The 2022 Honda Civic Sedan: Clean Lines, More Tech and a Focus on Driving
The 2022 Civic takes a page from the past with a clean design and a minimalist cabin. Let’s hope the driving matches up.
It's a car that will already look familiar to those who saw the prototype Honda released last year or that picture it released a couple of weeks ago, but, at last, here it is in full. Say hello to the 11th-generation 2022 Honda Civic, and prepare to see these absolutely everywhere.
So, the highlights: For better or worse, the new Civic sedan's design is massively toned-down compared to the previous car's controversial wedge look. That's pleased some and upset others, just like the minimalist interior previewed earlier this week that emphasizes simplicity above all else. Where Honda claims it hasn't shown restraint is the driving dynamics, going so far as to claim the redesigned chassis and better engine tuning will make this the most fun-to-drive Civic ever. A bold claim if you've ever heard one, but if we're talking an apples to apples comparison of base Civics, the bones here have potential—and definitely a pitfall or two.
Just a quick word about the styling before we get into the rest of the car, since we've seen enough of it already in leaks and previews to know how people feel about it. But keep this in mind as you look at the pictures: despite appearances, the new Civic is almost exactly the same size as the current car. It's a bit longer, but the overall width and height are the same. It hasn't succumbed to model bloat.
[Editor's note: I was able to check out the 2022 Honda Civic in person at a preview event last week, and while I'm a fan of the design, I do think it comes across better in person, namely because the smaller size of the car is more apparent and things feel more proportional. -- EIC Kyle Cheromcha]
The Civic Cleans House
The new Honda compact's cockpit, if you haven't already heard, goes back to basics with an interior design philosophy that pledges to put driving first. A decidedly straightforward cabin (emphasis on straight) features simple, boxy shapes inspired by interiors of the old, original Civics. Thin A-pillars, a low cowl, equally low beltlines, as well as side mirrors moved onto the door all combine to provide great visibility for the driver and an airy environment for passengers.
HVAC vents are hidden in thin strip of honeycomb mesh that spans the dash, materials were chosen with hiding fingerprints and smudges in mind, and Honda has even cut down on the number of lines and gaps that appear in the top of the dash to minimize the number of reflections in the windshield. The automaker says this focus on simplicity and cleanliness is a sign of what to expect from future Hondas.
As much as Honda might've been tempted to saddle the inside of this car with a featureless, non-reflective slab and call it a day, it wouldn't be much of a modern car if it didn't come with modern amenities and the 2022 Civic has quite a bit of those. A seven-inch infotainment screen is standard while a big nine-inch unit hooked up to a 12-speaker Bose audio system comes on the Touring trim. Both feature Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a volume knob while the smaller unit benefits from a tuning knob as well. The touchscreens also feature a 0.8-inch "finger rest" that presumably makes reaching out and using the screens more comfortable on the hand. It's hard to see what exactly this finger rest entails from the provided pictures but it's weirdly one of the most intriguing parts of this entire car, and I'm irrationally excited to give it a try.
[Editor's note: I was able to try the finger rest and I can confirm that it's delightful to use. It sounds like a small and silly thing—a soft-touch strip that protrudes just below the screen—but it's a huge ergonomic difference to have an anchor for your hand while operating the touchscreen, especially for passengers while the car is moving. -- KC]
A half-digital, Accord-style seven-inch instrument cluster is standard while the Touring receives a fully digital 10.2-inch treatment. Naturally, these displays can be configured to monitor the car's Honda Sensing ADAS functions and the automaker is particularly proud of the fact that the little animated Civic that shows up has functioning brake lights, headlights, and turn signals that turn on and off in tandem with the real car.
[Editor's note: It's really fun to watch, but also kind of pointless. -- KC]
Speaking of Honda Sensing, the system now uses a single, wide-view camera instead of the old camera-and-radar setup. Hooked up to a better processor, the identification of obstacles, road lines, and road signs is said to be faster and more accurate. Traffic Jam Assist is new while Adaptive Cruise features more natural braking and quicker reflexes. Lane Keep has also been made to feel less artificial.
Another appreciated safety enhancement comes in the form of a pair of new front airbags designed to prevent traumatic brain and neck injuries. Not dissimilar to the nifty baseball-glove-shaped airbags first seen on the new Acura TLX and MDX, the Civic gets the new airbags in front of both the driver and passenger while those luxury cars only feature it for the passenger. The driver's airbag is apparently shaped like a donut while the passenger's is a three-chamber design, likely similar to those found in the aforementioned Acuras. For the first time in a Civic, there are also side airbags for the rear passengers.
Enough about touchscreens and airbags, though. You're probably curious as to what Honda has done when it comes to how this new Civic will drive. Well, par for the new sedan course, ride and handling is claimed to have been improved while powerplants have been carried over, albeit tweaked for the better.
The Most Fun-to-Drive Civic Ever? We'll See About That
Like the outgoing model, the 2022 Civic is available with one of two engines. First, a 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder on the LX and Sport that makes 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. Those power and torque figures are the same as last year but the 2.0-liter has apparently been made more fuel-efficient thanks to a new cat converter, start/stop system, and a revised CVT.
Yes, a CVT, which will also be the transmission attached to the 1.5-liter turbo-four that comes on the EX and Touring. This smaller, boosted motor gets 180 hp and 177 pound-feet of torque, up six hp and 15 pound-feet from before. More efficient turbo plumbing and VTEC in the exhaust valves improve this engine's fuel economy.
On average, the 2022 Civic is about one mpg more efficient than the 2021 version across all models and driving situations. Honda is also claiming better power delivery, sound, and refinement for both mills but sadly made no mention of a manual transmission option on this regular, non-Si/Type R Civic.
In terms of ride and handling, an eight percent increase in torsional rigidity and 13 percent higher bending rigidity make this the most rigid Civic chassis in the model's history. New low-friction front ball joints, front damper mount bearings, and a retuned electronic power steering system offer more feedback and straight-line stability while new, bigger bushings in the rear cut down on NVH and further improve the way the new Civic moves. The rear track is also 0.5 inches wider. It all results in what Honda claims to be the most fun-to-drive Civic ever. That's a pretty bold claim, especially with a CVT, and we're real curious to see how this car lives up to the legacy set by its front-driving forefathers.
While the Civic Sedan will continue to be produced in Alliston, Ontario, production of the upcoming Hatchback—yes, a hatch is coming—will move from the shuttered Swindon, U.K. plant to Greensburg, Indiana. On the subject of future variants, expect Si and Type R versions of this car (the latter is rumored to boast an electric rear axle) to join the party soon.
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