2021 Auto News

2022 Honda Civic: America’s Top-Selling Small Car Continues To Up Its Game

Credit: forbes.com

For the tenth time since the model first went on sale in 1973, the Honda Civic is undergoing a redesign. The eleventh-generation Civic will bring more tech, improved fuel economy and new safety features for the 2022 model year. It also will expand on its traditional virtues: Honda claims the all-new Civic will offer improved handling, better outward visibility and a simplified interior design.  

Though cars of all types have lost ground to crossovers in the past decade, the Civic is still the best-selling compact car in the U.S., with sales topping 261,000 in 2020, according to MotorIntelligence. “The shift to SUVs has been a bit less pronounced among compact sedans because they occupy the entry level of the marketplace,” says Ed Kim, an analysis for industry research firm AutoPacific. Because of its price, the Civic is very popular with first-time and younger buyers, Kim says.

Although there are fewer compact sedans overall now than there were five years ago, many entries have upped their game, including the new-for-2021 Hyundai Elantra. “Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai are putting a lot of effort into these cars because they understand that while entry-level cars may not be hugely profitable, a good experience will earn a loyal customer,” Kim says. “With the Fit gone, the Civic is the gateway to the Honda family.” Since the existing Civic dates back to 2016, the new model will raise the bar for the whole segment. 

After teasing the public with prototype pictures last year, Honda recently lifted the veil off the new 2022 Civic sedan, released details that quantify the changes as well as information on trim levels, technology and features found under the skin.   

The 2022 Civic sedan will be offered in four trim levels: LX, Sport, EX and Touring. The mid-grade EX-L trim level is gone. The new Civic also is longer, with a wheelbase increase of 1.4 inches and and overall length jump of 1.3 inches. Its width and height remain unchanged. Passenger volume is only fractionally larger at 99.9 cubic-feet (96.6 for the Touring), while trunk space shrinks by 0.3 cubic-feet to 14.8 cubic feet (14.4 for the Touring).  

The 2022 Honda Civic will look a little more like its big brother, the Accord, but its muscular fastback lines also have an identity of their own and are enhanced by a longer and lower hood, increasing visibility in the process. Honda

Simpler and Cleaner Design 

Design-wise, the 2022 model returns to some longtime Civic tenets, particularly the low cowl and hood that maximizes forward visibility. The base of the side windows now lines up with the base of the windshield and the side mirrors are no longer attached to the front pillars for the same reason–both changes aid visibility.

The base of the windshield is moved rearward nearly 2 inches, creating a longer hood and bringing the base of the windshield closer to the driver. That shrinks the size of the dash top, and Honda has simplified its surface to minimize distracting reflections.  

Along with its evolutionary fastback shape, modern elements that put the Civic more in line with the look of the larger Accord include the more upright front grille and all-LED front and rear lighting.  

Honda previewed the Civic’s much-simplified new interior look in a video released earlier this week, and the Civic hints at future interiors from the automaker. Honda calls the new design ethos “Simplicity and Something,” with Honda Interior design lead Jonathan Norman defining the something as personality and character, though the real goal is presenting an uncluttered layout with fewer distractions and less infrequently-used buttons.

The production Civic interior isn’t quite as clean as the sketches presented in the video, but it is a comprehensive reinvention of the model’s dashboard. The long, horizontal dash is reminiscent of cars from the 1960s and even features a retro-looking band of hexagonal mesh that integrates the A/C vents. The infotainment display is perched atop the dash, closer to the driver’s line of sight than in the previous Civic. There are fewer buttons, but physical controls are retained for most basic functions. Overall, it’s a more upscale look than the previous model.

