Car review: The new Honda Civic is the best small car you can buy – and no one is surprised
Honda’s phenomenal success from the 1970s to today was due in large part to the fact that its most successful vehicle, the Civic, was perfectly in tune with the times: fuel efficient, reliable, affordable. and funny.
These are trying times for automakers. Even the best aren’t sure if they can translate what they do best in a transformed industry that relies on electricity, renewables, and automated safety and driver assistance systems. The shift in customers from the sedans that dominated the first 130 years of the auto industry to SUVs is compounding the challenge.
Despite all the fuss, the new 2022 Civic compact sedan has just arrived as the best-in-class vehicle in almost every way.
Prices for the 2022 Civic sedan start at $ 21,700. All Civics have front-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission. The base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. A turbocharged 1.5L four-cylinder producing 180 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque is standard on EX and Touring models. I tested a well-equipped Touring model that cost $ 28,695.
All prices exclude destination charges.
A Civic hatchback goes on sale this fall. There is no plan for a coupe.
The Civic competes in the declining class of compact sedans, which currently includes the Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Mazda 3, Nissan Sentra, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Corolla and VW Jetta.
Honda Civic 2022 Sedan Trim Levels and Price:
- Civic LX $ 21,700
- Civic sport $ 23,100
- Civic EX $ 24,700
- Civic tour $ 28,300
The Civic 2022 is completely new. Its wheelbase increased by 1.4 inches, the length increased by 1.3. The height and width are unchanged.
The exterior design is more mature than the sometimes picky look of the previous Civic, the 10th generation of the small car. The hood is longer, while the A-pillars are straighter. The shoulder lines and the rear deck are lower. The changes contribute to a long, lean profile. Large windows contribute to good visibility. Passenger space has increased slightly.
Available features include Honda’s first Bose sound system, a good 12-speaker system.
Unlike the rather complicated shifter that some Hondas use, the Civic has a refreshingly simple shifter, with a conventional PRND pattern.
All Civics are equipped with an LCD instrument panel, with Touring models offering a crystal clear 10.2-inch high-definition screen. The Touring Pack also includes a 9-inch touchscreen and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The lower trims have a 7-inch touchscreen and require a USB connection for these features.
The most immediately noticeable interior change is a metal honeycomb in the middle of the dashboard. In a nice touch, it incorporates air conditioning vents.
The front seat frames are new, a change that is easy to overlook visually, but pays off in the comfort behind the wheel.
The 1.5L turbo four-cylinder engine got a welcome increase in power starting in 2021. The power of the 2.0L engine is unchanged.
Safety and driver assistance functions available:
- Forward collision warning and automatic braking
- Adaptive cruise control with low-speed tracking
- Lane Keeping Assistance and Alert
- Traffic jam assistance
- Recognition of traffic signs
- Blind spot alert
- Low speed automatic braking with throttle control
Driving impressions: fast, but noisy
The 2022 Civic’s stiffer chassis and razor-sharp steering contribute to a smooth ride and confident handling. The Civic is flexible and manoeuvrable. The brakes are firm and capable.
The 1.5L turbo’s strong throttle response gave the Civic satisfactory performance, both in the city and on the highway. The CVT is discreet.
Honda will add performance versions of the Civic later, but the 1.5L turbo will be more than enough for most drivers.
The EPA rates the 1.5L Touring at 31 mpg in the city, 38 on the highway and 34 combined. The combined figure beats all competitors except the Toyota Corolla Apex XSE, which is significantly less powerful.
I was surprised by the road noise at freeway speeds. Honda boasts of the new Civic’s sound insulation, but tire and wind noise crept into hands-free phone calls and made it difficult to appreciate the Bose audio system.
The Civic offers a long list of safety and driver assistance features.
I found adaptive cruise control – which swapped the previous generation’s radar for a digital camera – a bit reluctant. Its overly generous minimum following distance invited other vehicles to cut me off, and ACC braked more aggressively than necessary in response to other vehicles.
Comfortable and high-end interior
The interior of the Civic is spacious and comfortable. A wide-opening lid makes it easy to load bulky items into the spacious trunk.
The dashboard, doors and armrests are covered with padded materials that look and feel great.
The front seat offers plenty of legroom and headroom, with a storage bin in the center console. The LCD gauges were very clear in my tour model. The touchscreen is responsive.
Honda almost dislocated a shoulder while praising itself for adding a volume dial to the audio controls, but failed to see the need for a corresponding dial for tuning. Small rocker switches under the volume control and on the steering wheel let you select the station or track.
The climate controls have large dials and knobs. They are easy to use while driving.
The rear seat offers good leg and shoulder room.
Honda Civic 2022 at a glance
- Base price: $ 21,700 Compact five-seater front-wheel drive sedan
- Vehicle tested: 1.5T Touring
- Price as tested: $ 28,695
- Engine: 1.5L four-cylinder turbo
- Power: 180 hp at 6,000 rpm; 177 lb-ft of torque at 1,700-4,500 rpm
- Transmission: Continuously variable automatic
- EPA estimated fuel economy: 31 mpg city / 38 highway / 34 combined. Regular fuel
- Annual fuel cost estimated by the EPA: $ 1,400
- Wheelbase: 107.7 inches
- Length: 184 inches
- Width: 70.9 inches
- Height: 55.7 inches
- Curb weight: 3,077 pounds
- Passenger volume: 96.6 cubic feet
- Luggage capacity: 14.4 cubic feet
- Assembled in Alliston, Ontario
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