Automotive Engineering - March 2024 - 16

ROAD READY
2024 Honda Prologue is a cautious invitation to drive electric
Despite the inherent potential of electric
motors to offer blazing acceleration,
Honda decided to smooth things out for
its first serious all-electric vehicle for
North America. During a recent test drive
of the 2024 Honda Prologue, SAE Media
found the midsize SUV to be a clean and
spacious vehicle that doesn't necessarily
take full advantage of its electric powertrain.
Honda believes this choice - and
it was indeed a choice - will be key to
convincing buyers to switch to an EV.
" We didn't want to give them some
shocking power delivery, " Prologue development
leader John Hwang told SAE
Media. We wanted something more
consistent and something more natural
feeling. It makes the transition easier. "
There is a sport mode with a slight performance
bump. Hwang said the team's
main mission was to deliver Honda's signature
driving dynamics like steering effort
and damper and spring tuning.
Driving through the hills around
California's Napa Valley, the Prologue's
realness came through. Quickness is not
its strong suit. The $59,295, top-of-theline
Elite trim (price includes destination)
uses a permanent-magnet traction motor
and a single-speed transmission at each
axle to provide AWD capability, with the
twin motors combining to produce 288
hp and 333 lb-ft (451 Nm). Single-motor
Prologue trims were not available to test,
The 2024 Honda Prologue in North Shore Pearl. The two-motor Elite AWD version produces 288 hp
and 333 lb-ft (451 Nm).
but they generate 212 hp and 236 lb.-ft.
(320 Nm). All versions use multi-link front
and rear suspensions. The modest output
numbers, plus the inescapable weight of
the vehicle's battery and powertrain,
meant the SUV consistently felt heavy but
never cumbersome. No one will call the
Prologue nimble, but it also wasn't challenged
by some slightly enthused driving
through the forested curves. Honda's
mass-market audience will almost certainly
approve.
Honda released initial technical details
for the 2024 Prologue last year, but the
company didn't get to decide all of those
numbers itself. The Prologue was created
with help from General Motors and uses
that automaker's Ultium platform as part
of a co-development project announced
in April 2020. Other Ultium-based vehicles
include the Acura ZDX, GMC
Hummer EV and Cadillac Lyriq.
Hwang said the codevelopment
The Prologue's
uncluttered
interior feels
spacious and
has enough
physical
buttons to
make most
comfort
adjustments
easy to
accomplish
while driving.
16 March 2024
meant Honda could take extra care with
the Prologue's interior, and it shows.
Spacious with clean lines, the cabin felt
open and practical. There are no showy
features, but most things are where you
want them to be. One counterexample
is the required deep dive into infotainment-screen
menus to adjust the regenerative
braking level.
Hwang, who also worked with GM
engineers on the Cruise Origin autonomous-vehicle
development project, said
Honda dynamics engineers moved from
Japan and Ohio to Michigan to be near
the GM Proving Ground. While working
on the damping system, for example,
Hwang said, the Honda team was joined
for weeks by GM dynamics engineers
and engineers from the damper supplier.
" We were just driving, modifying,
driving, modifying - iterating to get to
that sweet spot of what we wanted, " he
said. " It was a really collaborative effort.
The Prologue will be built at the GM
Ramos Arizpe factory in Mexico. All versions
use an 85-kWh lithium-ion battery
pack that has an official range estimate of
273 miles (439 km) for the Elite trim and
up to 296 miles (476 km) for the singlemotor
FWD versions. All trims and powertrains
will be available at launch.
Sebastian Blanco
AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERING
FROM TOP: SEBASTIAN BLANCO; HONDA

Automotive Engineering - March 2024

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Automotive Engineering - March 2024 - INTRO
Automotive Engineering - March 2024 - SPONSOR
Automotive Engineering - March 2024 - CVRA
Automotive Engineering - March 2024 - CVRB
Automotive Engineering - March 2024 - CVR1
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