The 2022 Honda Civic’s simplified interior eschews a conventional center stack for a faintly retro horizontal theme, with a mesh band extending all the way across the dash and cleverly disguising the A/C vents. There are fewer buttons and the layout is simpler, but physical controls are retained for many essential functions. Honda

Incremental Engine Improvements 

The 2022 Civic’s powertrains are largely familiar, but Honda claims incremental improvements. As before, the base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. It’s found under the hood of the LX and Sport trim levels. A turbocharged 1.5-liter engine returns to power the upper grades. The turbo engine’s output is nudged up from 174 to 180 horsepower with torque increasing from 174 to 177 pound-feet.  

A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is again the only transmission in the Civic sedan. The current Civic also offers a six-speed manual but only in the hatchback body style. Hopefully the 2022 hatchback will have a manual option for a more engaging drive and to appease enthusiastic drivers. 

While the 2.0-liter’s output is unchanged, it ekes out bigger fuel-economy gains than its turbocharged sibling, at least in the LX. For 2022, the base Civic claims EPA estimates of 31 mpg in city driving and 40 mpg on the highway, increases of 1 and 2 mpg, respectively. The 2022 Civic Sport with the same engine is good for 30 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. The most fuel-efficient Civic variant remains the EX trim level. Its 1.5-liter turbo returns 33 mpg city and 42 mpg highway. In the slightly heavier Touring the same engine delivers 31 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. That’s an increase of 1 mpg city over the current model in both trims.  

The new Civic’s stiffer platform serves as a base for the redesigned suspension. Front suspension elements have been tweaked for give the steering stronger self-centering, while the rear suspension has been revised for improved ride quality. Retuned power steering also promises improved steering feel. 

The modest increases in power in the 2022 Honda Civic’s powertrains may be hard for drivers to detect, but the added fuel-efficiency will be more apparent. Honda also promises improved steering feel, which bodes for a fun experience given that the current Civic is already a keen handler. Honda

Tech Upgrades, Including Better Displays 

On the technology front, the standard adaptive cruise control adds stop-and-go capability, and the Civic now features traffic-sign recognition. A new Low Speed Braking Control, borrowed from the Accord, works at parking-lot speeds and both warns the driver of approaching objects (as do parking sensors) and applies the brakes to avoid a potential collision.  

That system is standard on the Touring trim as is a a digital instrument cluster, which can show a virtual representation of traditional gauges or a bar-graph display. The Touring also comes with wireless device charging (a Civic first) and a new Bose 12-speaker audio system, an upgrade from the unbranded eight-speaker system in the outgoing car.  

The 2022 Civic’s infotainment systems promise much-improved usability. Key elements include the addition of physical buttons for key shortcuts at the base of the display, simplified menus and the return of the tuning knob (in the base system). The puny 5-inch display audio system in the outgoing base car is jettisoned. The LX now joins the Sport and EX trims with a modern 7-inch unit, while the top-spec Touring is upgraded to a new 9-inch display that comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The base system includes wired smartphone mirroring.

All 2022 Honda Civics will feature this clean and modern interior, with at least a 7-inch infotainment display atop the dash and a new fully digital instrument cluster with multiple display settings. Honda

As before, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist are standard. The 2022 Civic adds blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert for the first time, but the former is reserved for the EX and Touring only, while the latter is a Touring exclusive. Some competitors make those features more widely available.  

The arrival of blind spot monitoring also marks the departure of Honda’s LaneWatch system (which showed a helpful camera feed of the right-side blind spot when the turn signal was activated). In other safety news, redesigned front airbags reduce head rotation in frontal offset collisions, and rear-seat side airbags are a new addition.  

Honda is previewing a first look only at its primary Civic lineup in the sedan body style. Still to be revealed is the new Civic hatchback (expected to debut this summer) and the 2022 versions of the sporty Civic Si and racy Civic Type R. Don’t look for a new Civic coupe; that body style was dropped after the 2020 model year.  

Pricing for the 2022 Civic sedan also has yet to be released, though it likely won’t stray far from the 2021 model, which ranges from $22,245 to $29,295, including the $995 destination fee. The 2022 Honda Civic sedan is due to go on sale later in the spring of 2021, with the hatchback to follow this fall.