While it offers plenty of choices when it comes to hybrids and plug-in hybrids, Honda has been slow to play in the emerging EV space. It’s getting ready to launch its first long-range model and today lifted the covers on the Prologue SUV. But while it features a distinctly Honda design, all isn’t quite what it might appear to be.
Honda’s spent months teasing the 2024 launch of its Prologue EV but only now is pulling the wraps off the “Neo-Rugged” electric EV with first-ever exterior and interior pics. The look, the automaker said, is distinctly Honda, though it wouldn’t be bringing Prologue to market without a little help from its friends at General Motors — which is providing the underlying platform, motors, and battery pack.
Designed to slot between Honda’s CR-V and Passport models, the new Prologue measures 192.0 inches in length, with a 121.8-inch wheelbase. It’s 64.7 inches tall, with a width of 78.3 inches.
2024 Honda Prologue: Aero-Slick
While we’ll have to wait a while to see the Prologue in person, it doesn’t really stray very far from the look of the automaker’s existing, gas-powered SUV lineup. Although, the all-electric model has clearly spent plenty of development time in the wind tunnel to minimize aerodynamic drag. That’s the easiest way to ensure maximum range and performance.
The design has also been influenced by the unique layout of today’s EVs. It rides on a skateboard-like “architecture” that moves motors, a battery pack, and some other key drivetrain components below the load floor. That means there’s no engine under the hood — though Honda has yet to say whether it will use that space for a front trunk, or “frunk.”
There’s a small grille under the front bumper to direct cooling air to the battery pack and motors. But what would be a traditional grille is now sealed and purely decorative, framed by cat-like LED light strips. Additional vents channel air through to the front wheels to reduce turbulence.
At the back end, LED strips mirror the headlamps. One of the more unusual moves sees the Japanese automaker replace its familiar “H-mark” on the tailgate with “Honda” boldly spelled out. The “H” logo remains on the nose, however. The Prologue also gets a rear wiper, something many EVs have foregone in a bid to squeeze out every last “count” of improved aerodynamics.
The Prologue’s streamlined body has only the subtlest curves. The roofline, meanwhile, gently slopes rearward into a built-in spoiler. A large panoramic roof and large windows will provide passengers with an open, airy feeling. Adding to the sense of spaciousness is a flat load floor.
A Familiar Design With a High-Tech Tweak
The cabin itself won’t come as a shock to current Honda fans. It has the same horizontal dash, and many of the components seem lifted from the familiar Honda parts bin. But there are some key differences.
With a smaller area under the hood, it leaves more space for what Honda describes as “generous passenger and cargo space.” We’ll have to wait for actual specs to see what that actually adds up to. The skateboard-like platform also yields a flat load floor.
Honda was an early proponent of touchscreens to handle key vehicle functions. Here, the Prologue gets what appears to be one of the largest — if not the largest — screens in any of the automaker’s products. It also goes full digital for the instrument cluster. There are a handful of conventional controls, including a volume knob for the climate-control system.
Expect unique EV-oriented features in the infotainment system, including the ability to find charging stations along your route when you’re using navigation.
Honda Prologue: Drivetrain
Honda isn’t yet offering up details on the drivetrain, but we can make some informed guesses. The automaker is developing its own EV technology but won’t have its e:Architecture system ready until later in the decade.
To get going more quickly, it’s allied with General Motors. The Prologue borrows its skateboard, battery pack, and motors from GM. The same Ultium technology will appear in an array of vehicles including the upcoming Chevrolet Blazer.
It’s unlikely Honda will offer the same options — Blazer will offer the unusual choice of front-, rear-, or all-wheel drive — but single and dual-motor packages are a certainty, according to Honda sources. And we can expect the Prologue to offer a similar range to the Blazer, which is expected to get anywhere from 250 to 320 miles per charge.
By comparison, the Volkswagen ID.4 recently received a range boost, taking it up to a max 280 miles. The Ford Mustang Mach-E gets an EPA rating of 224 to 314 miles depending upon the powertrain configuration.
As for charging, Chevy hasn’t released full details yet but did indicate that Blazer can add as much as 78 miles of additional range using one of the higher-powered DC public fast-chargers popping up across the country.
In reality, more than 80% of buyers are expected to do most of their charging at home using a 240V Level 2 system. The Prologue should have similar charging characteristics.
Honda & GM: Unlikely Partners
The partnership with GM will yield a second model, a yet-unnamed EV for Honda’s upscale Acura brand. The two automakers have also announced plans to work together on a family of low-priced EVs that could come in under $30,000.
As for the Prologue, the general expectation is a starting price of around $45,000. The Prologue may be eligible for up to $7,500 in incentives under the new Inflation Reduction Act because the EV will be produced in the U.S. using American-made batteries.
Honda Prologue: Modest Goals — for Now
Honda’s sales expectations are modest: around 70,000 annually once production is fully ramped up. That appears to be limited by the shared capacity at the GM assembly plant that will build the Prologue, Blazer, and other EVs. The Honda Prologue is expected to hit North American dealers in 2024, but we’re unsure yet if it will be a 2024 or 2025 model-year vehicle.
Longer-term, once it gets those lower-priced EV models in production, along with vehicles based on the in-house e:Architecture, Honda has big aspirations.
“We are working with our dealers to plan the transition from sales of primarily gasoline-powered vehicles to selling 100% electric vehicles by 2040,” Dave Gardner, executive VP of National Operations at American Honda, said in a statement released last month.
Honda also has plans to assemble future EVs in the U.S. and recently announced a joint venture to produce lithium-ion batteries in the States as well.