2022 Honda Civic review - A better form of anonymity
The all-new Honda Civic has arrived. New looks and a new interior have kept it ahead of the game.
I've heard before that one can either choose to be anonymous or interesting. But, is it possible to be both? That's where the new, redesigned Honda Civic comes in, one of the best selling cars of all-time. On one hand, despite the handsome looks, it's quite anonymous, so much so that I had trouble finding it in parking lots. On the contrary, it's such well accomplished and competent transportation that it also becomes very interesting; This should be a boring car, but it's too good to be boring. It might be a cheap and cheerful economy car at its core after all, but it's a very good one and likely the best around.
This all-new Civic sports brand new bodywork and makes for a sharp contrast with the outgoing model's angular and geometric design. Now, I know lots of people really liked the look of the old Civic, but while I enjoyed the adventurous design of it, I also thought it wasn't exactly what you'd call pretty. The new Civic, to my eyes at least, sports a much improved exterior that's softer and more grown-up with an increased elegance to it even. However, it isn't as noticeable anymore to stand out, and I must admit I did in fact have trouble locating this bluish silver tester in parking lots. Not that the old one stood out in a unique way either based on the fact Honda sold several hundred thousand of them a year in the States, making it an increasingly common car. I really really like that the new Civic almost appears rear-wheel drive, with its low and long hoodline and narrow gap between hood and wheel arch. Actually, the whole thing looks quite low and stretched out, making a new Corolla look positively stubby in comparison. I'm quite eager to see how future sporting variants of the Civic turn out; I think the SI and (hopefully) Type R have amazing ground work to build from. This Touring model also came with rather attractive 18" alloy wheels.
The aesthetic revamp continues inside, where this Touring model (the highest tier for now) boasts a smashing interior; Practical, spacious, and incredibly well made are what came to mind after spending a week together. For costing a shade under $30,000 (admittedly expensive for a Civic), it's a legitimately nice place to be with soft and stylish materials and elements throughout. I particularly like the the metallic strip that runs the length of the dash for the air vents, looking more like something out of a Mercedes than a Honda. The nicest Mazda 3s are better still, but you'll be paying a small amount more, too, for one. For four adults on a several hundred mile day trip to San Francisco and back, not one of us had any complaints over a lack of space nor comfort, being a great vehicle for the job. The only gripe against comfort is that it isn't the quietest car in the world.
Being a financially economical car price wise, the new Civic is very economical at the pump, too, with its little 1.5L turbocharged inline-four engine. Topping 42 MPG on the highway and averaging 35 MPG, you can go quite far on each dollar of gas. If you want more, you can bet on a hybrid variant to follow, likely to continue being called the Insight.
Driving the new Civic is a simple delight that belies its cheap and cheerful origins. Accurate and keen steering make driving easy and even enjoyable. Handling is impressive, with ample grip for modestly enthusiastic driving, but its the way the nose is so willing to turn and change direction so swiftly and eagerly. The new Corolla had seriously upped its own game in its road manners, but the Civic stays ahead as the driver's choice of the two. Seriously, the steering in the Civic is better than that of most sports cars; that's how good and confidence inspiring it is. When a road turns twisty, you can't be helped resisting increasing the throttle and attacking apexes. With such a talented platform as foundation, upcoming actually fast and potent models are eagerly awaited. Despite its handling chops, ride quality has not been affected, delivering a comfortable and controlled ride in basically all conditions. This is a seriously good car to drive.
For one, this Touring is just maybe too expensive as-tested, if only just. I worry the lower trims won't impress as much on the inside as this, so that'll have to be investigated at a later date. As mentioned earlier, it's not the quietest thing on the road, with audible wind and road noise on the highway, but this is also an affordable car remember, so some compromises in certain are always made. It's not like a Corolla is any quieter, though the last $33,000 Mazda 3 Turbo I tried certainly was, a sizable jump in price.
Honda's 1.5T motor might be frugal, but it lacks any and all punch in terms of performance. At 0-60 MPH in 7.6 seconds, it's actually a hair slower than the outgoing model as last tested by The Road Beat. Not that speed really matters in a car like this, but I was hoping for a larger performance separation between this and Toyota's Corolla with the 2.0L engine (the Civic is definitely faster, but not by that much on the stopwatch). It's one thing to not make gains, but to be slower than the old model did raise a pair of eyebrows. Nevertheless, a decent midrange makes merging onto freeways and passing plenty easy.
After that, there's hardly anything wrong with the Civic. Sure, I wish they went further with modernizing their center display screen. It's improved and larger, but I think others might appreciate something more in-your-face in the age of Tesla's monster screens. But, the screen it does have is competitive in its class, and likely the best to look at and use. I thought the radar cruise control was too intrusive, but I also think every car's radar cruise control is far too incompetent. However, I did notice a couple times where the cruise did slow down for no apparent reason on flat freeway.
Conclusion - Competence and composure
A tremendously accomplished car, the new Civic I think adequately achieves being anonymous, but also interesting. It has understated good looks, a nice interior in this Touring model, and continues to deliver an excellent driving experience. While some will miss the, erm, 'edgy' looks of the former model, many will welcome the new toned down aesthetic and upscale, simple interior. Regardless, I'm sure Honda will sell several hundred thousand of these each year in the United States. And I can see why.
2022 Honda Civic 1.5T Touring
Price as-tested: $29,690
Pros: Improved design in and out, joyful handling, great economy
Cons: Nearly 30 grand for a Civic, no performance increases
Verdict: Probably the most complete and best affordable small sedan there is