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Verdict

9.6 / 10

Few vehicles on sale today need less of an introduction than the  Honda Civic. If you haven’t owned Honda’s poster child vehicle, then you at least know someone who has. Now in its 11th generation, the 2022 Civic puts a new spin on the formula that Honda has perfected for decades.

Unlike its predecessor, the new Civic doesn’t go out of its way to be in your face, but instead asks you to recognize that it’s done some growing up. Despite sharing a ton beneath the sheetmetal in common with the previous generation, there are enough thoughtful changes going on to make it feel like an all-new car. A step sideways in exterior looks, a huge step forward with interior technology, the new Honda Civic is an overall win.

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2022 Honda Civic: First Drive Review
2022 Honda Civic: First Drive Review

Same Bones, New Skin

The previous Civic was anything but neutral. From the base trim LX sedan all the way up the wild Type R hatchback, the Civic dialed up the volume on exterior design – and not everyone loved that. This time around, Honda went in a completely different direction, opting for a look that it calls “clean and simple.” We call it boring, but maybe we should save judgment until the upcoming performance versions hit the market.

It’s remarkable how different the new Civic looks from the car that it replaces, considering how it rides on the same platform. The wheelbase is up 1.4 inches, there’s a 0.5-inch wider rear track, and the front fender sits one inch lower than before. But with the dramatic change in shape from the windshield forward, the car now looks substantially lower and wider.

This time around, Honda went in a completely different direction, opting for a look that it calls “clean and simple.” We call it boring.

Honda kept the body surfacing neat and tidy, with one sharp character line that runs almost the entire length of the car, but that’s it. Step around to either the front or the back and it’s downright easy to mistake the Civic for its bigger sibling the Accord. But even with stylish new headlight and taillight designs, along with classy design touches like a horizontal front grille piece and the door-mounted side mirrors (which move from the A pillar on last year’s car), we can’t get over how dull this car looks.

Honda still offers a Civic Sport trim that comes stacked with fantastic stylistic upgrades and plenty of black detailing to make the car seem more aggressive. Getting to spend time shooting photos of a Sport trim, we think it looks much better than the Touring trim, and it’s roughly $5,000 cheaper too, albeit with less equipment. Honda expects the Sport to be the volume seller and we can see why.

2022 Honda Civic: First Drive Review
2022 Honda Civic: First Drive Review
2022 Honda Civic: First Drive Review
2022 Honda Civic: First Drive Review

Granted Wishes And Great Tech

Where clean and simple didn’t do much for the car’s exterior, it’s a home run in the cabin. We love the main design element, a large horizontal stretch of metal with neat honeycomb detailing that hides the HVAC vents. Directly below that sits a trio of metallic knobs that offer a satisfying click when you turn them left and right.

We pressed on the door panels and feel the textured soft plastic on the dash in an attempt to find an obvious place where they saved money, but it’s not easy. Honda even fitted the center console with a plastic material that resists fingerprints, knowing that it’s an area where customers will touch often. This type of clever thinking shows how well the company knows the segment.

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Cabin space remains mostly the same as the previous-generation car, which isn’t a shock considering the shared platform. Headroom improves by less than an inch for both front and rear passengers to 37.6 and 37.1, respectively. Meanwhile, legroom remains the exact same as before: 42.3 inches up front and 37.4 inches in the back. The Hyundai Elantra beats the Civic with 40.6 and 37.3 inches of headroom and is essentially tied with space for your legs. This segment of vehicle isn’t the best for taller folks, but those of average or above average stature will find enough room.

We had two major complaints about the old Civic’s interior: the infotainment was a total pain and the audio system sounded like garbage. Though we can assure you that we were not present for any planning meetings on this new car, the folks at Honda heard us loud and clear – this new tech suite is a massive improvement.

In practice, this new infotainment setup is high-class, recalling Audi’s latest MMI with big, easy-to-follow apps on the home screen.

The Civic’s tech suite is split up into two offerings. Lower trims like the entry-level LX and Sport come standard with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, which rests atop the dash alongside a partially digital set of gauges. The upper two trims, EX and Touring, sweeten the deal with a 9.0-inch touchscreen and a full-digital 10-inch instrument cluster. All new Civics come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though the bigger touchscreen offers wireless connectivity.

