First ride with the Honda Prologue a pretty good start

First ride with the Honda Prologue: a pretty good start

We're in 2024 and Honda is a little late to the game when it comes to electric vehicles.

While some competitors have rushed to market with electrified options – Kia and Hyundai come to mind – Honda has rested on the hybrid powertrains of the Accord, the CR-V and the future model climbed back onto the Civic, thus finding itself in a tough spot Situation when it came to bringing a fully electric vehicle onto the market. Sure, the company built the Clarity EV from 2017 to 2020, but it's not like the sub-90 mile range set the world on fire.

That's where General Motors and the Chevrolet Blazer EV come into play. By working with the American automaker and agreeing to use its Ultium platform for two electric vehicles, one from Honda and the other from Acura, the Japanese company was able to bring an electric vehicle with a range of nearly 300 miles to market much faster.

The Honda Prologue, the company's first long-range electric vehicle for North America, will be available in dealers this spring. And when it comes to market, the midsize SUV (roughly the size of the Honda Passport) will compete with the Tesla Model Y, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the Kia EV6, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, and yes, even the Chevy Blazer EV compete – with the Prologue shares a powertrain.

Honda is a little late to the game when it comes to electric vehicles

“But Emme,” I hear you ask, “didn’t GM just start a sales freeze on the Chevy Blazer EV because the cars were breaking down?”

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

I don't know if this was authentic or not, but I didn't notice any malfunctions 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.

Range and charging

The Prologue will be available in EX, Touring and Elite trim levels. The bottom two trim levels 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 engine rated at 212 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Combined with an 85 kWh battery, you get a range of 296 miles.

My time is in the elite equipment. This adds a rear-mounted engine and increases output to 288 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque. The battery capacity is the same, but the dual motor setup doesn't pose too much of a burden, providing a range of 273 miles. If you want to get a little more out of it, opt for the mid-range Touring all-wheel drive, which can cover 281 miles on a single charge.

The Prologue will be available in EX, Touring and Elite trim levels

The downside is that the Prologue can only accept 155kW DC fast charging. There's little to write home about these days, considering the Kia EV6 is bigger at 235kW, while the Hyundai Ioniq 5 pushes things up a notch at 350kW. When charging at home, the 11.5 kW onboard charger is fast enough to add 55 km of juice in an hour, assuming you have a 48 amp wall unit.

The Prologue is equipped with a CCS charging port, but you may also be able to use the Tesla Supercharger network with the included NACS adapter. Honda has also partnered with EVgo and Electrify America, and owners can access all three charging networks through the HondaLink app. This should make things a lot easier for owners as they won't have to go through the hassle of juggling multiple apps and payment paradigms on the go. Honda has also partnered with six North American manufacturers to build a charging infrastructure that will be rolled out this summer.

Buyers also have a choice of three charging packages that prioritize charging at home or charging at high-speed public stations. For example, buyers can secure a Level 2 home charging station and a $500 installation credit along with a smaller public charging credit, or opt for a portable charging kit and a larger public charging credit. People who need to park on the street or otherwise don't have the ability to charge at home can get $750 to charge at EVgo. Additionally, every Prologue comes with 60 kWh of free charging from Electrify America, no matter which charging package you choose.

Finally travel time

Driving the new Prologue is a pleasant experience thanks to the well-tuned chassis and instant electric torque. Accelerating off-track is a lot of fun and merging onto the highway is a breeze. Even at higher speeds, squeezing the throttle results in a burst of speed to easily get around the slow Prius in the left lane.

When the road gets twisty, the Prologue is probably quiet enough for the kind of people who buy midsize SUVs, but I wouldn't call it grin-inducing. Of course, power delivery is consistent, but my Elite tester's 21-inch wheels are wrapped in Bridgestone Alenza all-season tires. These don't offer the greatest grip and the rather small profile ensures that bumps on the road are easily transferred to the interior. The smaller 19-inch wheels provide more sidewall padding, which means fewer bumps. The steering in Normal mode is light and direct, and there's a nice ambient noise that matches 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 driving behavior doesn't change at all. The steering becomes quicker and a little heavier, two characteristics I really like, and the accelerator pedal is a little more responsive, but that's about it. And you also get red ambient lighting. I know, very chic.

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

Due to the placement of the Sport button in the lower left part of the dashboard, it is difficult to find. The cluster includes the buttons for the lane departure warning, the automatic hold function, the dashboard lighting and the electronic parking brake. Drivers will probably get used to the placement within a few weeks, but I felt like I had to take my eyes off the road for too long to find it while driving.

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

The Honda Sensing package of driver assistance systems is standard and includes forward collision warning and emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, 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 for Honda to reach a higher level.

All that and the looks too

The prologue design process began during the Covid pandemic with all the associated travel restrictions. Honda says it relied on VR and AR to exchange ideas between the American and Japanese teams, and the result is a pretty car indeed.

The midsize SUV is the same length and width as the gasoline-powered Passport, but sits lower to the ground for a sleeker look. For a clear aesthetic, two narrow daytime running lights are arranged on the jeweled headlights. Honda calls it “neo-robust” – whatever that means. I just want to say that it strikes a great balance between traditional Honda designs and a more sculpted, aerodynamic EV aesthetic.

There are some special features here. The new emblem is pretty cool as the brand name is written on the tailgate in a futuristic font instead of the standard Honda “H”. There are also some excellent colors offered, including North Shore Pearl, inspired by the waters of Lake Tahoe, California.

Honda calls it “neo-robust” – whatever that means

Inside, every Prologue features 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 push-button start, wireless charging, and a total of four 3.0-amp USB-C 45-watt charging ports. I love the two-tier center console with storage in front of the huge cup holders. The storage space in the center armrest is also spacious.

Your screen needs are satisfied by an 11-inch digital instrument cluster and a slightly larger infotainment touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard. Google is also integrated, giving drivers Google Assistant and access to Google Play features.

Enter a destination into Google Maps and the system will not only show you charging stations along the route, but also tell you how long it will take you to charge to reach the destination of your trip. The system can even pre-condition the battery for DC charging to minimize your waiting time. These are welcome features that add a little more mystery to travel planning as more people switch to electric vehicles.

There will be no frunk in the prologue, which is disappointing. However, there is 25 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, which increases to nearly 58 cubic feet when those seats are folded away. However, keep in mind that these numbers only apply to the EX trim. The Touring and Elite trim levels offer slightly less space. That's more than what's found in the Kia EV6, although the Prologue falls short of what's offered in the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Hyundai Ioniq 5.

If you carry more people than luggage, you will be very happy with the rear seats and their two recline angles. There's also four inches more rear legroom than the Subaru Solterra and Toyota bZ4X, two other potential rivals. Heck, it even beats the Mustang Mach-E's rear seat legroom by an inch. However, when comparing the Ioniq 5 and EV6, the situation evens out somewhat.

Prices for the prologue

While Honda says it plans to launch an electric vehicle based on its own architecture in North America in 2025, buyers will be able to purchase the Prologue in March of this year. The 2024 Honda Prologue starts at $48,795, including $1,395 for the front-drive EX, while the top trim Elite with all-wheel drive costs a hefty $59,295.

If you're wondering about the $7,500 federal electric vehicle tax credit, as of this writing the Prologue is ineligible. However, this could change in the future if the company meets IRS requirements for sourcing minerals and batteries.

Still, the Prologue is a good start for Honda toward its goal of launching 30 new electric vehicles worldwide by 2030. We're hoping future models will charge a little faster and feature some sort of hands-free driving, but buyers won't be disappointed with this first attempt at an electric offering.

Photography by Emme Hall / The Verge