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  4. I drove fancy, six-figure electric cars from Mercedes and Lucid. Here's why I'd go with the startup over the old guard.

I drove fancy, six-figure electric cars from Mercedes and Lucid. Here's why I'd go with the startup over the old guard.

Tim Levin   

I drove fancy, six-figure electric cars from Mercedes and Lucid. Here's why I'd go with the startup over the old guard.
We pitted the Mercedes EQS against the Lucid Air in the ultimate battle of old versus new.Tim Levin/Insider
  • I drove the Mercedes-Benz EQS and Lucid Motors Air, two high-tech, high-performance electric sedans.
  • Both Tesla rivals cost well over $100,000 and are super comfy and luxurious.

The rise of electric vehicles means consumers now have old-school automakers and flashy new startups all competing for their hard-earned dollars.

On one end of the spectrum, you have players like Mercedes-Benz, a century-old company trying to preserve its reputation while embracing new technology. On the other, you have Lucid Motors, a high-tech newcomer from Silicon Valley looking to generate some clout of its own and compete with the big dogs.

I drove the two companies' large luxury sedans — the Mercedes-Benz EQS and Lucid Air — and came away impressed by their technology, comfort, and performance. But the Air has the edge in my book.

Let's begin with the incumbent: the EQS.

Let
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

It's the battery-powered cousin of Mercedes-Benz's S-Class, the big and cushy four-door that's been a perennial favorite among important people of all stripes.

It
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

The EQS very much fits in with that tradition, serving up a tantalizing mix of old-school luxury and flashy new tech.

The EQS very much fits in with that tradition, serving up a tantalizing mix of old-school luxury and flashy new tech.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

Mercedes lent me an all-wheel-drive 2022 EQS 580 4MATIC Pinnacle, which was loaded up with optional goodies and came out to $141,400.

Mercedes lent me an all-wheel-drive 2022 EQS 580 4MATIC Pinnacle, which was loaded up with optional goodies and came out to $141,400.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

The base model, which costs $104,400, comes with less power and rear-wheel drive.

The base model, which costs $104,400, comes with less power and rear-wheel drive.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

I think the gas variant packs more style, but the blob-like EQS isn't totally lacking elegance either. I would say I'm neutral on it.

I think the gas variant packs more style, but the blob-like EQS isn
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

Inside is where it really shines, though.

Inside is where it really shines, though.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

Close yourself inside and you find yourself in a luxurious cocoon fit for a billionaire butterfly.

Close yourself inside and you find yourself in a luxurious cocoon fit for a billionaire butterfly.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

There's rich leather and soft suede as far as the eye can see.

There
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

From the wood on the center console to the way everything fits together, the whole cabin oozes craftsmanship.

From the wood on the center console to the way everything fits together, the whole cabin oozes craftsmanship.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

In my test car, all seats but the rear middle offered heating, cooling, and several massage functions.

In my test car, all seats but the rear middle offered heating, cooling, and several massage functions.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

The back seats offered a tablet-based command center in the armrest.

The back seats offered a tablet-based command center in the armrest.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

It also came with the optional Hyperscreen, a dazzling lineup of three screens all housed under a single glass panel.

It also came with the optional Hyperscreen, a dazzling lineup of three screens all housed under a single glass panel.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

There was a customizable driver cluster, a massive central display, and a touchscreen for the front passenger too.

There was a customizable driver cluster, a massive central display, and a touchscreen for the front passenger too.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

Additionally, a head-up display projected some information onto the windshield.

Additionally, a head-up display projected some information onto the windshield.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

It's all a bit of technology overload and is probably overkill, but to Mercedes' credit, all the displays were snappy and easy to navigate.

It
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

In motion, the EQS 580 effortlessly soaks up bumps thanks to its air suspension.

In motion, the EQS 580 effortlessly soaks up bumps thanks to its air suspension.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

The EPA estimates its range to be 340-350 miles, depending on which model you choose. That places it among the rangiest EVs on the US market.

The EPA estimates its range to be 340-350 miles, depending on which model you choose. That places it among the rangiest EVs on the US market.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

The EQS 580 will also blow the doors off of most other luxury sedans thanks to the 516 horsepower and 632 pound-feet of torque available under your right foot. Sixty arrives in around four seconds, according to Mercedes.

The EQS 580 will also blow the doors off of most other luxury sedans thanks to the 516 horsepower and 632 pound-feet of torque available under your right foot. Sixty arrives in around four seconds, according to Mercedes.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.      Tim Levin/Insider

The Air, the first model out of the California startup Lucid Motors, isn't like most luxury sedans.

