Back where it belongs
THE GOOD
  • Fantastic cabin
  • Improved powertrain
  • Nice ride quality
THE BAD
  • A little pricey
  • Touchy adaptive cruise

In many ways, the 2022 Honda Civic marks a return to glory for a small sedan that’s really come to define the segment over the years.

Not that the outgoing version was a bad car, but its timing certainly was. Its launch some six years ago put it at the forefront of the touchscreen infotainment and advanced safety features that were only beginning to make their way into this affordable class of cars. It was all modern – for the time, at least – but then virtually every other entry got the same treatment, and the Civic suddenly felt outdated.

In fact, it wasn’t long ago that this very author declared that the overhauled Hyundai Elantra was “by far the best in its class,” and it was. Then the 2022 Honda Civic arrived to reclaim its place at the top of the pack.

Styling: 10/10

There’ll be no confusing this 11th-gen Civic for the one that came before it, and that’s good news. Shades of the larger Accord are all over this car, right down to the notched shape of the rear quarter glass behind the back doors. It’s a mature look, that’s for sure, and it recaptures some of the Civic’s anonymity that was lost in recent years.

Inside is where the wow factor is found, with the leather-lined confines of this top Touring trim in particular looking as if it wouldn’t be out of place in a premium car. Simple items like the honeycomb mesh spanning the dash, with little handles poking through to control the HVAC vents, or the trio of textured dials for temperature and fan speed add an upscale air not found elsewhere in the segment.

User Friendliness: 10/10

Of course, the infotainment display that’s seemingly stuck to the top of the dashboard is a focal point, but not in everyday driving. Spanning nine inches here (the rest of the lineup gets a seven-inch unit), the touchscreen does nothing to hinder outward visibility, which is superb in all directions. The screen sits low enough that the driver can look across the dash and hood from a proper seating position without the need to stretch and strain.

The infotainment interface itself is vastly improved over the previous version, using an evolution of the Accord’s system that adds programmable shortcut icons that span the bottom of the display. While they’re hidden when using Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, they provide quick access to various functions without the need to navigate to the home screen first. Should that need arise while using those phone-mirroring systems, doing so is simple thanks to the physical buttons beside the screen, along with a volume knob and audio tune buttons.

The remaining controls are equally as easy to understand, with a full set of switchgear on the steering wheel, and a conventional gear selector on the centre console along with some others like a rocker for drive mode selection. It’s a rare blend of simplicity and sophistication that makes the Civic stand out from the rest of the segment.

Practicality: 9/10

Climbing inside is easy, with wide door openings all around and generous space inside for the segment. There’s just enough headroom up front for this author’s 6-foot-3 frame to fit with the sunroof that comes on all but the base trim, though cabin width is superior to others in the segment, including the Toyota Corolla that’s long been the Civic’s foe. Likewise, there’s more headroom in the back than what the Corolla offers despite them sharing identical numbers on their spec sheets.

Where the Civic has those and others beat both on paper and in practice is around back, with its 419-L trunk narrowly edging the Elantra (402 L) and Corolla (371 L), as well as the much improved Nissan Sentra (405 L). The Civic Touring, meanwhile, makes do with 408 L due to its stereo system’s subwoofer. More than just a numbers game, the trunk is deep and wide, and while the lid’s hinges are exposed, they don’t swing down into the cargo area as far as others in the segment.

Comfort: 9.5/10

The 2022 Civic exhibits excellent road manners, with a comfortable ride that’s reasonably well hushed from outside interference. While the Corolla retains the segment’s ride quality crown, particularly in hybrid guise, this overhauled entry does well to smoothly cruise over bumps and broken pavement.

The front seats are also worthy of a special shoutout for their comfort and support. With eight-way power adjustment, the leather-lined driver’s chair in this Touring model gobbled up hours of driving with little complaints. Its bolsters are wide, while the three-stage heat that’s standard across the lineup works quickly.

Driving Feel: 10/10

Make no mistake – the previous Civic was good. But where that version still felt very much like an economy car, this is a fine impersonation of a premium one. The car itself has some serious substance to it, eschewing the tin-toy vibe typical of the segment. It’s not that the 2022 Civic is especially heavy, tipping the scales at 1,371 kg (3,023 lb) in Touring trim; but it feels solid and planted while managing to carve tight lines when prodded.

While of the by-wire variety, the steering system doesn’t feel over-boosted despite its progressive heft. Brake feel, too, is pleasant and progressive as the car comes to a stop with confidence. While it’s no sport compact, this run-of-the-mill model provides a promising foundation for the forthcoming Civic Si.

Power: 9/10

The Touring trim’s turbocharged engine is one Honda’s been using for a number of years now, with slight revisions this time around. Output from the 1.5L four-cylinder has been bumped up, with 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque – increases of six hp and 15 lb-ft of torque. Likewise, the transmission has been tweaked for improved performance and refinement, and it’s noticeable.

