Sharp looks, a great cabin, lots of tech and solid performance keep the new Honda Civic at the front of the pack.
When the 10th-generation Honda Civic debuted in late 2015, it made a big splash. It was super stylish, especially compared to previously dull Civic designs, and had the comfort and refinement to match. Even today the 10th-gen Civic is still one of the best compact sedans around. But after a six-year run, a new and improved 11th-generation Civic is here, with fresh styling, a thoroughly reworked cabin, fancy new tech and better on-road chops.
The 11th-generation Civic adopts a more mature design that isn't drastically different from its predecessor, which isn't a bad thing at all. The fast roofline remains, while the body wears more defined and less curvy lines.
The new Civic's A-pillars have been pulled back roughly 2 inches to elongate the hood and the beltline is now lower, providing more side glass for better outward visibility, and giving the back quarter an almost Audi-like appearance. I do miss the outgoing car's shapelier and more distinctive rear end, though, as the new one looks soft by comparison.
For the most part, the changes to the outside of the Civic are evolutionary, but it's a whole different story inside. While the old car's cabin is packed full of curves and layers that look a bit dated now, the new Civic's interior is simple and handsome. A horizontal dash design brings a much cleaner ambience with a piece of real metal honeycomb trim running the length of the dash. In addition to being nice visual jewelry, it also hides the air vents to further declutter things.
Honda also drastically stepped things up in the Civic's fit-and-finish department. On this range-topping Touring model, the dash and door panels are wrapped in soft-touch materials, the hard plastics are nicely grained, every switch feels robust and there's textured, fingerprint-resistant trim on the center console and doors to keep things from getting smudgy. This would be my pick for the best and highest-quality interior in the class if it weren't for the Mazda3 and its crazy-nice confines.
The Civic's front seats are new, providing support in all the right places, and they remain comfy over long hauls with an acceptable amount of side bolstering to keep riders in place. Front and rear passengers have plenty of space, with measurements for head-, shoulder- and hiproom all improving over the old Civic. There's no shortage of places to stash things, either, with lots of space in the door panels and large center armrest compartment, which is much better than the previous tiered setup. To haul stuff, the Touring model has a serviceable 14.4 cubic feet (14.8 in every other trim) of space in its trunk. If you need to move longer items, the rear 60/40 seatbacks easily unlatch with trunk-mounted levers and flip forward.
The range-topping Touring gets all of Honda's available bells and whistles, like a 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster, stellar-sounding 12-speaker Bose audio setup and responsive 9-inch infotainment touchscreen. There's also onboard navigation with real-time traffic information, Bluetooth and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. It all works as advertised with nice physical controls and intuitive menus, with the only hiccup being a noticeably longer bootup period for the multimedia tech.
Non-Touring Civics come with a few less goodies. The gauge cluster is just partially digital with a small driver information screen, the center infotainment display measures 7 inches, you only get 4 or 8 speakers for the audio system depending on trim and CarPlay and Android Auto require a wired connection. Disappointingly, no matter what Civic model you get, a Wi-Fi hotspot is not available.
Every new Civic receives a substantial list of standard safety tech. The Honda Sensing suite comes with forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist and updated adaptive cruise control. New for 2022 are traffic jam assist and traffic sign recognition. EX and Touring trims benefit from standard-issue blind-spot monitoring, too.
Driving the latest Civic is a familiar experience. EX and Touring models are powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged I4 like before, making a little more power for 2022. Horsepower increases by 6 for 180 total and torque grows by 15 for 177 pound-feet. A massaged continuously variable transmission sends power to the front wheels and helps return an EPA-estimated 31 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway in the Touring.
Base LX and Sport trims, on the other hand, get a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated I4 making the same 158 hp and 138 lb-ft as before, paired with a CVT. A brief drive of the Sport reveals adequate power for pulling away from stoplights and expressway merging, but if you have the means, you won't regret stepping up to the turbo. Sadly for manual gearbox fans, the Civic sedan drops this option, but Honda announced there's one coming in the hatchback and that the three-pedals will be exclusive to the performance-minded Si and Type R.
In the turbocharged Touring, acceleration is brisk, and noticeably livelier with sport mode activated. The Civic gained more than 100 pounds in its 11th generation, but it in no way feels heavier. As for the CVT, it isn't bad at all, generally humming along and doing a nice job simulating gear changes.
Dynamically, the Civic is a touch tighter and more composed than before thanks to some added body stiffening as well as suspension and steering upgrades. Turn-in for corners is snappy with satisfying heft in the steering wheel, while body roll is controlled and there's a healthy amount of grip from the 18-inch Goodyear Eagle Sport all-season tires.
After driving the new Civic back to back with the outgoing car, one thing that really stands out is the steering. In the 2022 model, there's greater feedback without unnecessary chatter over bumps and ruts. The brakes are also really nice with a firm pedal offering easy modulation of clamping power for confident stopping.
The ride quality is smooth with the Civic's suspension easily soaking up small impacts, though bigger ones are definitely felt inside the cabin. None of this is harsh, however, and long drives in the Civic will be a snap. For the most part, the cabin stays hushed from unwanted rackets like wind noise, but a hint of tire noise does seep in.
For my Civic sedan build, I'd resist the urge to get the Touring and save some loot and go for an EX, which begins at $25,695 with destination. This way, I'd get the more powerful turbocharged engine and blind-spot monitoring, which are must-haves. Not having the fully digital gauge cluster and Bose audio is a bummer, but neither are items I'd miss terribly.
The 2022 Honda Civic sedan is on sale now with base pricing ranging from $22,695 (including $995 for destination) for the base LX to $29,295 for the full-zoot Touring. The base car represents a $450 increase compared to the 2021 model, but the Touring's price carries over unchanged, which is a pleasant surprise given all the new content.
Without a doubt, the new Civic's more mature outer appearance, updated interior and performance refinements keep it right up at the front of the compact sedan class. The new car picks up where the old one left off, and that definitely isn't a bad thing.