The outgoing generation of the Honda Civic had lost a lot of flavour in its final years. Its choppy-lined exterior sprinkled with chrome accents was showing signs of age. And, while ergonomic, the interior was also starting to go out of fashion. However, that did not deter Canadian motorists from showing their affection for this compact by giving it, for the 23rd consecutive year, the title of the best-selling car in the country. Proof that the recipe still has some bite to it.
Being ahead of all your rivals comes with its share of responsibilities. And, with each generational change, the manufacturer is going all in with its hard-earned chips in hopes of retaining the best-selling title. Needless to say, one misstep can cost a brand dearly, so there is no room for error when it comes to the 2022 Honda Civic.
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- Also: New 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback is All Grown Up
The Car Guide team put the vehicle to the test for the first time. Here are our impressions!
Classic Looks, Sleek Interior
The new-generation Honda Civic was unveiled last spring with a more conservative physique reminiscent of certain older generations, while stealing some design cues from the Accord. This more classic and refined philosophy also carried over into the interior, with a dashboard that has traded in its futuristic and somewhat cluttered look for more sober elements. The horizontal layout focuses on width, while providing occupants with a more spacious feel.
Hard plastics remain in this cabin, even in the Touring model. On the other hand, they wrap the interior in a such a discreet way that they give way to the large horizontal mesh band, which is the centrepiece of the Civic interior. The new digital instrument cluster combines the classic gauge look with the modernity and clarity of a screen in a frankly successful way. This element is configurable in the Touring model.
As far as infotainment goes, the nine-inch screen that pops out of the dashboard is easy to access and overall intuitive, with physical buttons to the left and below as a support to access essential functions. Honda has returned to the drawing board and designed new seats. After having spent many long hours sitting in them, we can confirm that the comfort level has been raised by several notches. In fact, while front and back legroom and headroom remained the same as in the outgoing model, hip room gained a few millimetres on both sides. The cargo hold lost a few litres in volume, but only eight or nine litres were sacrificed depending on the variant, which is certainly not a dramatic loss.
Well-Known Powertrains (With a Few Tweaks)
The Honda Civic sedan keeps the previous generation’s powertrains, including the reliable 2.0 L naturally aspirated four-cylinder. This one has received a few technical alterations that lower its fuel consumption, as has the continuously variable transmission that is mated to it.
The turbocharged 1.5 L four-cylinder is also on the menu in the Touring model. This one got a bump in the numbers, with 6 more horsepower for a total of 180, accompanied by an additional 15 lb-ft for a total of 177. Honda states that, despite this increased performance, this unit also leaned out its fuel intake. Who knows, maybe Honda has finally fixed the oil dilution issues, keeping the fuel in the combustion chamber and no longer in the oil pan. This engine is also mated to a CVT. Don’t look for the manual gearbox with the sedan, since it is no longer offered. However, the Civic hatchback, which will be unveiled soon, will continue to offer three-pedal versions.
Still Fun to Drive
Once you get through the “CVT hesitation” upon pounding the accelerator pedal, you can feel the additional pound-feet of torque right away during acceleration in the turbocharged Civic. In addition, this variant does not run out of breath easily on the highway, it rather gradually tapers off at a high rpm.
Handling-wise, the performance is exemplary. The outgoing model was already quite nimble, but the improvements to the chassis and bodywork have paid off in the stiffness department. Coupled with the compelling steering feel and feedback guided by a steering wheel that provides reassuring grip, the Civic convinces us that its ratio of price to smiles in the corners is outrageously hard to beat. However, we didn’t feel there was as much ride comfort improvement as stated by Honda. It seems a little firm, but the compromise is still a winner here.
How Much Does it Cost?
The entry-level LX model starts at $ 24,465 (plus $ 1,700 delivery & PDI), and gets a lineup of standard gear which includes the usual Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 7-inch infotainment system screen and Honda Sensing technologies. For the first time, this base model includes the remote starter, the blind spot information system and the traffic jam assistance. The Touring model we tested was armed with wireless charging and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
While its rivals in the segment drastically reinvented themselves with hybrid models and all-wheel-drive systems, the Civic made compromises such as abandoning its coupe variant and its manual gearbox in the sedan, in addition to dragging some engine issues with the 1.5 L. However, Honda’s success remained unscathed and the 11th generation improvements, although not very gutsy in appearance, offer more than ever in terms of equipment and driving experience. Details regarding the Civic hatchback, Si, and Type R models will arrive later. So far, this compact has every chance of blowing out another 24 candles as Canada's most successful car for another consecutive year.