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Auto review: Navi-savvy Honda Prologue EV takes on Tesla

Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

HEALDSBURG, California — Honda entered the U.S. market in earnest in the 1970s and ‘80s, selling affordable, fun-to-drive Civic compacts and Accord sedans to budget-conscious buyers. I was one of those customers, ultimately buying two Civics and an Accord for my young family.

For Honda 2.0, the Japanese automaker is going electric at a much higher price point.

Starting at $48,795, the mid-size, two-row electric Prologue SUV is the most expensive Honda sold in the U.S. market. The top-trim Elite model I tested here nearly crossed the $60K mark at $59,295. That’s the same price as luxury-class EVs like an all-wheel-drive BMW i4, Cadillac Lyriq and Lexus RZ450e Premium. Yikes. Batteries ain’t cheap, and to achieve the holy grail of 300-mile range, the first Honda EV is entry-level only by the standards of the premium niche EV market.

That’s the reality as Prologue — aka, the beginning — leads Honda’s transition to an all-electric brand like Tesla.

Ah, Tesla.

My Prologue may be cross-shopped against the cheaper-but-just-220-mile-range Toyota bz4x. But in truth, every EV is cross-shopped against the Tesla Model Y, the mid-size SUV that dominates EV sales and was the (wow) fifth best-selling vehicle in the USA last year behind the Detroit Three trucks and Toyota RAV4. Tesla’s trillion-dollar market cap is the envy of the industry and has automakers from Tokyo to Detroit to Munich playing copycat.

 

Tesla’s Apple-like design was key — but so was its proprietary charging network that trounced unreliable competitors. Until now.

“Hey, Google. Take me to Las Vegas,” I barked at the Prologue's tablet screen.

Just like my Tesla’s navigation system, Google Built-In charted my course — complete with charging stops. Where to eat while I charged at dinner time? Google listed a Wayback Burger joint, Subway and Taco Bell within 500 feet of the charger. Just like Tesla. What did the surrounding area look like? Google Earth showed a shopping center. Just like a Tesla.

Also, the trip would take 13½ hours — not the 10 hours in say, a similarly-sized gas-powered Honda Passport. Oh.

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