Cadillac Escalade-V vs. Lucid Air Grand Touring: $150k Battle For American High-Performance Luxury

Cadillac Escalade-V vs. Lucid Air Grand Touring: $150k Battle For American High-Performance Luxury

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CLINT: At Edmunds, we know a lot about helping people find the right car at the right price. BRIAN: But we also know that people don't shop for that perfect car in neat little boxes. CLINT: Sometimes more than one kind of car can fit a shopper's needs. That's how you end up comparing a sports car with an SUV. BRIAN: And that's what we're doing today. We'll get a question and a price-- CLINT: --and then each of us will have to choose what we think is the perfect vehicle.

BRIAN: And then we'll see who is right and who is Clint. CLINT: Our question for today is, if you had $150,000 to buy a brand-new-- BRIAN: --high-performance-- CLINT: --American-made-- BRIAN: --luxury vehicle, what would you buy? CLINT: What should you buy? The Cadillac Escalade-V. BRIAN: The Lucid Air GT. CLINT: What? BRIAN: What? [MUSIC PLAYING] Why are you smiling? CLINT: Because I won. I won, and we haven't even started playing yet.

150 grand, all-American, high-performance, luxury-- there's exactly one correct option. And it is this, the Cadillac Escalade-V, louder than 500 American bald eagles screaming-- BRIAN: I don't know if-- CLINT: --at once and dripping with swag. So here you go.

Prepare to get buried. BRIAN: You know, I thought that you were different than this, Clint. I thought that you were much like me, someone who would look to the future and see that the future of both high-performance and luxury is not going to be powered by a V8.

It's not even going to be powered by gasoline at all. The future is electric. And that is why I have brought our long-term Lucid Air Grand Touring, a vehicle that is fast, that is luxurious, that has a big price tag and big speed and power to match.

CLINT: Question that feels relevant. BRIAN: Answer. CLINT: Didn't you once have a very, very bad day in this car? BRIAN: This car may have locked me out once. But sometimes the road of progress is not smooth.

There are potholes. And we forgive those foibles for a clearer vision of the future, one that is silent and powered by electrons. CLINT: Follow-up question. BRIAN: Yes.

CLINT: Why are you dressed like that? BRIAN: Because I am channeling the energy of a technological visionary with a future-thinking, minimalist aesthetic. CLINT: That is not what you look like. BRIAN: What do you mean? I'll take that as a compliment. To determine our winner, we're going to put these vehicles through a series of somewhat awkward but fun challenges. Then at the end, we'll get together and see which vehicle each of us would rather drive away in.

But before we do that, if you've been enjoying our videos, please help us out by hitting those like and subscribe buttons. And if you have any fun or wacky ideas for future pairings, we'd love to hear them in the comments below. Back to the action. CLINT: So the reason we chose these two vehicles is because they are the ultimate expression in high-performance luxury, which means they got to be quick, but they got to be comfy while doing it. BRIAN: That's why we're here at the Edmunds test track, and that's why Clint and I are sitting in the back seat to get driven around by one of the members of our testing team.

KURT NIEHBUR: Buckle up, losers. BRIAN: Is this a bad time to tell you that I get carsick? [YELLS] CLINT: No! BRIAN: No! CLINT: [LAUGHS] BRIAN: No. No. Probably our favorite thing about the Lucid is its performance.

This is a sedan that weighs just over 5,000 pounds, and it still scoots from 0 to 60 miles an hour in just 3.2 seconds. And that's because it has 819 horsepower coming out of a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive system. It does the quarter mile in under 11 seconds at 131.8 miles an hour. Oh, this car is fast. Oh, it's fast.

CLINT: But it's-- BRIAN: Oh my god. CLINT: --probably a good time to mention that this car's Achilles heel is that it doesn't quite have the tires. BRIAN: It wears the wrong shoes to go dancing, but oh my goodness, it's so fast.

That's why it only does, what, 0.82 g, on our skidpad? CLINT: Ooh. BRIAN: But-- oh, Jesus. CLINT: Here's the deal.

High-performance luxury, which means we have to talk about luxury for a quick second here-- BRIAN: I don't want to talk. I don't want to talk anymore. CLINT: --backseat-wise, I've been in worse places. There's legroom for days. There's air-conditioning vents there and there.

I am thankful for that. One-- BRIAN: Oh, because it's July and it's very hot. And you're reminded that it's very hot because it has this nice glass roof, which you can see a lot out of.

