You’ve got to admire Honda. With the all-new 2022 model, the carmaker is calling it “The Best Civic Ever!” With this being the 11th generation, there are a lot of previous models, and previous owners who might be skeptical. But hey, we’ve got an open mind – let’s see if it’s as good as they say.
All Grown Up
The first thing that hits you is the maturity of the design. No not, modern maturity, just a clean grown-up look. While we loved the previous model, we can understand why some felt it was a little to boy-racer over the top.
The front reminds of the Accord, with a prominent forward grille framed by LED lights with a cool “eyelid” that gives a serious “don’t mess with me” vibe.
The profile also carries the clean design, with a sharp horizontal character line below the windows that remains nearly horizontal across the full-length of the body. The greenhouse area looks larger than before and gives a more spacious feel inside and out, while an upswept character line at the lower part of the doors adds some visual muscle. The finishing touch –multi-spoke alloy wheels that have a nice contrasting paint scheme that really lets them stand out.
The rear is visually cleaned up as well, saying goodbye to the big fake grilles in the lower fascia, while crisp, horizontal LED taillights, a wider rear stance and a molded in lip at the top of the trunk lid create a VW/BMW-like feel. Overall, this is a very handsome vehicle, one that looks more expensive than the previous gen.
All Decked Out
Inside, Honda says the design motif is Elegance through Simplicity. While interior space hasn’t changed, the design looks upscale and modern, with a long horizontal metal honeycomb design that spans the dash and conceals the vents. Honda was also clever in designing touch surfaces that are fingerprint resistant!
On our Touring model the old squared-off and sectional gauges are replaced with a handsome digital display that wouldn’t look out of place in an Audi. We love the little display in the tach that shows everything from your music selection to directions.
The 9-inch touchscreen display is an easy reach, and being a Civic Touring, features all the connectivity you could want, including Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Wireless Charging. While we like WAZE, the Civic does come with its own navigation system, and a sweet sounding 12-speaker Bose premium audio system.
We love that all the controls are very Honda, simple, easy to understand and use. While it does look upmarket, it’s friendly from the first moment you step in.
The larger greenhouse gives improved visibility – a real treat as many carmakers are giving less glass to create a more “coupe-like” vibe, and reduce weight. (Glass is heavy).
The front seats are notably improved, with better support that is instantly comfortable, and remains that way on long drives. We were a little surprised to find no adjustable lumbar support, though. The rear seats remain comfortable for adults and flip down for larger items. It’s a good-sized trunk, but if you need more cargo space, Honda just revealed the Civic hatchback that looks very similar, but has nearly twice the amount of gear-hauling space.
One For the Drivers
While a new car can overcome you with choices, the Civic’s engine choices are carried over from the previous model. There’s a base model 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder that makes a sensible 158 horsepower, and our choice, the 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder turbo which now gives 180 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque, a gain of 6 hp and 15 lb.-ft. respectively. More power and enhanced fuel efficiency. That’s a win-win for us.
Sole transmission on the Sedan is Honda’s CVT automatic. Revised to feel more like and automatic, it is one of the best CVT’s available, but we still prefer a traditional auto. Even better, we’d opt for Honda’s sweet-shifting manual transmission which is offered on the hatchback model. Look for a test from us soon.
Still the Turbo and CVT make for a lively combination, especially in the newly-added Sport Mode – previous models had only Normal and Eco. With the Touring’s Paddles shifters it’s fun to zip through the “gears” and the engine is typical Honda, light, quick responsive. A joy to drive.
Which also describes the handling and ride. The Civic is an excellent partner for a twisty road or your daily drive, with communicative steering, well controlled suspension and a general “hey I got this” vibe.
A slightly longer wheelbase enhances the overall ride, and lighter and stronger suspension components with new tuning add polish to an already accomplished performer. It’s one of those cars that’s easy to drive quickly – it’s your partner in crime. Or the commute.
Honda is making sure you feel confident as well, and the Civic features in a world’s first application, both driver and passenger frontal airbags are designed to better reduce conditions associated with brain injury by better controlling head motions in certain types of crashes. The new front driver’s airbag uses an innovative donut-shaped structure to cradle and hold the head to reduce rotation. The passenger-side front airbag uses a three-chamber design to achieve a similar result, with two outer chambers designed to cradle and control head rotation. Very cool.
This is on top of Honda’s the standard Honda Sensing® suite, including being capable of more quickly and accurately identifying pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vehicles, along with road lines and road signs. You’ll also get Traffic Jam Assist which responds more quickly when using Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane Keeping Assist. And for the first time, the Civic features Low-Speed Braking Control, and front and rear false-start prevention.
You don’t just feel looked after. You feel exceptionally well looked after!
Can I Afford to Do My Civic Duty?
Yes, you can. Next to the Accord, the Civic is Honda’s biggest seller – they’re not going to price themselves out of one of their largest markets. The sedan line up starts with the LX, with the 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine, Sport Mode, Apple CarPlay integration and the Honda Sensing Suite, all for $21,900. That’s a handsome, well equipped, and modern Honda for near-bargain prices.
Our Touring tester was at the opposite end of the Civic spectrum, starting at $28,300. You get a lot of goodness for that, including a 180-horsepower turbo engine, leather seats, Bose Premium Sound system, Wireless Apple CarPlay integration, Wireless Phone Charger and more. Our tester’s lone option was Morning Mist Metallic paint ($395). Add in $995 for Destination, and we rang the bell at $29,690.
Competitors would include the Mazda 3 at $27,995 for a non-turbo model that’s still a lovely drive , The VW Jetta GLI is a strong performer, but you’ll be looking at $32,835 comparably equipped. We think the Kia Forte GT is a neat piece, too at a hair over $27,000 it’s the bargain bahnstormer in this group. Note: a facelifted Forte was just announced for 2022, so we’d wait to see that one. For an overall package, we’d say the Civic still reigns supreme.
Stylish, beautifully equipped and a great drive – the 2022 Honda Civic is the best Civic ever. And best in class!
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.