It’s not quite ready yet, but a pre-production version of Honda’s first all-electric SUV made an appearance at the company’s Canadian head office in Richmond Hill this week, before deliveries are scheduled to begin next spring.
The Prologue is a mid-sized SUV, bigger than the Honda CR-V and slightly longer than the Honda Passport. Its wheelbase is almost 10 per cent greater than the Passport’s, allowing more space in the cabin for passengers and luggage. It’s powered by an 85-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery that can recharge at up to 155 kilowatts, which Honda says should supply an optimal range of more than 450 kilometres.
Pricing is not yet released, but there will be three trim levels. The least expensive version will start “in the mid-$60,000s,” says Honda Canada. All Canadian Prologues will be all-wheel-drive, while Americans will be offered a front-wheel-drive version that will have a longer range.
While most other automakers already have EVs on the roads in Canada, this is the first time journalists were able to just see the Prologue. Honda currently doesn’t sell any fully electric cars in Canada, which means, even when the Prologue is delivered, the Japanese maker known for fuel efficient cars will be well behind its competition. But this isn’t Honda’s first EV. In 1997, it released the Honda EV Plus, mostly to meet California regulations, and it sells the tiny Honda e in Europe and Japan.
Inside, the Prologue feels spacious and airy owing to to minimal clutter and large windows – similar to the 2023 CR-V. “We tried to keep it clean and simple, and really focused on being very spacious,” said Phil Halle, Honda Canada’s product planner for Prologue and the upcoming Acura ZDX EV. “It’s a very good transition vehicle for someone who is in [a gas-powered vehicle] and wants to get into an EV, and who doesn’t want to be overwhelmed by touchscreens and buttons.”
The Prologue is a transitional vehicle for Honda, too. It was created in a partnership with General Motors, and uses GM’s new Ultium platform for its battery pack, electric motors and regeneration system. It will be built in Mexico at GM’s Ramos Arizpe assembly plant, alongside the Chevrolet Blazer EV with which it shares the Ultium platform.
The new Chevy Blazer EV will be delivered to customers later this year. Its base model has a starting price of $63,298, which includes all costs except taxes. It has a base price just under $60,000, which qualifies it for the Canadian federal EV rebate of $5,000, as well as potential provincial rebates. If the Prologue’s base price is above $60,000, it will not qualify for the federal rebate.
The first Prologues will have standard CCS charging ports. Honda recently announced an agreement with six other automakers (BMW, GM, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis) to create a unified, high-power charging network across North America, which will be compatible with both CCS and Tesla connectors. At least 30,000 charge points will be installed, available to all vehicles. Honda also announced this month that its EVs will adopt the Tesla North American Charging Standard, starting in 2025, meaning its vehicles will be able to recharge at Tesla’s Supercharger stations.
In the meantime, Honda is investing US$700-million to retool its assembly plants in Marysville, Ohio, for the production of battery electric vehicles in 2025, and recently broke ground on a battery production plant in Ohio, in partnership with LG Energy Solution, that plans on an annual capacity of 40 gigawatt-hours. In comparison, the Stellantis battery production plant under construction in Windsor, also in partnership with LG Energy Solution, plans on an annual capacity of at least 45 gigawatt-hours.
Honda says its first EV to be developed fully inhouse, using its own proprietary e:Architecture platform and batteries, will go on sale in North America late in 2025.
“Our own platform is coming, but are we late? I don’t think so,” said Hayato Mori, assistant vice-president of product planning at Honda Canada. “I always say, we’re timely. We think consumers are starting to warm up to the idea of electrification, and I think it’s going to take a little longer for the majority of people to switch over, but we’ll see.”
For now, the Prologue has no single “wow” feature to separate it from the growing competition, but has been designed and tuned by Honda engineers from the platform up to “drive like a Honda.” Its two electric motors will generate an estimated 288 horsepower and 333 lb-ft of torque. Its central 11.3-inch display touchscreen is the largest to be installed in a Honda (the Accord has a wider screen, but not nearly so deep). It also includes the integrated Google apps that feature on the current Accord Touring.
There is 714 litres of cargo space behind the reclining rear seats and 1,634 litres when those seats are laid (almost) flat, with an extra 14 litres under the cargo floor. There’s no frunk and there’s no spare wheel, but run-flat tires will be available.
“We went with a clean, simple exterior, that’s slightly different from what we’re seeing the competition doing,” said Halle. “On the inside as well, that clean flow is less busy with vents and screens and all that kind of stuff. And it drives like a Honda. People who’ve bought into our brand will feel right at home.”