But on a day like this, where it's real sunny, I do feel a bit like a cookie that's been in the oven for too long. CLINT: Normally, a glass roof-- BRIAN: Oh god. CLINT: --is nice, makes the car feel nice and airy. But our heads are right below it. I am frying right now. BRIAN: The other problem is this roof kind of spills down the sides here.

So if Kurt makes a hard turn to the left, my head is going to run right into this-- oh god, why-- right into this pillar right here. Oh no. CLINT: --how are things in the front row? BRIAN: He heard me.

KURT NIEHBUR: Pretty comfortable. I like the fact that it smells like a nice luxury department store in here. CLINT: [LAUGHS] BRIAN: Oh god.

Nordstrom's does not move like this. CLINT: Oh. BRIAN: To be honest, there aren't that many amenities back here. You might expect more for 150 grand.

We have heated rear seats and we got USB ports, but that's about it. Kurt, what do they feed you? So, Kurt, would you say that this car is fun or not fun? KURT NIEHBUR: I'd say it's fun. CLINT: OK. BRIAN: I'm glad one of us is having fun. CLINT: I'm about done with fun. BRIAN: OK, we're done.

KURT NIEHBUR: Good? CLINT: He's going to be in a bad place after this. All right, guys. Hit it, Kurt. BRIAN: I'm not really recovered. CLINT: Oh! BRIAN: I am not recovered from the last time we-- CLINT: OK, so, unlike the regular Escalade-- as you might be able to hear-- this has a supercharged g 6.2 liter V8-- BRIAN: Jesus.

CLINT: --making 682 horsepower. And in our testing, it was good enough for 0 to 60 in 4.8 seconds. It also ran a quarter mile in 13.4 if you're interested in that sort of thing.

BRIAN: That's not very fast. CLINT: But for 6,300 pounds and what is effectively a truck, the Escalade-- BRIAN: Oh god. CLINT: --can boogie. [ENGINE REVVING] [LAUGHS] BRIAN: That noise, that noise is insane. That noise is so cool. You know, you were making fun of the Lucid's tires, but-- CLINT: Oh yeah.

BRIAN: --the Bridgestones that you get on the V, they don't have any more grip than what you're going to get out of a normal tire on a Yukon or a Tahoe. CLINT: Yeah, I was hoping you weren't going to mention that. But straight up, these are the furthest thing from performance tires-- BRIAN: Oh my god, why? CLINT: --which kind of makes this thing the furthest thing from a performance car. But it's not about that. It's about impressing your friends in luxury, speed, and noise. BRIAN: Speaking of being impressed, there's a lot more amenities in the back seat of the Escalade than you're going to get in the Lucid.

You have these nice screens here that, if we weren't getting thrown around like this, I would actually enjoy watching something on. On the back of the seats, you also have four USB ports. And you also have-- same thing, got lots of room back here for passengers. [YELLS] [NERVOUS LAUGHTER] CLINT: How is our race car driver doing up front? KURT NIEHBUR: I've been better. CLINT: [LAUGHS] Is this the easiest thing you've ever driven around this track? KURT NIEHBUR: No, it is not.

CLINT: [LAUGHS] BRIAN: I'm noticing that you're doing a lot of left and right when the turn is only going right. Is the lack of grip worse in this vehicle or in the Lucid? KURT NIEHBUR: Worse in this. And the stability control, even though I shut it off so you could get the full experience-- BRIAN: Yes, you did shut it off.

Why? CLINT: [LAUGHS] KURT NIEHBUR: It's not really all the way off. It's still holding us back a little bit so-- BRIAN: Oh. CLINT: Do you feel that you could get this thing into a full-power slide if you really wanted to? KURT NIEHBUR: If it would let me, yes, absolutely. BRIAN: If you had to pick between these two vehicles, which one would you say was more fun? KURT NIEHBUR: Probably the Lucid. I think the Escalade is more hilarious, but it's not as fun.

BRIAN: That's a fair point. So we have the Escalade with a better back seat, but then we have the Lucid being more fun behind the wheel. Is that a tie? CLINT: Well, no. If you're spending this kind of money on a car that you want to be performance oriented, numbers matter. And straight up, the Lucid absolutely murders this when it comes to basically every performance figure. But I was smiling way bigger in the back seat here, and that counts for something.

BRIAN: And we can't have a tie because this is, after all, an American challenge. And ties, as we know-- CLINT: --are for losers. BRIAN: --are about as un-American as you can get. So, how about on the count of three, we each say which one we think won? CLINT: OK. BRIAN: Ready? All right. 1, 2, 3-- Lucid.

