2022 Honda Civic – New, but… Meh

The 2022 Honda Civic is fully redesigned. Everybody knows the Civic; in the U.S., over 12 million have been sold since 1973. Odds are, if you haven’t owned a Civic yourself, you probably know a dozen friends who have. Here’s what’s new in the Civic for 2022.

Front 3/4 view of the 2022 Honda Civic
Image courtesy of Honda

2022 Honda Civic – Exterior Styling

Styling is all new in the 2022 Civic. If you’re familiar with the latest version of the Civic’s big sister, the Accord, you’ll spot some similarities. But overall, there’s little that stands out about the new Civic design. I always appreciate clean automotive styling, but this veers toward generic and doesn’t stand out from the Nissan Sentras and Subaru Imprezas of the world. The only detail that you might notice, as I did, is the prominent neanderthal-esque brow ridge in the front end styling, above the Honda badge. That styling element likely benefits pedestrian safety though, so I’ll give it a pass.

There’s little resemblance to the previous generation, which has been on sale since the 2015 model year, and I’m okay with that. The previous Civic, especially in hatchback and high-performance Type R trims, was a lot to handle visually. Everywhere you look, there were creases and spoilers and fake vents. Details everywhere, and it was too much. So, I’m pleased to see that Honda has shown some restraint in the 2022 Civic sedan’s styling. Although, Honda has yet to unveil the redesigned Civic Hatchback, sporty Si version, and new Type R. But in my opinion, the new designs of those models can only be an improvement.

2022 Honda Civic – Interior

Like the exterior, the interior styling can best be described as clean in the 2022 Honda Civic. The controls look like they’ll be user-friendly. The only distinguishing element is the metallic grate spanning the dash from door to door, which conceals the air vents. The interior of the previous Civic was definitely attempting to be more stylish, but the new model goes for a far more simple look. And that’s not a knock – there’s an elegance to clean, refined design that I appreciate.

2022 Honda Civic – Powertrain

The engines used in the new Civic sedans are mostly carryovers from the last generation. And that’s fine, because those engines were already acceptably powerful for the class, and fuel-efficient. Both engine choices are paired with an updated version of the previous Civic’s continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The LX and Sport trims will use the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, which makes the same 158 horsepower as last year. Fuel economy is improved thanks to subtle tweaks and the updates to the CVT. In LX trim, the old Civic returned 30 miles per gallon in the city, 38 on the highway, and 33 in combined driving according to the EPA. The 2022 Civic LX increases all three figures to 31, 40, and 35 miles per gallon respectively.

Rear 3/4 view of the 2022 Honda Civic
Image courtesy of Honda

The EX and top Touring trims of the 2022 Honda Civic will use the 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. With this engine, minor changes result in a 6 horsepower increase for a total of 180. Fuel efficiency figures mostly remain the same as last year, although the Civic EX should be the fuel economy champ of the Civic sedan lineup. The EPA expects 33 miles per gallon in the city, 42 on the highway, and 36 combined. That marks a 1 mpg improvement over last year’s city figure. The others are unchanged.

All 2022 Civics will feature two drive modes: Normal and Eco. Eco mode will dull the throttle response and air conditioning to boost fuel efficiency. The Sport and Touring trim add a Sport mode, which will make the car feel more responsive. And, it will turn your gauges red!

Gauge cluster of the 2022 Honda Civic
Image courtesy of Honda

Cool Features & Innovations

There are some new features available for the first time on the Civic, but there isn’t much here that you can’t also find in the competition. Honda touts a few Civic firsts, like standard LED headlights on all trims, and an available digital gauge display, premium Bose sound system, wireless charging pad, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Those are all lovely features, but none are innovative. Most are already available in the compact sedans from other automakers.

Side profile of the 2022 Honda Civic
Image courtesy of Honda

However, I do give Honda credit for continually tweaking safety features. For example, new frontal airbag designs are intended to reduce brain and neck injuries in a crash. The rear seats now feature side impact airbags. Additionally, as for safety technology, updates to Honda’s already excellent Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver assistance systems keep it at the forefront. Honda Sensing is standard on all Civic trims, although you have to upgrade to the EX or Touring for blind spot monitoring.

Rear 3/4 view of the 2022 Honda Civic
Image courtesy of Honda

Tom’s Take

Small and compact cars are dying. Equivalently-priced SUVs and crossovers are their murderer. With the 2022 Honda Civic, I’m skeptical as to whether minimal upgrades to an admittedly already competent entry will be enough to shift this trend. There’s little to get excited about, and the competition gives you more. The Toyota Corolla (especially in sporty SE and XSE trims) delivers a legitimately engaging, fun-to-drive experience and impeccable reliability. The Mazda 3 feels sophisticated, luxurious, and upmarket. The Hyundai Elantra has standout styling (whether you like it or not) and cool technology for reasonable prices. The Subaru Impreza is honest and practical, with standard all-wheel drive.

The Civic faithful will find a lot to like here, and I’m sure Honda will sell a lot of their redesigned Civics. But it seems that other automakers recognize that in order to justify the continued existence of their compact sedans in an ever shrinking segment, they need to give buyers a reason to want one of their offerings on an emotional level. By maintaining the Civic’s status quo and doing little to move the needle for the compact sedan class, it doesn’t seem like Honda is doing the same. And I expect more from an industry-leading automaker like Honda.

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