While other applications of this combination – including the previous Civic – behave in a buzzy and strained manner, it’s far more mild-mannered here while simultaneously feeling peppier than before. Now, this is still a continuously variable transmission (CVT) paired with a turbocharged four-cylinder, and as such it does generate quite a bit of racket under heavy throttle; but at least now it’s accompanied by a good bit of pull. And, as an added bonus, the Civic’s new sport mode cranks up throttle response when required.

Fuel Economy: 8/10

Fuel consumption is competitive for the class, with the turbo motor rated for 7.6 L/100 km in the city, 6.1 on the highway, and 6.9 combined. The naturally aspirated 2.0L that powers the rest of the Civic sedan lineup is good for the same combined number, which is slightly worse than the Elantra’s but a little better than the Corolla’s. In real-world testing, the 2022 Honda Civic Touring turned in combined consumption of 5.8 L/100 km over the course of a 240-km evaluation drive, while the full week covered some 600 km and finished at 6.7 L/100 km.

Features: 9/10

Not much sets the Civic apart from the competition in terms of features, but then it’s not missing anything, either. Heated front seats are standard, as are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connections, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, an eight-speaker stereo, proximity key entry with push-button start, and automatic climate control.

Upgrades from there include a heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate, sunroof, and alloy wheels. The Touring trim, meanwhile, adds a 12-speaker stereo, heated rear seats, a nine-inch infotainment system, wireless phone-mirroring, a wireless phone charger, satellite radio, and a full digital instrument cluster.

Safety: 9/10

Honda has for years included an impressive array of advanced safety features in every Civic in Canada, so it should come as no surprise that the trend continues here. Of course, this being a new model, the stuff inside this 2022 model has been made better than before. The automaker says the camera behind the windshield that works with many of the standard functions – forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking; lane-departure warning and keeping assist; adaptive cruise control; and traffic sign recognition – has a wider field of view than before, while the braking and steering responses have been made to feel more natural with adaptive cruise control engaged.

That certainly seemed to be the case during testing; and the forward collision warning wasn’t nearly as sensitive as Honda’s systems typically are. The adaptive cruise was a little quick to apply the brakes with traffic ahead, however, and it isn’t quite as smooth as some other modern systems like Nissan’s.

Other standard safety equipment includes 10 airbags throughout the cabin, including ones up front designed to cradle an occupant’s head, and a back-up camera that’s mandated by the federal government (and its resolution is far superior to other Honda vehicles, though it’s still poor after dark). There’s also sensor-based blind-spot monitoring, though interestingly, only the Touring trim pairs it with rear cross-traffic alert. The top trim also gets low-speed reverse automatic braking and rain-sensing wipers that are absent elsewhere.

Value: 8/10

Dollar for dollar, the 2022 Civic isn’t especially affordable, with its starting price of $26,165 including a non-negotiable freight charge of $1,700 far exceeding those of its competitors. Take the cheapest Hyundai Elantra out there, which is $21,624 before tax with its optional CVT; or the Toyota Corolla that comes to $22,840 with the same type of transmission. (Those same models with manual transmissions are close to $2,000 less, respectively.)

And on it goes across the rest of the lineup, with stops at $28,465 for the EX trim and $29,565 for the Sport. Finally, there’s the Touring trim, a $31,965 car before tax. That’s still more than the asking prices of the most expensive Elantra and Corolla models, though the difference isn’t as significant as it is lower in the lineup. More importantly, it manages to feel like it’s delivering good value despite its expensive price tag, with an upmarket quality that few others in the segment can match.

The Verdict

The 2022 Honda Civic isn’t the same small sedan as before in a lot of ways. This new generation has rather easily settled in back where it belongs: at the top of the segment. It’s not just its newness that got it there, either – though that certainly helps. Modern technology that was previously missing is what makes it competitive, with advanced safety and infotainment that easily counts among the best in the class.

When it comes to the top trim in the lineup, however, there’s a new flair here – a presence and poise that’s far beyond what the Civic was capable of before, not to mention every other entry in the segment. It’s not a premium car, but it’s close in the ways that matter. Its performance is rather ordinary, though that certainly has its appeal. But more importantly, its cabin, ride quality, and amenities make it look and feel like something more than an economy car, all for about the same price as one.

Competitors

Specifications

Engine Displacement 1.5L   Model Tested 2022 Honda Civic Touring
Engine Cylinders Turbo I4   Base Price $30,265
Peak Horsepower 180 hp @ 6,000 rpm   A/C Tax $100
Peak Torque 177 lb-ft @ 1,700–4,500 rpm   Destination Fee $1,700
Fuel Economy 7.6 / 6.1 / 6.9 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb   Price as Tested $32,365
Cargo Space 408 L  
Optional Equipment
$300 – Platinum White Pearl Paint, $300