CLINT: Lucid. BRIAN: Lucid! CLINT: How you doing, kid? [ELEVATOR MUSIC] BRIAN: And now it's time to get a little bit nerdy. Now, we here at Edmunds, we love our numbers. That's why we test for our own braking and acceleration, but that's not the only thing that we record. CLINT: That's right. We're so obsessive that we also test for sound.

And for that, we use Albert. Well, we actually use whatever it is he's holding. I don't know what it's called. But this tests sound, right? BRIAN: You know, for a sound guy, he really doesn't say much.

CLINT: Now, some of you might be wondering why we're about to test sound on a V8 in an EV, but it got us thinking. These vehicles are meant to do very different things. BRIAN: The Lucid is meant to be as quiet as possible. CLINT: And the Escalade-V is meant to be as loud as possible. BRIAN: Here at Edmunds, we've tested many, many cars for sound. And we've discovered that the average sound that a car makes on the inside under full acceleration is 75.4 decibels.

CLINT: So for this challenge, it's easy. The winner is whoever can get further away from that average number while flying down our straightaway-- BRIAN: --the Lucid by keeping things quiet-- CLINT: --and the Escalade-V unleashing full V8, American fury. If there is any challenge that the Escalade-V should do well at, it's making noise. BRIAN: All right, Clint, let's hear that very quiet V8.

CLINT: OK, left foot hard on the brake, right foot all the way down on the gas, and boost it. I have to shut up now because the car is going to do all the talking. You ready? [ENGINE REVVING] BRIAN: I'm in trouble. That's very loud. CLINT: Was that impressive? Tell me that was impressive. BRIAN: So, how to set up the Lucid to be as quiet as possible, we turn these fans all the way off.

It's going to get very hot in here but now nice and quiet. We have it in smooth, so it'll still be pretty quick, but we won't get a lot of, like-- too much acceleration noise, hopefully, and yeah. Quiet as a mouse, right, Albert? Just shh.

Don't even breathe. (WHISPERS) Don't breathe. [WALKIE-TALKIE BEEPS] CLINT: All right, Brian, why don't you show everybody how exciting it is to do an accel run in a car that doesn't make noise? [WALKIE-TALKIE BEEPS] BRIAN: OK.

[QUIET ELECTRIC MOTOR HUM] [CAR WHIZZES BY] CLINT: It sounds worse than a vacuum. I didn't even know that was possible. It was quick. It's not fun. BRIAN: [EXHALES] All right, Albert, how'd we do? CLINT: OK, me first, me first. 91 point-- that seems good.

That seems good. BRIAN: And the Lucid, how'd we do? 66.1. CLINT: And that means only one thing. [LAUGHS] Thanks, Albert. [APPLAUSE] BRIAN: I chose poorly.

So right now, we've got a tie ball game. That's one for the Cadillac and one for the Lucid. CLINT: And that brings us to our third and final challenge, where Brian and I are going to drive to work. BRIAN: You know, the word challenge seems a little aggressive. CLINT: Just get in the damn car.

BRIAN: All right, all right, all right, all right. We are calling this challenge a luxurious commute. CLINT: Luxurious commute. BRIAN: We wanted to see how both of these vehicles can handle the day-to-day commute.

And can they do it in a way that's commensurate with the amount of money that you're spending on these cars? CLINT: I just want this car to basically do everything-- its technology, its comfort-- I want it all to take place without me noticing it. And I think, more importantly, you want to roll up to a stoplight on your commute in the morning and look at the car next to you and think, I win. I like the car I'm driving in more than that one. And if you don't have that, then that's a real problem. BRIAN: In the time that we've had the Lucid, we've always really liked the way that it drove. So it's got 819 horsepower, but you're able to apply that very evenly.

It's a very easy car to drive smoothly. The one-pedal driving is well calibrated, and we also really like the suspension. The ride quality is smooth, but it never feels floaty. And these front seats also very comfortable, and they do come with heating, ventilation, and massage function, as does the Escalade.

CLINT: If I had to give one giant thumbs up to the Lucid, it's driving quality. This thing is "jar of peanut butter that's freshly been opened" smooth. It is so easy, and it's so relaxing to drive. My problem is, for a company that's based out of Silicon Valley, the tech in this car drives me insane.

BRIAN: You're definitely right in that the technology has been a problem, but it has definitely improved over time. We've gotten constant over-the-air updates from Lucid over the course of our ownership that have added features. So, for example, when we got this car, it had trouble booting up quickly. The cameras wouldn't turn on when you put it in reverse for, like, 30 seconds.

