The Lucid Air electric luxury sedan was impressive when it launched 18 months ago, and the new Air Pure version for 2023 is a further variation on the same theme. The Pure is the cheapest Lucid today, at a base price of $89,050, including shipping. All other versions of the Air start north of six figures, so this represents the entry level.
One of the Air’s selling points is its range of high EPA ratings, with the more expensive Air Grand Touring AWD rated at 516 miles on 19-inch tires—the highest EPA range rating of any EV on the market today. We’re curious how the Air will fare with a smaller battery and lower specs.
Smaller Battery, Still Faster
Buyers of the entry-level Pure can choose between rear- or all-wheel drive and 19- or 20-inch wheels. The all-wheel drive version has a pair of motors good for 480 horsepower and 686 pound-feet of torque. Equipped with 20-inch Aero Lite wheels, our all-wheel-drive Air Pure carries an EPA-estimated 384 miles of range from its 92.0-kWh battery pack.
In our 75-mph real-world highway range test, the Air Pure delivered 310 miles on an observed efficiency of 100 MPGe, compared to an EPA rating of 121 MPGe. The Air Grand Touring managed 410 miles in the same test.
The dual-motor Air Pure can’t match the acceleration of other Air models, but it just goes from surprisingly fast to surprisingly fast. We measured 3.5 seconds to 60 mph, compared to 3.0 seconds for the Touring model and just 2.6 seconds for the 1111-hp Performance Dream Edition. For a four-seat sedan with a curb weight of better than 3 tons, any of those results are remarkable; Pure Air buyers should be satisfied with the performance of their cars.
Compared to the Touring trim which is the next step up in the Lucid Air range, the Pure sacrifices the option of a glass roof, power open and close for the front trunk, cooled front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and heated front wipers. Its power front seats plunge from 14 to 12 adjustments, and one zone is subtracted from its automatic climate control, down from four to three.
All this does not give a great sacrifice. Indeed, the only thing we miss is the glass roof found on previous Air models we’ve tested. The solid roof makes the low cabin darker, and it feels subjectively closer and more confined—especially to larger occupants. Regardless of size, however, every front-seat rider must learn to turn and lean back into their seat to avoid hitting their head on the heavily scratched windshield pillar.
Composed and relax
Any Lucid Air we’ve driven remains a joy to drive: balanced and composed with a sharp, sporty response combined with great chassis tuning and damping that eliminates any extra sway. That makes this 4951-pound car incredibly easy to toss through corners if you want to, while remaining calm behind the wheel if you don’t push it.
Adding to the luxurious feel is the serene exterior and interior composed of exceptional fabrics that contribute to a sense of soothing calm. SVP of expressive design Derek Jenkins has described the Air as “not a car that screams”—”shouts” being a British term meaning to call attention to itself. The air is quiet outside, although its low height, smooth lines and ultra-thin lights keep one’s attention when it starts to be noticed.
Inside, our Air Pure has a Mojave PurLuxe interior. The most striking feature is the gray tweed fabric used on the dash and elsewhere. It’s an unusual, subtle choice, and it really works. Once inside, the feet-released driving position up front feels sporty, but rear-seat passengers enjoy floor-to-ceiling footprints that match the recesses in the underfloor battery pack. The floor recession means rear-seat riders don’t sit upright, as they do in the higher-spec Air model with the highest-capacity battery, making the ride far more comfortable here.
Looking for one pedal mode
Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson was the chief engineer on the Tesla Model S a decade ago. The cockpit incorporates a Tesla echo in its large central screen with only a few hard controls for selected functions (audio volume, ventilation). A smaller secondary screen for cabin controls can be retracted into the dash for a cleaner look.
The temptation for modern EV designers is to put as many controls as possible into the screen, reducing the number of mechanical switches, knobs, dials and sliders that need to be engineered. Some of our editors prefer the one-pedal driving mode, while others hate it—so every time we switch test drivers, we have to find a one-pedal mode that embeds several screens in the driver’s settings.
