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.
Here's why I'd pick the Lucid over the Mercedes.
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.
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.
The EQS very much fits in with that tradition, serving up a tantalizing mix of old-school luxury and flashy new tech.
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 base model, which costs $104,400, comes with less power and rear-wheel drive.
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.
Inside is where it really shines, though.
Close yourself inside and you find yourself in a luxurious cocoon fit for a billionaire butterfly.
There's rich leather and soft suede as far as the eye can see.
From the wood on the center console to the way everything fits together, the whole cabin oozes craftsmanship.
In my test car, all seats but the rear middle offered heating, cooling, and several massage functions.
The back seats offered a tablet-based command center in the armrest.
It also came with the optional Hyperscreen, a dazzling lineup of three screens all housed under a single glass panel.
There was a customizable driver cluster, a massive central display, and a touchscreen for the front passenger too.
Additionally, a head-up display projected some information onto the windshield.
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.
In motion, the EQS 580 effortlessly soaks up bumps thanks to its air suspension.
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 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 Air, the first model out of the California startup Lucid Motors, isn't like most luxury sedans.
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.
A more direct Mercedes rival to that particular model would be the sportier Mercedes-AMG EQS, which I haven't tested yet.
An entry-level Air Pure costs $82,400.
The Air is a triumph, delivering mind-blowing performance and cutting-edge technology — all in a comfy, futuristic package.
Its dramatic proportions and spaceship-like features give it a presence all its own.
Inside, the Air marries familiar luxury with clean, modern design.
I particularly enjoyed the two-tone, leather interior of my test car. It was dark gray in front and tan in back.
An expansive windshield that sweeps over the front seats is another trademark Lucid feature.
Just like the Benz, the Air offered seat heating, ventilation, and massage functions. But the Lucid will also massage your butt.
The screen setup feels fresh, too, largely thanks to a slim, crescent-shaped display suspended over the dashboard.
It's divided into three sections. A permanent cluster of buttons on the left offers access to functions like the headlights and door locks.
The middle part shows your speed, range, and other basics, while the rightmost sliver houses the navigation, media settings, and more.
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.
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.
Under the hood, Lucid provides an enormous cargo area. That's something the Mercedes doesn't have.
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.
The GTP's dual motors crank out a whopping 1,050 horsepower — more than two EQS 580s for anybody counting.
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.
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.
Stopping to charge an EV can be a time-consuming drag, but not in the Air.
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.
In the Air, I was able to add 100 miles of range in just six minutes, which should make road trips a breeze.
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.
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