In practice, this new infotainment setup is high-class, recalling Audi’s latest MMI with big, easy-to-follow apps on the home screen. And for any current Civic owner that desperately wishes for a volume knob, that comes standard on every trim, too. You’ll be using it often because the optional Bose audio system is great here just like it is in other compact sedans like the Mazda3. Hop in, drop your phone on the wireless charging pad, wirelessly stream your music through Spotify, and turn up the volume. It’s a simple indulgence, but one that makes the new Civic feel that much more premium.

2022 Honda Civic: First Drive Review
2022 Honda Civic: First Drive Review

A Solid Foundation

From behind the wheel, we’re excited to report that the 2022 Civic continues the trend of being a simple, fun driver’s car. In even better news, the standard car feels like a fantastic foundation for the forthcoming Si and Type R models to build on.

Powering the new Civic is a standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet, which comes on the entry level LX and Sport trims. An upgraded turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder comes with EX and Touring trims, producing a healthy 180 hp and 177 lb-ft. If that all sounds familiar, it’s because both engines carry over from the prior car with near-identical power figures.

From behind the wheel, we’re excited to report that the 2022 Civic continues the trend of being a simple, fun driver’s car.

We spent our day interacting with the turbocharged unit, which remains a great little powertrain to work with. As before, there’s a decent bit of turbo lag before the juice comes on, but once on the move, the 180 ponies on offer feel like plenty for everyday driving. There is also a minor gain in fuel economy, with the new Civic achieving 31 city, 38 highway, and 34 combined – 1-mpg improvements around town and overall.

Honda is leaving the manual transmission option to the performance versions, so a CVT is the only way to go on the standard CIvic. It hardly disrupts the driving experience though, rarely hanging revs or exhibiting any bad manners.

To put it plainly, this Civic had better steering feel than the 2021 Acura TLX Type S that we drove to the Honda event. While that’s not such great news for the Type S, it’s a big win for the H-badged sedan, which provided surprisingly great feedback as we chucked it through the canyons of Malibu, California. We also gave high marks to the chassis tuning, which felt tidy when pushed but didn’t come across as too stiff, like the Toyota Corolla.

In many ways, this Civic feels like an improved road trip car, too. In addition to the kick-ass Bose audio system and fancier cabin, the standard Honda Sensing suite of safety gear now comes with a wide-angle front camera and improved processing power. During our thorough test across rush hour LA freeways, the adaptive cruise control felt smarter than before, with less lateral movement in the lane thanks to improved lane-centering tech.

2022 Honda Civic: First Drive Review
2022 Honda Civic: First Drive Review

Simply Better Than Before

Making things even more appealing is the pricing, which doesn’t increase dramatically despite the gains in new equipment and technology. The 2022 Civic starts at $21,700 for the entry-level LX, while the more attractive Sport trim asks $23,100. Stepping up to the EX adds the more powerful engine and some other features for $24,700, while the loaded Touring model checks in at $28,300. That’s more expensive than the Toyota Corolla, which tops out at $25,925 and roughly even with a comparable Mazda3, which starts at $27,000.

With the 10th-generation Civic selling in such high numbers, Honda didn’t have to do much to make this newer car a winner. We’d argue that the exterior design definitely leaves us wanting more, but just about everything else is a massive step forward, so much so that it’s our new favorite car in the class. The new Civic goes on sale today, with the hatchback, Si, and Type R models to follow in the coming months.

Civic Sedan Competitor Reviews:

Gallery: 2022 Honda Civic: First Drive Review

2022 Honda Civic Touring Sedan

Engine Turbocharged 1.5-Liter I4
Output 180 Horsepower/ 177 Pound-Feet
Transmission Continuously Variable
Drive Type Front-Wheel Drive
Efficiency 31 City/38 Highway/ 34 Combined
Weight 3,077 Pounds
Seating Capacity 5
Cargo Volume 14.4 Cubic Feet
Base Price TBD
Trim Base Price $28,300
As-Tested Price TBD
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