If you’re lured in by the likes of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 or Kia EV6, or even the Ford Mustang Mach-E or Tesla Model Y, the 2024 Honda Prologue simply isn’t for you.

That’s because you won’t find design overtures effectively remaking the shape of the vehicle around an EV skateboard platform. Or splashy styling themes that look drawn from gaming or music. Or a minimalist interface. Or super-fast charging. Or a frunk.

What do you get? In a private, in-person preview earlier this month set up by Honda, I got a first look at the Prologue, as well as the chance to sit in it, fold the seats down, and contemplate where this model fits in.

With 300 miles of range in its base form, and a price starting in the upper $40,000 range before any EV tax credit, the Prologue is going to be a hit, I predict—if GM can make them quickly enough.

Yes, the Prologue will be built by GM—likely at its Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, plant, alongside the Chevy Equinox EV and Blazer EV. So far the ramp-up of the Cadillac Lyriq EV, from a different plant but using the same large-format Ultium cells, has been very slow.

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2024 Honda Prologue: An EV to woo CR-V Hybrid drivers, not the Tesla crowd

The reason Honda will sell every Prologue it can make, quickly, is simple: Honda designed the Prologue as its gateway EV. The time is right, and while a cautious, fiscally responsible CR-V Hybrid driver might hesitate to shift to a model that changes every interface point of what a vehicle is, the Prologue pushes ahead and changes everything unseen and underneath, while evolving the look, the interface, and the driving attributes—and the price—just enough to make it the right step forward.

But back to sizing this up as an effective EV: It’s exactly what it needs to be. The Prologue looks like a family vehicle through and through. Its door openings are huge and entry and exit are easy. Lift heights for cargo are also rather low, and the rear seatbacks flip forward and back with one hand.

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Legroom is sprawl-out long front and rear, and the only thing missing is that in the outboard positions of the back seat, headroom will verge on tight for taller people. But with good seat support, rear climate-control vents, 45-watt USB-C ports front and rear, a rear 110-volt AC socket, and big cupholders capable of dealing with big Nalgene bottles and espresso cups, the interior is a welcoming place.

The Prologue is softly contoured and doesn’t take any risks with its “neo-rugged” look and blacked-out accent trim—and, seemingly, a longer hood than it needs—but the approach pays off on the outside. There’s not an awkward angle around the vehicle, and the proportions look great.

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2024 Honda Prologue EV specs: Heart of the family market

At about 192 inches long and 78 inches wide, the Prologue is a size larger than the CR-V but a size smaller than the Pilot—comparable to Honda’s Passport or a Jeep Grand Cherokee in length and width but very different in other proportions. Built on a long 121.8-inch wheelbase—the same wheelbase as the Cadillac Lyriq—the Prologue is just 65 inches tall. And as you first lay eyes on it, it appears even more low-set and long, until you notice that it’s sitting on a blacked-out lower-body portion, representing the battery pack.

The Prologue is, as Honda puts it, a vehicle “co-developed with GM.” What this means is that while Honda started with GM’s Ultium battery and propulsion strategy—and essentially all the basics of the platform—Honda designed the “top hat,” or everything above it. There are a few exceptions here and there, in switchgear like the shift lever and the OnStar button, but for the most part the Prologue truly feels like a Honda vehicle inside.

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Across three different trim levels—EX, Touring, and Elite—Prologues get a single-layer battery pack with 85 kwh usable. The permanent-magnet motors and the inverters are from GM’s Ultium toolkit. Dual-motor all-wheel-drive versions of the Prologue make 288 hp and 333 lb-ft of torque. Single-motor versions have the motor mounted in front, driving the front wheels, and Honda isn’t yet providing output numbers.

Why is the motor in front? Honda says it’s partly for packaging efficiency and the motor configuration it sought here and what was available from GM, while also for maximizing efficiency and range. And it points to how its cousin, the Acura ZDX, opts for a rear-wheel-drive-focused layout. Front or rear, automakers do disagree on whether front- or rear-wheel drive is best.

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Is that Regen on Demand?

All versions ride on a four-wheel independent suspension, with struts in front, as well as four-wheel disc brakes. Honda says it did a lot of the steering, suspension, and chassis tuning to make sure it felt like a Honda on the road. Just to the left of the steering wheel there’s a single regen paddle (yes, we instantly thought of GM’s Regen on Demand) that Honda says will toggle through brake-regen modes. It’s still deciding on one-pedal driving. Through Sport, Normal, and Econ modes, drivers will also be able to change driving attributes in a way not unlike Honda’s current hybrid vehicles.

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I didn’t get any chance to tinker with the Prologue’s interface, as there were only renderings of it displayed on the screens of the prototype I crawled around. While the current Accord Hybrid gets Honda’s latest infotainment system using Google Built-In, the Prologue advances it a step without it feeling at all foreign. Its 11.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system offers full Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, but natively it adds some useful EV twists. The system’s route-planning will tap into Google’s latest charging station functionality and the vehicle’s efficiency data, helping drivers plan charging waypoints and preconditioning the battery pack in advance for maximum charge rate on arrival. It also allows a full-screen Google Maps view.

Separately, the gauge cluster will offer reconfigurable displays, and there’s also a full-color head-up display on top Elite trims.

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Honda Prologue charging

Road-trip charging breaks aren’t going to be particularly brief, but short enough for the occasional road trip. With its CCS port, the Prologue can fast-charge at 155 kw, good for gaining 65 miles of range in just 10 minutes, or to get from 20-80% in 35 minutes. An 11.5-kw onboard charger for at least some of the lineup will be able to fully charge the battery in about eight hours.

Honda does plan to offer a choice of several different charging deals with the Prologue. Every customer will be able to choose between an 11.5-kw home charging station plus $100 charging credit and $500 installation incentive, a 7.6-kw mobile charger plus $300 charging credit and $250 installation incentive, or a $750 charging credit. Installation can be lined up through a new Honda Home Electrification service, and Honda points to the high-speed charging network it’s creating with six other automakers and set to start in summer 2024.

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Honda hasn’t yet outlined pricing, beyond that entry price. EX and Touring versions will offer single-motor front-wheel-drive or dual-motor AWD versions, while the top Elite will be AWD-only. The base EX comes with heated front seats, a power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, and 19-inch wheels. The Touring adds Bose premium audio, a moonroof, leather upholstery, a memory seat, and other trim upgrades. And the Elite adds perforated leather upholstery, accent stitching, a heated steering wheel, and cooled front seats plus 21-inch wheels. Top Elite versions (the one seen in all these photos) will be offered in three different interior themes, including a dark espresso-brown hue—potentially an interesting match with the North Shore Pearl debut color, inspired by Lake Tahoe.

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Setting the stage for “pure” Honda EVs

The company has been thinking ahead about the Prologue and its target customer, and to hold onto them for just the right time it’s been offering two-year CR-V Hybrid leases.

What it comes down to is that the Prologue is Honda’s gateway to a new generation of EVs. To interpret that another way, we can expect Honda’s upcoming dedicated EVs, set to arrive around 2025 and built on the company’s own e:Architecture, to be another solid step forward in design, interface, and driving attributes.

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The Prologue will be available nationwide. It’s likely going to take a pragmatic approach, though, emphasizing regions in which EVs are going to sell quickly and where they’re incentivized but not shying away from sending some to every region.

Now will Honda be able to sell the 70,000 a year it originally said that it was planning on? We’re going to have to go ask GM on that one.

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