and please don’t be that person—the differences in acceleration between the Air trims isn’t something you’re likely to notice. Well, maybe if you own more than one…and drive them back to back…which you don’t and won’t.

2023 Lucid Air Touring

2023 Lucid Air Touring

All of Lucid’s models have the same great chassis setup, with adaptive dampers front and rear, and excellent electrically assisted power steering with a fixed 13.0:1 ratio. The suspension and steering tunes differ slightly between the drive modes, but at its core this car is set up beautifully. I originally chuckled to myself when Lucid’s executives put up images of the E39 BMW M5 and 991-generation Porsche 911 GT3 as benchmarks for the Air’s handling. However, while I won’t say the 4,987-pound Air replicates the experiences of those sweethearts. I’ll just say that, man, the folks at Lucid really know what they’re doing.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Air Touring rides like a bona fide full-size luxury sedan. Over great distances on smooth California freeways, the Air is an absolute peach, with Smooth mode providing the same sort of bank vault serenity that’s a hallmark of teutonic full-size luxury sedans such as the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. 

The Air’s ability to strike such a rewarding balance between smooth serenity and well-balanced cornering composure is arguably its best on-road attribute. Touring, Grand Touring, or Grand Touring Performance, this is a quality you’ll enjoy in every Air.

2023 Lucid Air Touring

2023 Lucid Air Touring

Likewise, the Touring’s interior doesn’t skimp on the plush creature comforts or stunning design of Lucid’s more expensive trims. I dig the strong mid-century modern vibe inside the Air. As an added bonus, because the Touring has a smaller battery pack than the GT and GTP, the rear seats are positioned lower in the car’s body, making them easier to get in and out of, and giving backseat riders more headroom, too.

2023 Lucid Air Touring

2023 Lucid Air Touring

2023 Lucid Air Touring

2023 Lucid Air Touring

2023 Lucid Air Touring

2023 Lucid Air Touring

2023 Lucid Air Touring

2023 Lucid Air Touring

Lucid’s been fine-tuning its in-car tech game ever since the Air launched in 2021, and while the Touring uses the best iteration of this software yet, it still has its quirks. The central iPad-like display that houses the majority of vehicle, climate, and infotainment controls is colorful and responsive, but the menu structure is a little overwhelming at first blush—especially if you want to adjust any of the standard driver-assistance technologies like adaptive cruise control or active lane control. It’s also incredibly annoying that the mirror adjustments and steering wheel tilt and telescope controls are housed in the tablet.

On the dashboard, one single curved housing incorporates three screens. The leftmost display has headlight and wiper controls, the middle one is your typical gauge cluster and the right screen shows multimedia info. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto—smartphone mirroring technologies that are standard on just about every car at this point—are still MIA from the Lucid experience, which is a bummer.

Even so, the 2023 Lucid Air Touring’s pros vastly outweigh its cons, and it’s all wrapped up in a package that’s really stinkin’ pretty; this is one of the best-looking full-size sedans on sale today. The Touring keeps all of the GT and GTP’s rhythms intact, and the performance compromises it asks you to make are, at best, a loss of bragging rights. Drive one and you’ll see: A Touring is all the Air you’ll ever need.

—Steven Ewing

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