Honda Civic — New and improved

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(October 17, 2021) For nearly 50 years Honda's compact Civic has been a mainstay for millions of people looking for affordable, reliable, comfortable and stylish transportation. For 2022 Honda has completely reworked its best-seller and we think Civic lovers will not be disappointed with the newest iteration that advances the nameplate in virtually every area.

Now in its 11th generation the Civic has upped its game against some formable competition that includes the refined Mazda3, stylish Hyundai Elantra, practical Toyota Corolla and feature-laden Kia Forte. Although the segment has shrunk in the last decade with the onslaught of crossover SUVs, it's still extremely competitive with a handful of really good cars. After a week behind the wheel of a Civic sedan we think jumps to the top of the 2022 list.

At the outset, the Civic comes only in sedan form, but a hatchback will be added next year along with the sporty Si and performance-infused Type R models.

The first thing that stands out is the Civic's new more conservative, but handsome exterior design replacing the overwrought, flamboyant appearance of the last generation. The cleaner and more refined lines of the 2022 model take on aspects of the mid-sized Honda Accord. This is a good thing. Looking at the new sedan you won't notice the additional 1.4-inches of wheelbase, but you will experience it once inside manifested in the car's adult-sized legroom in the rear seats.

The Civic has been given a thorough makeover inside, as well.  A more streamlined interior design is highlighted by a unique full-width honeycomb-patterned mesh design element that brilliantly hides the air vents, which are operated by toggle switches. The infotainment screen  — standard 7-inches with a larger 9-inch display on the Touring trim — sits high atop the dash.

The horizontal layout is clean and crisp and  a wider center console appears less cluttered than the outgoing model. It features a large, deep bin ahead of the shift lever — serving as a wireless charging point in the Touring trim — for stashing the paraphernalia of driving life. Cupholders and a nice-sized bin sit are situated between the front seats.

We applaud the inclusion of a real volume knob for the audio system. Perhaps the impossible-to-use volume slide control is a thing of the past in the Civic. A first for Civic — the Touring model comes with a Bose-branded audio system.

The Civic is sold in four trim levels — LX, Sport, EX and Touring — starting at $22,915 including the $995 destination charge and topping out with the Touring that includes virtually everything offered on the Civic for $29,295.

What has't changed much for 2022 is the engine/transmission choices. Base models come with the carryover 158 horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine while the upgraded engine continues to be outfitted with the 1.5-liter turbocharged four that now makes 180 horsepower, six more than in the outgoing iteration. Also remaining from the last generation is a continuously variable transmission (CVT). It comes with artificial shift points making it hard for the average driver to discern it from a standard geared transmission. Paddle shifters are available to "shift through the gears."

What is no longer available is the six-speed manual transmission. Few people order the slick-shifting six-speed these days so Honda can't make an economic case to continue offering it. Honda says a manual transmission will be offered with the upcoming hatchback, however.

The standard 2.0-liter engine is about the same size as base engines in the competition and should be adequate for most people's needs. We like and recommend the bigger turbocharged engine, however, which gives the Civic some urgency measured at about 7.5 seconds from 0-to-60. That's about the same time recorded in the 2021 Civic. Gas mileage is nearly identical in the two engines. The turbocharged 4-cylinder is EPA rated at an excellent 31 mpg city, 38 highway and 34 combined on regular gas. The smaller engine's numbers are 30/38/33.

Fuel economy is even better in the base LX model with a combined rating of 36 mpg.

We found the Civic showed a lot of sports sedan traits with spry handling and communicative steering. Our Civic Touring seemed to enjoy a workout at our usual winding rural road "test track." There's a lot of driving enjoyment dialed into the new Civic. Unfortunately, the excellent handling might come at the expense of a mellow ride. But we had no qualms with the slightly stiffer suspension.  Also we discovered the Civic exhibited more road noise at highway speeds than we think acceptable on a modern family sedan.

Standard features on every Civic include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, automatic climate control, partial digital instrument panel, and LED headlights.

We applaud Honda for making many safety features standard across the lineup including forward collision mitigation, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign reader, automatic high beams and driver attention monitor. We wish the package also included blindspot monitoring, which we think should be standard on all vehicles regardless of price. It's only available on the EX and Touring.

To get the most Civic at the least cash outlay we recommend the EX starting at $25,915. It comes with the bigger engine and adds such popular features as 17-inch alloy wheels, sunroof, dual-zone climate control, blindspot monitoring, an additional USB port (one port standard), a 180-watt audio system with 8 speakers, and heated front seats.

Our Touring test car carried a bottom line of $29,295.

2022 Honda Civic sedan


Base price: $22,915; as driven, $29,295
Engine: 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 180 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 177 pound-feet @ 1,700 rpm
Transmission: continuously variable
Drive: front wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 107.7 inches
Length: 184 inches
Curb weight: 3,077 pounds
Turning circle: 36.1 feet
Luggage capacity: 14.4 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 12.4 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 32 city, 38 highway, 34 combined
0-60: 7.5 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla, Mazda3

The Good
• Good performance from turbocharged engine
• Fun to drive nature
• Attractive design inside and outside
• Good value for the money

The Bad
• Too much road noise

The Ugly
• Blindspot monitoring omitted from safety suite