The Air, the first model out of the California startup Lucid Motors, isn
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

Lucid lent me one of its higher-end cars, the Air Grand Touring Performance (GTP). It cost $180,000 when I tested it, but after a price cut will now run you more like $160,000.

Lucid lent me one of its higher-end cars, the Air Grand Touring Performance (GTP). It cost $180,000 when I tested it, but after a price cut will now run you more like $160,000.
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

A more direct Mercedes rival to that particular model would be the sportier Mercedes-AMG EQS, which I haven't tested yet.

A more direct Mercedes rival to that particular model would be the sportier Mercedes-AMG EQS, which I haven
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

An entry-level Air Pure costs $82,400.

An entry-level Air Pure costs $82,400.
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

The Air is a triumph, delivering mind-blowing performance and cutting-edge technology — all in a comfy, futuristic package.

The Air is a triumph, delivering mind-blowing performance and cutting-edge technology — all in a comfy, futuristic package.
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

Its dramatic proportions and spaceship-like features give it a presence all its own.

Its dramatic proportions and spaceship-like features give it a presence all its own.
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

Inside, the Air marries familiar luxury with clean, modern design.

Inside, the Air marries familiar luxury with clean, modern design.
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

I particularly enjoyed the two-tone, leather interior of my test car. It was dark gray in front and tan in back.

I particularly enjoyed the two-tone, leather interior of my test car. It was dark gray in front and tan in back.
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

An expansive windshield that sweeps over the front seats is another trademark Lucid feature.

An expansive windshield that sweeps over the front seats is another trademark Lucid feature.
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

Just like the Benz, the Air offered seat heating, ventilation, and massage functions. But the Lucid will also massage your butt.

Just like the Benz, the Air offered seat heating, ventilation, and massage functions. But the Lucid will also massage your butt.
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

The screen setup feels fresh, too, largely thanks to a slim, crescent-shaped display suspended over the dashboard.

The screen setup feels fresh, too, largely thanks to a slim, crescent-shaped display suspended over the dashboard.
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

It's divided into three sections. A permanent cluster of buttons on the left offers access to functions like the headlights and door locks.

It
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

The middle part shows your speed, range, and other basics, while the rightmost sliver houses the navigation, media settings, and more.

The middle part shows your speed, range, and other basics, while the rightmost sliver houses the navigation, media settings, and more.
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

The screen you'll end up interacting with most is situated down low. This tablet is where drivers can fiddle with the seats, climate control, and drive modes.

The screen you
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

I didn't love having to use the touchscreen for every little setting — including everything down to the glove box — but the Air's interface was easy on the eyes and just as responsive as a smartphone.

I didn
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

Under the hood, Lucid provides an enormous cargo area. That's something the Mercedes doesn't have.

Under the hood, Lucid provides an enormous cargo area. That
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

That complements the regular trunk. I could see the short opening posing challenges for large suitcases, but I couldn't get enough of that huge clamshell opening.

That complements the regular trunk. I could see the short opening posing challenges for large suitcases, but I couldn
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

The GTP's dual motors crank out a whopping 1,050 horsepower — more than two EQS 580s for anybody counting.

The GTP
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

Get out onto an open stretch of road, floor it, and the GTP will scorch from a standstill to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds, which basically feels like tearing a hole in space-time.

Get out onto an open stretch of road, floor it, and the GTP will scorch from a standstill to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds, which basically feels like tearing a hole in space-time.
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

Range is top-notch, estimated by the EPA at 446 miles. The GTP is only beat out by the regular Grand Touring, which is said to travel 516 miles on a full battery.

Range is top-notch, estimated by the EPA at 446 miles. The GTP is only beat out by the regular Grand Touring, which is said to travel 516 miles on a full battery.
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

Stopping to charge an EV can be a time-consuming drag, but not in the Air.

Stopping to charge an EV can be a time-consuming drag, but not in the Air.
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

It's one of the very few vehicles on the market that can charge at a peak rate of 300 kilowatts (provided you find a sufficiently powerful station). The EQS maxes out at a very respectable 200 kW.

It
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

In the Air, I was able to add 100 miles of range in just six minutes, which should make road trips a breeze.

In the Air, I was able to add 100 miles of range in just six minutes, which should make road trips a breeze.
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

Both the EQS and Air are luxurious, capable, and high-tech Tesla rivals. But the Lucid is palpably fresh, novel, and exciting inside and out. In this particular battle, the new kid on the block gets my vote.

Both the EQS and Air are luxurious, capable, and high-tech Tesla rivals. But the Lucid is palpably fresh, novel, and exciting inside and out. In this particular battle, the new kid on the block gets my vote.
The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance.      Tim Levin/Insider

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