Thecontinues to set the bar for compact sedans. Extremely well-rounded and just plain easy to like, the Civic offers a whole lot of car for not a lot of money. And in the case of this Civic Sport, I'm talking less than $25,000.
- Handsomely styled inside and out
- Competent on-road manners
- Plenty of standard driver-assistance tech
- Priced under $25,000
- 2.0-liter engine is sluggish.
- Least-efficient Civic in the lineup
- Rudimentary infotainment tech
Slotting just above the base Civic LX, the Sport starts at $24,095 including $995 for destination. This specific test car has a few exterior accessories from the Honda Performance Development catalog, including some underbody trim, a decklid spoiler and black badges, all of which add $1,562 to the Civic's bottom line. Me? I'd leave 'em on the table -- especially that huge, tacky HPD badge to the right of the license plate.
Even without the HPD add-ons, the Civic Sport is an attractive little four-door. While base Civics get 16-inch wheels and the midrange EX has 17s, the Sport has gloss black 18-inch alloys with 235/40-series all-season tires. LED headlights and taillights are standard, and the Sport has gloss-black mirror caps and a chrome exhaust tip, making it look pretty upscale, despite being the second-cheapest trim in the Civic range. I know a lot of people call the new Civic's design boring, but I think it'll age really well.
Inside, the Sport is super handsome; I love the new Civic's minimalist approach to interior design. The vent controls have nice weight to their action and click into a central position (great for my OCD), and the mesh insert that runs the length of the dash neatly hides the air vents. The steering wheel controls are easy to operate while driving and the buttons on the center console are neatly and logically arranged. This isn't an interior that'll wow you with snazzy touches, but it's clearly designed to be durable over the long haul, putting a greater emphasis on comfort and convenience than outright glitz and glamour.
Head- and legroom are ample for front-seat passengers, and the Civic's low beltline, long windshield and thin pillars (a welcome trait from older Hondas) lend to excellent outward visibility. There's plenty of space for folks in the rear, with large enough door openings to make getting in and out curbside a cinch, and everyone's luggage will fit just fine in the 14.8-cubic-foot trunk, though if you're concerned about cargo space, maybeis more your jam.
The one downside to the Civic Sport is that you can't get all of the Touring's best tech. Like the base LX and midrange EX, the Civic Sport has a 7-inch color touchscreen multimedia system, with a rudimentary infotainment package that's... well, it's fine. Wired connections forand are standard, thankfully, even if it looks decidedly dinky on that 7-inch display. The Civic Touring's larger 9-inch screen isn't available, nor is its wireless smartphone pairing. You can't get Honda's cool new 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster, either, though LX, Sport and EX trims do have a 7-inch, left-side screen in the instrument panel, which defaults to a tachometer but can show all sorts of pertinent info instead.
The good news is that the Sport doesn't skimp on driver-assistance technologies, with lane-keeping assist, full-speed adaptive cruise control and Honda's Traffic Jam Assist that combines the aforementioned functions fitted to every Civic as standard. Automatic high-beams, a rear seat reminder and traffic sign recognition are also included, though weirdly, blind-spot monitoring doesn't become available until you step up to the Civic EX, and the Touring adds cross-traffic monitoring to that functionality, as well.
Arguably the biggest difference between the Civic Sport and other models is what's under the hood. Like the base LX, the Sport uses Honda's naturally aspirated 2.0-liter I4, with 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. This engine is kind of pokey, though the continuously variable transmission is refined and well behaved, fading into the background most of the time.
Really, the only thing sporty about this Civic is its name. The Sport is mechanically identical to other Civic models, so don't get your hopes up if you're looking for a sharp-driving sedan. That's not to say the Civic Sport is in any way unpleasant, however -- it has nicely weighted and responsive steering, a composed chassis and confident braking. It won't out-handle a Mazda3, but the Civic is more entertaining than a Nissan Sentra or Subaru Impreza and more comfortable and solid-feeling than a Hyundai Elantra or Toyota Corolla.
Interestingly, the Sport is the least-efficient Civic sedan, estimated to return 30 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined. In mixed use during a week of driving in Los Angeles, I saw 32 mpg. That's not horrible, but it also isn't great when you consider the Civic's optional turbocharged engine -- available in the EX and Touring sedans -- is not only more powerful, but more efficient, too. The Civic EX ups those EPA ratings to 33 mpg city, 42 mpg highway and 36 mpg combined.
The real sporty Civic is the upcoming, which not only has the 1.5-liter turbo engine, but can be had with a six-speed manual transmission for maximum on-road fun. Of course, Honda's also working on proper of the 11th-generation Civic, so stay tuned.
As for the 2022 Civic Sport, it earns high marks for its competent on-road manners, spacious and nicely appointed interior, high level of standard tech and handsome style -- all for under $25,000. Not many other new cars offer that kind of value, making the new Civic nicely poised to hold onto its benchmark crown for years to come.