It didn't have Apple CarPlay. It didn't have-- CLINT: It still doesn't have Android Auto. [CHIME] BRIAN: Yes. CLINT: That was a cheap shot, I'm sorry. BRIAN: It felt cheap, but it is fair because-- yes.

CLINT: Listen, tech visionary, the car should be able to have both. At this point, they can pump that in with an OTA. But one thing you cannot fix with an OTA is the layout of the screens.

Everybody in the industry now is moving to big screen, high up on the dash-- this one, smaller screen up top, big screen down below, where your feet are, so you look down instead of at the road. How many times have you been driving this car, trying to mess with something on the screen down below, and almost gotten into an accident? BRIAN: Those files are sealed. CLINT: [LAUGHS] BRIAN: Those are fair points. What Lucid has sort of done is gone for the Tesla approach, where they've really baked a lot of the car's functionality into this lower screen. So, for example, if I want to adjust the mirrors-- CLINT: Do it right now around a turn.

BRIAN: I don't-- CLINT: --and tell me how well that goes. BRIAN: I don't want to do that. Because I don't want to adjust the mirrors, the steering wheel, even open the glove box. It has to happen through this screen here. One other feature that our Lucid has added is Highway Drive Assist, which is sort of an upgraded version of adaptive cruise control. It does a pretty good job of centering you in the lane and a very good job of accelerating and slowing down smoothly.

You also have this nice little camera right here behind the steering wheel, which keeps track of my eyes to make sure that I'm looking at the road. CLINT: Thank you for bringing that up. Question there, what is that camera for? BRIAN: To watch my eyes to make sure I keep them on the road for some sort of hands-free driving system. CLINT: Hands-free driving system. Remind me, does the Lucid do hands-free driving? BRIAN: No, it does not.

CLINT: I think that the, like, covering materials in here is really well done, but the foundation of the interior quality just beneath the materials is really poor. It feels no better than any Tesla. And the Lucid, with the interior, the technology, it just has too many things wrong with it for me to love it. BRIAN: Well, let's see how your car does. CLINT: Deal. BRIAN: So this is what a luxury interior is supposed to feel like.

[LAUGHS] CLINT: The second we switched from the Lucid into this, I just instantly thought, oh my god. It is night and day. This feels like a legitimate bank vault. Everything is so solid, so well done.

The only noise that I can hear is the noise-- [ENGINE REVVING] --that I'm making with my right foot. BRIAN: I like where the placement of the screen is. It's a little bit higher so you can actually see it very easily without having to take your eyes-- CLINT: It's huge, in front of you, the entire driver. BRIAN: --too far off the road. CLINT: It's like one giant screen.

And might I add, I think this is the prettiest-looking screen in all of automotive. BRIAN: One other thing I noticed very different than the Lucid is that you have a definite step up in materials with the Cadillac. It's representative of a company that's been building luxury vehicles for decades and decades versus a newcomer that has some interesting new ideas but doesn't potentially have the know-how to really execute them well yet.

So the nice thing about having this one big-screen setup is that there's also that helpful screen over there on the left side-- CLINT: What are you talking about? BRIAN: ----[INAUDIBLE] instrument cluster, the one that tells you your mpg. So-- CLINT: I don't see it. I don't know what you're talking about. BRIAN: I know that this Escalade did pretty well on our loop. It got over its EPA estimate, about 15.8 mpg. But I remember that you had this vehicle over the weekend, and you sent me a text to tell me what? CLINT: That I've been doing about 7-- BRIAN: 7.

OFFICER: 7. CLINT: --about 7 mpg, single digits, in the year 2023. You got to get this engine because you want it, but it is not cheap to operate, not even a little. BRIAN: At 7 mpg, to go 100 miles, that's 14 gallons of gas. CLINT: Not great.

BRIAN: I did that math on my own. So one of the strengths of the Lucid was how it drove. So tell me, Clint, how does the Escalade drive? CLINT: Brian, this is a truck that's trying to squeeze itself into a racing suit. It's fun. It is a laugh factory on wheels, but it's not exactly dynamic.

The accelerator is really easy to be smooth with, for as much noise as it makes. The brake pedal, on the other hand, is not fantastic. It's kind of hard to be smooth in just everyday driving. BRIAN: The other thing I really don't like about this vehicle is I think the ride quality-- definitely not luxurious.

CLINT: It rides like a truck. This is where I'm going to gloat for a second. You know what I'm about to do? BRIAN: What? CLINT: You know what I'm about to do. BRIAN: I don't know.