The car we tested, the 2023 Lucid Air Pure AWD, carries a base price of $94,550, which is $5500 more than the rear-drive car because of the additional front-mounted motor and semi-active dampers. Our car had the $2000 20-inch wheel upgrade, which muffled the range from 410 to 384 miles. Three optional extras are DreamDrive Pro active driving assistance and a surround view camera ($10,000), Surreal Sound Pro audio system ($4000), and Fathom Blue Metallic gray-blue paint ($1000). All told, the bottom sticker price is $111,550—over the $100K threshold.
As such, Lucid Air Pure remains firmly at the upper end of the luxury spectrum and expands the company’s product offering only slightly. At a time when the entire market seems to want an SUV, the company’s need is to get a second model, the Gravity electric SUV, into production as soon as possible. With Air sales lower than projected a few years ago, Lucid is now going back to the well to raise more capital: $3 billion, most of it from the Saudi Public Investment Fund. Somewhat ironically, the oil-funded investment powerhouse now controls a majority of Lucid’s stock.
Starting a long-term car company is a very difficult thing. So far, only Tesla seems to have pulled it off in recent decades. Whatever Lucid’s ultimate fate, the Lucid Air is an incredible electric car: stylish, comfortable, luxurious and fast. Even in Pure form.
2023 Lucid Air Pure AWD
Vehicle Type: front and rear motor, all-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
Base/As Tested: $94,550/$111,550
Options: DreamDrive Pro driving assistant, $10,000; Surreal Sound Pro audio system, $4000; 20-inch Aero Lite Wheels, $2000, Fathom Blue Metallic Paint, $1000
Front Motor: permanent magnet synchronous AC
Rear Motor: permanent magnet synchronous AC
Combined Power: 480 hp
Combined Torque: 686 lb-ft
Battery Pack: liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 92.0 kWh
Onboard Charger: 19.2 kW
Peak DC Fast Charge Rate: 250 kW
Transmission, F/R: direct drive
Suspension, F/R: multi-link/multi-link
Brakes, F/R: 15.0-in vented disc/14.8-in vented disc
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport EV
F: 245/40ZR-20 99Y Acoustic LM1 Extra Load
R: 265/40ZR-20 104Y Acoustic LM1 Extra Load
Wheelbase: 116.5 inches
Length: 195.9 inches
Width: 76.2 inches
Height: 55.4 inches
Passenger Volume, F/R: 61/45 ft3
Trunk Volume, F/R: 10/22 ft3
Curb Weight: 4951 lb
C/D TEST RESULT
60 mph: 3.5 seconds
100 mph: 8.0 seconds
1/4-Mile: 11.7 seconds @ 122 mph
130 mph: 13.5 seconds
The above results leave a 1 foot launch for 0.2 seconds.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 3.7 seconds
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 1.7 seconds
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 2.4 seconds
Top Speed (gov ltd): 140 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 168 feet
Braking, 100–0 mph: 324 feet
Road grip, 300 ft Skid Pad: 0.90 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY AND CHASSIS
Observed: 100 MPGe
75-mph Highway Drive: 101 MPGe
75-mph Highway Range: 310 mi
Average DC Fast Charge Rate, 10–90%: 104 kW
DC Quick Charge Time, 10–90%: 50 min
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 121/121/120 MPGe
Range: 384 mi
C/D TESTS EXPLAINED
John Voelcker edited Green Car Report for nine years, published more than 12,000 articles on hybrids, electric cars, and other low- and zero-emission vehicles and the energy ecosystem around them. He currently covers advanced auto technology and energy policy as a reporter and analyst. His work has appeared in print, online and radio media including Wired, Popular Science, Technology Review, IEEE Spectrum, and NPR’s “All Things Considered.” He splits his time between the Catskill Mountains and New York City and still has hopes of one day becoming an international man of mystery.