The Lucid Air Touring test: How a luxury EV handles in snow
This is part three of four in our series of reviews of Lucid Air Touring, the new mid-size luxury EV from Lucid Motors. Follow the coverage here.
If there was one point in my journey that worried the Lucid Motors team, it was Donner Pass. The steepest and snowiest area on California’s Interstate 80 — actually one of the snowiest spots in the lower 48, averaging 411 inches of snow annually — Donner commands respect from all who traverse it.
It’s not just the chilling memory of the Donner Party(Opens in a new tab), that notorious group of western settlers who got stranded here in 1846, losing half their crew and resorting to cannibalism. During these winters, you’re more likely to get stuck in a line that stretches for hours while you wait for the California Highway Patrol to check if you need snow chains on your tires.
The Lucid Air is four-wheel drive and therefore exempt from that requirement, although I wasn’t looking forward to convincing CHP that this unusual, low-handling luxury sedan was more robust than it might seem.
Not for the faint of heart: Donner Pass in 1878, when the Transcontinental Railroad had to build “snow scales”.
Credit: Smith/Gado Collection
The Lucid team, meanwhile, suggested that maybe I should swap out the regular tires for something grippier – which I could theoretically do over the company’s mobile service van program, Lucid Care(Opens in a new tab).
As it turned out, Donner Pass was bright and clear, albeit well below freezing, when I traversed it. CHP was nowhere to be found. There was still plenty of snow and ice on the road and deep drifts all around, but the regular tires never felt less than incredibly stable.
The Lucid Air held the road in a bear hug at every turn possible. Only once did it slip for a few seconds. (think of children, never break during a spin(Opens in a new tab).)
Driving up and down twisting roads into Truckee and Lake Tahoe, the greatest hazard had nothing to do with the car’s handling or holding its load in the freezing cold. I was now used to the recuperation and had a lot of fun seeing if I could keep the car’s charge level just over 50 percent over the descents.
The Lucid Air Touring test: 10 days in the latest luxury EV
No, the biggest hazard to this driver was the Lucid Air’s huge windshield, which wraps around and around and makes you feel like you’re in a Jetsons bubble car.
There’s not usually much to see up there, but here I was walking through a forest of tall pines dusted with what looked like cake icing against a sky blue sky. Who wouldn’t be distracted from the road by this glorious sight?
I was reminded that the Touring’s standard option(Opens in a new tab) gives it a regular aluminum roof (the glass roof costs an extra $4,500). Not only would that be less disruptive, but given how cold the glass bubble feels to the touch, it would likely require far less energy to heat.
Speaking of warmth, the Lucid’s sectional heated seats and heated steering wheel (both accessible via the center tablet) were a cozy treat.
They put as many smiles on my face as the hot, sweet rum drink I drank on the Tahoe coast and helped banish the bad memory of my older electric car systems failing in this winter wonderland.
The flashy Lucid Air exterior—and the edgy, buggy Lucid Air interior
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The trip to Tahoe had another benefit when I got back to Nevada City: A layer of snow dirt gave the car some camouflage. It was a little annoying how many passers-by stop and stare as the Lucid rolls by, especially with the Intelligent Micro Lens Array LED strip on the front – no mere headlights for the Lucid Air! – is on.
The “Quantum Gray” color model I tested looks pretty incognito, at least when parked; I’ve received more comments on his Florida license plate than what catches the eye of Californians than the design itself.
My fears that the car might be a target for thieves might have been unfounded, but that didn’t stop the car itself from sounding like it had a bad case of anxiety. For starters, the Lucid Air will beep you as soon as you sit in the driver’s seat because you haven’t fastened your seat belt yet: I’ve got into the habit of replying, “OK, Mom, I’ll do it!”
The Lucid Air Touring Test: How I Beat the Electric Vehicle’s 425-Mile Range
The house I stayed in had a fairly steep driveway, which the Lucid’s low-mounted cameras detected as a road obstruction as it descended. I also encountered a bug that other riders describe frequently: the Lucid Air also occasionally sees lane dividers as an obstacle.
Oh no, it’s Lucid Air’s blue death screen!
Credit: Chris Taylor / Mashable
Speaking of software bugs, that was the day I encountered the Lucid Air at its worst. Normally, when reversing, the rear view is shown on the dashboard screen and the middle tablet fills with the “surround view” – a clever computer construction that shows how the car looks from above and allows you to zoom around in 3D.
Now both screens were blank with a spinning wheel – the lucid equivalent of the blue screen of death.
It’s hardly the worst mistake in the world; I could at least look over my shoulder. I didn’t experience it again after an over-the-air software update downloaded that evening.
Still, the occasional feeling that you’re driving a $109,000 beta product isn’t exactly encouraging.
The aerodynamic clear bladder and mediocre mapping
Lucid Air Error: The navigation system wanted to take me to a closed road that is clearly marked as “private”.
Credit: Chris Taylor / Mashable
Back in the Bay Area, the worst of the winter storms were over, but the wind was still crazy. I didn’t realize this until I waited at an intersection and saw trees flex and leaves scurry horizontally across my field of vision.
I’m used to cars that rock at least a little in strong winds, so it was a bit annoying that the Lucid Air didn’t move at all. Its highly aerodynamic design not only allows air to flow front-to-back to give you a smoother ride, it also works side-to-side.
The feeling of being in a bubble, untouched by the outside world, was complete.
Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t always live up to Lucid Air’s inferior navigation system. The company uses Here Maps instead of Google Maps(Opens in a new tab) data, a fact that infuriates drivers on Lucid forums(Opens in a new tab).
It’s not just because the traffic data loads so slowly that you usually commit to a route before knowing all the options. As a matter of fact, Here maps often seem shockingly outdated and confused about road access.
I counted three times when the Lucid tried to send me the wrong way down a one-way street, and once – en route to a trailhead outside of Berkeley – where it tried to reroute me down a series of private roads, one of which was chained.
The privilege of the car has been turned headfirst into reality. Lucid Motors hasn’t said when CarPlay or Android Auto will join the lineup. But with the urgent need for Google Maps and more nuanced driving directions, it can’t be soon enough.
Part 4, covering overall impressions, will be released on Saturday February 18th. Follow the coverage here.
https://mashable.com/article/lucid-air-touring-test-interior-exterior The Lucid Air Touring test: How a luxury EV handles in snow