Honda debuts roomy, pricey Prologue EV
BY HENRY PAYNE
The Gazette, Colorado Springs
Honda Motor Co. on Thursday unveiled the Prologue SUV, its first electric vehicle for the U.S. market. It’s also the first Honda vehicle built in partnership with General Motors Co. on the Detroit automaker’s Ultium battery platform. With a targeted price of under $50,000 and an estimated range of 300 miles, Prologue is aimed at the meat of the EV market currently dominated by the $50k Tesla Model Y. As governments from California to Washington, D.C., force automakers to go all-ev over the next 10 years, Prologue marks a different model strategy than Honda has been known for in the U.S. market. Historically a value automaker, Honda has won over millions of American consumers — and gained a 7% U.S. market share — by conquesting entry-level buyers with sub-$30,000 models like the Civic, HR-V and Accord, then graduating them to $30k-plus family vehicles like the CR-V and Pilot. Further upscale, Honda’s Acura luxury brand has catered to customers looking for premium offerings. Given EVS’ high costs and high-demographic customer, however, Prologue is aimed more at existing Honda customers who have craved an EV. It will likely be Honda’s most expensive model, with marketing photos showcasing the vehicle charging in an upscale home. “In terms of the current income bracket for EV buyers they are going to be looking for EVS in this price range with this feature level,” said Rob Keough, director of battery-electric vehicle planning for Honda North America. “It’s going to appeal to Honda loyalists who have been waiting for the right EV in the electric space.” The Japanese automaker has sold the wee, battery-powered Honda e hatchback in Japan and Europe since 2000 but its limited, 100-mile range and $33k price tag — 50% more than a base-trim Honda Civic — are deemed impractical for the U.S. market. Prologue’s Acura ZDX cousin — also built on the Ultium platform — was introduced this year and is expected to start at $60,000, the brand’s priciest offering. Some of the vehicles’ sticker shock could be negated by a $7,500 tax credit if they are assembled, as expected, in the U.S. Honda ultimately intends to produce its own EV platform in Ohio. In addition to the luxury-class Model Y, Prologue will compete against $40k-$45k mainstream badges like the Toyota BZ4X, Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Nissan Ariya, Ford Mustang Mach-e and Chevy Blazer EV. These entries are designed to appeal to the mid-size SUV customer — the largest segment in the auto industry — as automakers try to meet EV sales volume mandates. California, for example, requires that 35% of automaker sales be battery-powered by the 2026 model year or face significant fines. Prologue intends to gain EV buyers the old-fashioned Honda way: with room and vroom. The SUV boasts a 121-inch wheelbase that is nearly nine inches longer than the BZ4X — and 10 inches bigger than its gas-engine sibling, the $42,000 Passport. That chassis, with the Ultium battery stored underneath, translates into a best-in-class, 137 cubic feet of interior space, most of which appears intended to benefit passenger space. Indeed, while Prologue’s starting price is closer to that of the $44k EV6, its square, roomy proportions are more akin to the $56k Kia EV9 three-row SUV that debuted recently. Honda says that the cubeshaped Prologue is infused with the sporty DNA that has been synonymous with Honda since its early racing days. While Prologue isn’t planned for any racing series (unlike the Jaguar i-pace SUV when it launched in 2018), its lowslung batteries offer a low center of gravity complimented by multi-link front and rear suspensions and available SPORT driving mode. Prologue comes standard as a front-wheel-drive model with all-wheel-drive optioned. The twin-motor model features 288 horsepower and 333 poundfeet of torque. Its EX, Touring and Elite trims are familiar to owners of other models, and Honda hopes that familiarity will encourage adoption rom green-focused owners who have bought the brand’s Accord, CR-V and Insight hybrid models. Hybrids this year have accounted for half the sales of Accord and CR-V.