Great Expectations: 2022 Honda Civic Sport
Review of the 2022 Honda Civic Sport 2.0 by The Road Beat. Words and photos by Mitchell Weitzman.
What is it?
Honda's 2 for 2 with their new Civic. After being thoroughly impressed by the flagship Touring sedan earlier this summer, the far cheaper 'Sport' model retains the core values that make this compact sedan so superb in the segment. It's an economy car with so few compromises as to even make economy cars genuinely desirable. This 'Sport' model sits in the middle of Civic hierarchy for now, being the second cheapest after the LX, which comes it at $22,915 with destination. The Sport adds another $1,400 to include pretty 18" wheels, paddle shifters, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and proximity-sensing exterior door locks. This Sport 'sports' a cume total of $25,877 with options and destination, most notably a HPD (Honda Performance Development) exterior package for added visual tension (which it does successfully).
Like the prior Civic Touring I drove, the biggest selling point perhaps of this Civic is how damn good it drives. All the controls are intuitive; exactly how a car should feel. Steering it through bends, whether just a freeway onramp, or a winding section of back-roads, you can't help but feel in complete command and filled with confidence. The steering-wheel, itself tactile and comfortable in its well-wrapped leather, feels just right in the hands, and the rate of response is direct and linear to a fantastic degree. Seriously, most sports cars don't have steering this good.
Likewise, handling is a strong point with a front-end that is willing to change direction to your every input and the whole chassis has a wonderful sense of balance to it. No punishing understeer here like from other economy cars. This is very much a driver's car at heart disguised as a sensible and affordable car. The only car that is as good is Mazda's superlative 3 (though, I've only tried fully-optioned Mazda 3s and never a cheap base model). Corollas and Elantras are good, but the Civic is able to show off just how well-engineered and, dare I say it, soulful it really is when compared back-to-back.
The looks have worn well on my eyes, as I continue to appreciate the simple elegance of the new Civic's shape and details. I like how it looks low and stretched out, much closer to a rear-wheel drive sedan than a front-driver. Notice how low the hood actually is. The rear three-quarter view is best, with it showcasing the sloping roofline and rear haunches. I know others will miss the, er, 'excitingness' of the prior editions aesthetics, but not me. This new, grown-up class is a great starting point. The HPD options add little black spoilers and side skirts here and there and make for an aggressive, yet restrained attitude. I do recommend it for the looks alone.
Fuel economy for the week with this Civic were expectedly good, recording an average of 33 MPG and 41 MPG on the highway, but that is strangely less than I achieved in the Touring model with its more powerful 1.5L turbocharged engine. This unit is half a liter larger, sure, but I had hoped it would produce a little better given the lack of power we'll come to next.
Performance is not hot. In fact, performance doesn't really exist with the Civic's naturally-aspirated 2.0 inline-four. While the 1.5T-powered Touring did 0-60 MPH in 7.6 seconds, this Sport model took an aging 9.5 seconds. I swear all three endings of The Return of the King take less time than this Civic requires to reach 60 MPH. The startling fact, though, is when you learn that the turbo'd Touring only makes 22 more horsepower and 39 more torques, which isn't that much powerful, to knock off two whole seconds. It might be rated at 158 horsepower in this form, but it felt more like 130 at best. So, if you want speed, get your Civic with the fab 1.5-liter turbo instead.
The interior space is greatly improved over the 10th-generation Civic, but I do think there are just a few too many plastics inside. The counterpoint, however, is that the build quality is typical Honda-brilliant, with no rattles whatsoever. Plastic, yes, but it's basically ballistic-grade at least. The design of the interior is restrained and bordering industrial (as is the home interior design trend these days) with the grate along the center of the dash. I do like the environment's design, but just would say for the price some pieces could be a little better.
After that, there is very very little to dislike about the Civic. Even the CVT transmission, a type that can be so repulsive in other cars past and present, works perfectly fine. It's a car that comes with great expectations and meets nearly all of them.
The best affordable sedan?
Probably. It looks nicer than the competition and is well-made. The number one concern is the disappointing performance, which most buyers won't care about. The price is still affordable, but Civics aren't as cheap as I remember them from years past. For example, a loaded-up Elantra will only set you back only another grand, and the Elantra N Line I recently tried, with its hot 200-horsepower and dual-clutch transmission, cost the exact same. As it may be, though, the Civic drives nicer and has a better interior than that Elantra N Line did. Want some real spark to your Civic? The new Si was just announced with 200-horsepower of its own. It'll likely be sensational, especially with its six-speed manual transmission. I'm ready for it.
2022 Honda Civic Sport
Price as-tested $25,877
Pros: Pleasing looks and quality; economical; great steering and handling
Cons: Slow. Really, really slow.
Verdict: Reaffirming the Civic as the most popular and one of the best compact sedans.