The Honda Civic is in a very elite club when it comes to being familiar with drivers across the U.S. The Civic was one of the models that helped the Japanese automakers get a foothold in the U.S. compact car market, and the Civic has not relinquished its grip on the segment since it appeared several decades ago. But the outgoing Civic was very controversial, especially with its exterior styling. The company wanted to re-embrace its performance heritage but ended up letting the designers go too wild with their creativity. Honda has learned their lesson with the 2022 Civic, but can a tamer Civic still deliver the goods on sales?
Civic’s Restrained Styling Brings Polish And Charm To Buyers
One of the biggest changes that buyers will notice is the revamped suit of clothes that it wears for the new model year. While our tester’s Maytag grey paint did little to bring sizzle to the Civic, it helped highlight some of the design changes that the Civic has received. The front fascia is less brash and has a tidier design with a new front grille and headlights giving it a modern look. Honda claims that the look is called “simple and clean,” but it makes the Civic look outright boring to some observers. The side profile is just as simple, with only one character line running along the side of the car.
It’s also readily apparent that the bigger Honda Accord played a big role in providing the design inspiration for the smaller Civic, with the rear styling sharing some of its core look with the bigger four-door. The rear styling is also where the difference between old and new is most noticeable. The wild creases, erratic taillight design, and the odd rear bumper are all gone, with clean and tidy lines defining the state of affairs. As mentioned earlier, it makes the Civic look boring, but sometimes using what works versus going for excess flash can get the job done. It worked for boxer Floyd Mayweather during his career, and we’re confident that it will work for the Civic, too, especially against rivals like the Hyundai Elantra and the Toyota Corolla.
Interior Hits Grand Slam With Civic Revamp
While the “simple and clean” mantra didn’t do too much to wake up the exterior, it really helps flip the script on the interior. What was once a plastic-filled mass of confusion has been transformed into a premium-looking space that blends modern style with retro influences. The focal point of the design is a large strip of metallic trim that runs along with the dashboard. The piece has a honeycomb style mesh and it helps hide the air vents. This touch is a nod to classic Civic models. Soft-touch plastic is used in high traffic areas and Honda engineers even equipped the dashboard plastic with a fingerprint-resistant material. These clever inclusions show that Honda is paying attention to consumer habits, and it’s a really nice thing to see.
Below the metal strip is a trio of hard knobs which are responsible for crucial functions. It was not too long ago that Honda tried to make the screen a focal point of the interior experience and actually incorporated the audio and climate controls in it in an attempt to showcase this trait. Consumers were more than happy to let Honda hear their feelings on that, and we’re glad to see that Honda made more of these functions analog for the 2022 model year. The seats in our Touring grade tester came adorned with leather and were very comfortable places to spend time during urban commutes. Honda managed to improve front and rear headroom to 37.6 and 37.1 inches, respectively. Still, the retention of the old platform means that legroom remains unchanged with front passengers getting 42.3 inches up front and rear passengers working with 37.4 inches of leg space.
While the Civic still cannot match the interior quality wielded by the Mazda3, which makes German carmakers blush with envy, the Honda is a few pegs closer to the Hyundai Elantra, which was recently redesigned. A 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system is standard equipment but move up to the EX or a Touring grade Civic like our tester and Honda gives you a 9.0-inch infotainment screen and a 10-inch fully digital instrument cluster. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard but the larger 9.0-inch screen brings wireless capability to both. As a bonus, the Civic can be upgraded with an optional Bose audio system which is a notable improvement over the old car and is the first time a Bose unit has been used in the Civic.
Fun To Drive And Eager To Please
Performance for the 2022 Civic comes from a pair of engines with lower trims powered by a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s good for 158 hp and is carried over from the old model. The theme continues with the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine that powers EX and Touring models with this boosted four-banger producing 180 hp. Our Touring grade tester came with the turbo, and while there is a sizable amount of turbo lag that you encounter when accelerating from a stop, the engine wakes up once the turbocharger has a chance to spool up fully. On the move, the Civic feels far sportier than its looks suggest, with the engine delivering welcoming bursts of acceleration when you put your foot on the gas pedal.
The lone caveat here is that for now the 2022 Civic can only be equipped with a CVT. Honda claimed that it relegated manual transmissions to performance-focused models like the Si and the Type R. While this transmission goes through the motions like some other CVTs we encountered, it just doesn’t;t have the same level of crispness and involvement as a traditional automatic or even a manual transmission. The steering in our tester was very impressive, and in certain situations, our tester managed to have even more steering response than some of the Acura models that we have tried out. That’s a very impressive feat, and this strong foundation could indicate that the upcoming Si and Type R models will be very potent entries when they arrive.
Pricing for the 2022 Honda Civic starts at $21,700 which gets you a base LX with only the essentials and not much in terms of frills. Sport and EX models enhance equipment levels and have base stickers under $25,000 with the two starting at $23,100 and $24,700 respectively. Move up to the range-topping Touring model and you are greeted with a base price of $28,300. Our loaded tester arrived at the office with a final sticker of $29,295 which included the $995 destination fee.
That’s more expensive than a Toyota Corolla sedan but it’s right in the crosshairs of the $27,000 Mazda3. As mentioned, the Mazda has better interior quality, but the Honda has a better overall package. The infotainment system is crisper, and alot of the controls are more logically placed than those in the Mazda.
When looked at by the sum of its parts, the 2022 Honda Civic is a vastly improved package. It corrects the flaws of its predecessor but manages to do it in a way that allows it to maintain some of the core essentials that have made it a smash hit among compact sedan buyers. In addition, it serves as a compelling preview of what’s to come next from a Si or a Type R model. If the platform and engineering in the normal Civic are this good, you can only imagine what performance upgrades will do to make it all better.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.