Honda Prologue first ride: a pretty good start

Here we are in 2024 and Honda is a little late to the electric vehicle game.

While some competitors have rolled out electrified options with a lickity-split rate – I’m looking at you, Kia and Hyundai – Honda has relied on the hybrid powertrains of the Accord, CR-V and the soon-to-be retooled Civic, which left him in a bit of a bind when it came to bringing an all-electric vehicle to market. Sure, the company built the Clarity EV from 2017 to 2020, but it’s not like its sub-90-mile range set the world on fire.

Enter General Motors and the Chevrolet Blazer EV. By joining forces with the American automaker and agreeing to use its Ultium platform for a pair of electric cars, one from Honda and the other from Acura, the Japanese company could much more quickly produce an electric vehicle with a range of almost 480 kilometers to market.

The Honda Prologue, the company’s first long-range EV for North America, will hit dealerships this spring. And when it arrives, the midsize SUV (about the same size as the Honda Passport) will compete with the Tesla Model Y, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Ford Mustang Mach-E, and yes, even the Chevy Blazer EV – which Prologue shares a drivetrain.

Honda is a little late to the electric vehicle game

“But Emme,” I hear you ask, “didn’t GM just put a stop sale on the Chevy Blazer EV because cars were bricking themselves?”

Yes, I did it. However, Honda assures us that while the new Prologue uses GM’s Ultium battery platform and hardware, the software is all Honda. The people I spoke to last month at the Prologue launch in Healdsburg, CA, didn’t seem all that concerned about GM’s freeze on sales.

Whether that was authentic or not I don’t know, but I didn’t encounter any problems during my time with the car. In fact, my ride in the Prologue turned out to be quite enjoyable – with no rocks to disrupt the party.

The Prologue will be available in EX, Touring and Elite trims. The bottom two trims have a choice of front- or all-wheel drive, while the Elite trim sends power exclusively to all four wheels. Front-wheel drive models have a single motor making 212 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Combined with an 85 kWh battery you get a range of 476 miles.

My time is in the Elite trim. This adds a rear-mounted engine and goes up to 288 ponies and 333 pound-feet of torque. The battery capacity is the same, but the dual-motor setup doesn’t require too much effort and delivers a range of 275 miles. If you want to venture even further, opt for the mid-level Touring all-wheel drive, which can travel 450 kilometers on a single charge.

The Prologue will be available in EX, Touring and Elite trims

The downside here is that the Prologue can only accept 155 kW DC fast charging. These days that’s hardly anything to write home about, as the Kia EV6 goes bigger at 235kW, while the Hyundai Ioniq 5 blows everything out of the water at 350kW. If you’re charging at home, the onboard 11.5 kW charger is fast enough to add 35 miles of juice in an hour, assuming you have a 48-amp wall unit.

The Prologue comes with a CCS charging port, but ultimately you can use the Tesla supercharging network with the included NACS adapter. Honda also partners with EVgo and Electrify America, and owners can access all three charging networks within the HondaLink app. This should make things much easier for owners who don’t have to deal with the hassle of multiple apps and payment paradigms on the go. Honda has also partnered with six North American manufacturers to build out charging infrastructure, which will debut this summer.

Buyers also get a choice of three charging packages, with priority given to charging at home or charging at public high-speed stations. For example, buyers can snag a Level 2 home charging station and a $500 installation credit, along with a smaller credit at public charging stations, or opt for a portable charging package and a larger credit at public charging stations. People who have to park on the street or otherwise cannot charge at home can get $750 for charging at EVgo. Additionally, every Prologue comes with 60 kWh of free charging from Electrify America, regardless of which charging package you choose.

Driving the new Prologue is a pleasant experience, thanks to a nicely tuned chassis and that instant electric torque. Off-the-line acceleration is a lot of fun and highway merging is a breeze. Even at higher speeds, pressing the accelerator results in a speed boost that can easily get you around that slow Prius in the left lane.

When the road gets twisty, the Prologue is probably composed enough for the kind of people looking for midsize SUVs, but it’s not what I’d call grin-worthy. Of course, the power delivery is smooth, but the 21-inch wheels on my Elite tester are shod with Bridgestone Alenza all-season tires. These don’t offer the most grip, and the small profile means bumps in the road are easily transferred into the cabin. The smaller 19-inch wheels provide more sidewall cushion, which equals fewer bumps. The steering in Normal mode is light and direct, and there’s a nice ambient sound that coincides with the car’s acceleration and deceleration.