CLINT: If I don't want to drive, I don't have to because Super Cruise. BRIAN: You're such a show-off. CLINT: Yeah, exactly-- true, hands-free driving in the Escalade. I have to keep paying attention to the road at all times and then keep my hands in my lap.

It's going to speed up, slow down, keep itself in the lane. It just works so, so, so well. It's probably my favorite in the entire industry.

And one other thing we love about Super Cruise is that this version will actually change lanes on its own. It'll, like, assess the traffic situation and say, hey, the left lane is faster right now. And the car will look at the lane, pick it, find a gap to shoot, and actually change to make your driving experience quicker. It's looking for the opening, and it's going to cut this Subaru right off.

BRIAN: Oh my god. CLINT: There we go. [LAUGHS] See? It committed. It had to find its courage and then say, hey, I did it. And I love that it tells you auto change complete. It's proud of itself.

BRIAN: Very proud. CLINT: Here's my thinking on the Escalade. This is more luxurious because all the things I want to happen are going on without me thinking about them. And it has a bunch of other stuff that we haven't even covered.

There's more tech, more luxury going on here than the Lucid could ever dream of having. BRIAN: While the Lucid might seem like the more tech-forward choice, the Escalade-V definitely has more technology features baked into it. So even though this is more of, I guess, the legacy automaker vehicle, it's actually more tech forward in a lot of ways than the Lucid. CLINT: This feels like the very best that Cadillac has to offer at the moment. And in theory, that's what the Lucid should be as well, and it's just not.

BRIAN: [YAWNS] Excuse me. CLINT: You tired? BRIAN: A little bit. CLINT: Look at this. I got you. I got you. BRIAN: Oh, thank you.

Oh my god. Is it cold? CLINT: Fridge. Tastes like luxury, doesn't it? BRIAN: Tastes like [MUTED].

[CAN CLATTERS] So that makes it two wins for the Cadillac and one win for the Lucid. Obviously, in the third challenge, the Cadillac-- CLINT: The Escalade won. BRIAN: I already said that. CLINT: Dude, I can't see you, let alone hear you-- BRIAN: I can't see you either.

CLINT: --from all the way back. BRIAN: You're the shortest man in the world-- CLINT: All right, enough of that. BRIAN: --and you brought the tallest car.

CLINT: Enough of that. BRIAN: The Cadillac obviously wins our third challenge. But now we have to sit here and answer the question of, if you had $150,000 and you had to buy an American, high-performance, luxury vehicle, Clint, which one of these two are you buying? CLINT: That, and it's not even my bias that's talking.

That is just the better, more enjoyable vehicle. It's expensive, but it's worth the money. It really is. BRIAN: For me, it's hard. Because I think that the future of American, high performance, and luxury is definitely electric and-- [ENGINE REVVING] I see your point.

I see your point. CLINT: I did that for a reason. BRIAN: I see your point. CLINT: The ferocious V8 under the hood is part of why the Escalade-V won. Don't get me wrong.

But that's not going to be around much longer. And these two companies are on a glide path to a pretty similar end destination. BRIAN: Yeah. I think even though we would both obviously take home the Cadillac because, one, you can unlock it when you want to, and two-- I mean, listen to it. This isn't going to be around for much longer. We should enjoy it while we-- we should enjoy it while we still have it.

Cadillac has already announced that in the future, they're going to become an all-electric luxury company, which is what Lucid is right now. And if we look up in 10 years, I think these two companies will have more in common than they do apart. Like you, I would obviously take the Escalade-V home today if I had to.

That doesn't mean that I don't think that the Lucid can really get its act together. And these two will be battling head to head in the future, hopefully long into the next decade. CLINT: And that is something we can ponder right now, but I get to drive. BRIAN: If you're driving, you're paying for gas. CLINT: Don't even think about it. BRIAN: You got a lead foot.

CLINT: [INAUDIBLE] it at best. BRIAN: All you do is accelerate. [REVS ENGINE] [MELANCHOLY MUSIC] (SINGING) Born in the USA, I was-- CLINT: Sing it louder. BRIAN: Nope, I'm good. CLINT: OK. Do the pop pop.

Do the pop pop. [ENGINE POPPING] Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. BRIAN: Pretty quick, though, even in slow mode.

SPEAKER 1: Jonathan, we're in the clear. And thanks so much, man. BRIAN: Albert, you can talk now. ALBERT HERNANDEZ: OK.

[LAUGHTER] SPEAKER 2: OK, that's it.

2023-08-19 19:38

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