My Elite tester also gets a Sport mode, but there are no adaptive dampers on the Prologue, so the handling doesn’t change at all. The steering becomes quicker and a little heavier, two features I really enjoy, and the throttle becomes a little more responsive, but that’s about it. And you also get red mood lighting. I know, very chic.

Driving the new Prologue is a pleasant experience, thanks to a nicely tuned chassis and that good old instant electric torque

The placement of the Sport button at the bottom left of the dash means it’s hard to find. The cluster contains the buttons for Lane Keeping Assist, Auto Hold, the dashboard lighting and the electronic parking brake. Drivers will probably get used to the placement in a few weeks, but I felt like I had to take my eyes off the road for too long to locate it during my drive.

Honda hasn’t done much to GM’s excellent regenerative braking system. At maximum regeneration, the Prologue comes to a complete stop without the driver ever having to touch the friction brakes. Even if you’re not at the highest level, there’s a regeneration-on-demand steering paddle for a quick dose of maximum regeneration. It’s great, and I love getting free energy.

The Honda Sensing driver assistance package is standard across the board and includes forward collision warning and emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist and the like. They all work as advertised, but don’t expect advanced hands-free technology here. We’ll probably have to wait a few years before Honda can jump up a level.

The design process of the Prologue started during the Covid pandemic with all the travel restrictions that entailed. Honda says it relied on VR and AR to share ideas between the American and Japanese teams, and the result is a handsome car indeed.

The midsize SUV has the same length and width as the gas-powered Passport, but sits lower to the ground for a more streamlined appearance. A pair of narrow daytime running lights are stacked on top of the jeweled headlights for a sleek aesthetic. Honda calls it ‘neo-rugged’ – whatever that means. I’ll just say that it offers a great balance between traditional Honda designs and a more sculpted aerodynamic EV aesthetic.

There are a few highlights here. The new badge is pretty cool, with the brand name spelled out on the tailgate in a futuristic font instead of the standard Honda ‘H.’ There are also a number of excellent colors available, including ‘north shore pearl’, inspired by the waters of Lake Tahoe, California.

Honda calls it ‘neo-rugged’ – whatever that means

Inside, every Prologue gets heated front seats, a 10-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support, and a dual-zone HVAC system with physical controls. There’s also a push-button start, wireless charging, and a total of four 3.0-amp USB-C 45-watt charging ports. I dig the two-tiered center console with a storage compartment ahead of the giant cup holders. The storage space in the center armrest is also spacious.

Your need for screens is satisfied by an 11-inch digital instrument cluster and a slightly larger infotainment touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. Google is also built-in, so drivers get Google Assistant and access to the features on Google Play.

Type a destination into Google Maps and the system will not only give you charging stations along the way, but also tell you how long you need to charge to reach the end of your journey. The system can even prepare the battery for DC charging to keep your wait time to a minimum. These are welcome features, taking some of the mystery out of trip planning as more people make the switch to electric vehicles.

You won’t get any frunk in the prologue, which is disappointing. However, there are 25 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, which expands to nearly 58 cubes when those seats are lowered. However, keep in mind that these numbers only apply to the EX trim. Touring and Elite versions have slightly less space. It’s more than what’s found in the Kia EV6, although the Prologue falls behind what’s offered in the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Hyundai Ioniq 5.

If you’re carrying more people than stuff, you’ll be very pleased with the rear seat and two reclining positions. There’s also four more inches of rear legroom than you’ll find in the Subaru Solterra and Toyota bZ4X, two other potential competitors. Heck, it even beats the Mustang Mach-E’s rear-seat legroom by an inch. However, when comparing the Ioniq 5 and EV6, things are somewhat similar.

While Honda says it will bring an electric car built on its own architecture to market in North America in 2025, buyers can expect to see the Prologue on sale in March of this year. The 2024 Honda Prologue starts at $48,795, including $1,395 for a front-wheel-drive EX, while the all-wheel-drive Elite trim costs a whopping $59,295.

If you’re wondering about the $7,500 federal tax credit, Prologue doesn’t qualify at the time of writing. However, this may change in the future as it meets IRS requirements for mineral and battery procurement.

Still, the Prologue is a good start for Honda in its aim to introduce thirty new electric cars worldwide by 2030. We hope future models will charge a little faster and offer some form of hands-free driving, but buyers won’t. disappointed by this first attempt at an electric offering.

Photography by Emme Hall / The Verge

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