While the Canadian masses continue to flock to trucks and SUVs, the importance of compact sedans in the Great White North cannot be overstated.
For more than two decades, Honda’s Civic has worn the crown as the best-selling passenger car, and while Toyota’s Corolla looked to eclipse it earlier this year, the redesigned 2022 Honda Civic Touring should help secure the top spot once again.
The last few generations of Civic have, if we’re charitable, been a bit busy in design. Previously, designers seemed to take more interest in adding in as many discordant shapes, angles, and slices to the body work as possible – and that’s not even including the outrageous Type R model – but now, the Civic has grown up.
The new car’s profile and rear view are particularly tidy, with a welcome lack of tacky baubles, add-ons, fake vents, and really, anything that isn’t necessary. While your author finds it a successful maturing, in speaking with other Civic owners, it may be that Honda has gone a little too far, making it “less sporty” looking, if not entirely bland.
The bulbous nose and vertical plane of body-coloured plastic above the grille-opening is the only area that stands out as a miss on the exterior, but inside, there’s no such concern. The cockpit’s design is clean, with a traditional instrument binnacle and surprisingly conservative use of shapes and textures throughout. A favourite design element is the treatment of the climate system’s vents hidden behind a swath of dashboard-wide grating that kind or resembles miniature chicken wire. It’s a clever bit of style that in no way hinders function.
User Friendliness: 9/10
The contemporary design of the new Civic’s interior is appreciated even more by the fact that it is a masterclass in ergonomic layout. From the driving position, outward sightlines are excellent all around, and every switch, control, and button is within easy reach and placed exactly where one intuitively looks for them. The climate control system is operated via three large knobs. The infotainment screen sits high atop the dash for quick viewing while driving, and its menu system is easy to navigate, negating the need for the owner’s manual to set up all the many driver preferences available. And the fully digital instrument pod offers clean round dials (or the choice of bar-graph-style speedo and tach), and configurable display, presenting a wealth of information with immediacy.
There’s no head-up display, nor a multi-screen infotainment set up, and the car is simpler and far better for it. Best of all, it appears Honda has heard the griping of owners (and automotive media), and the silly push-button gear selector found in other models hasn’t appeared here, and even the stereo has a proper volume knob and tune buttons. Hallelujah!
Keeping the Civic from getting top marks here: the infotainment gremlins found recently in other Honda systems arose again. The wireless Apple CarPlay worked well most of the time, but did spasm its connection a few times, and the screen failed to boot up with the car once, too.
Aside from its glitches, the new nine-inch screen offers bright, crisp graphics (though the back-up camera’s low-light resolution is a grainy mess at night). There’s onboard navigation, a 12-speaker audio system that offers wonderfully balanced sound, and a power sunroof to keep the feature count up on this top-trim Touring model.
Dual-zone automatic climate control, plus a heated steering wheel and heated leather seats front and rear are welcome touches, especially as we come into another Canadian winter. However, although the leather upholstery is perforated, the seats offer no cooling function, and that black leather can heat up quickly in the summer sun.
The leather covering the Civic’s seats feels a higher quality than what most of the competitors are offering. The seats are well-sculptured and balance suppleness with firmness; though while both front thrones are power-actuated, neither offers an adjustable lumbar support, a feature found sorely lacking on longer stints behind the wheel. Rear-seat space is very good for two adults, and three can fit for occasional trips.
In addition to looking more mature and upscale, the new Civic feels it, too. It’s quieter than before, with wind and road noise minimized, and the ride quality is more polished than any previous Civic. All but the nastiest of pavement imperfections are easily damped, yet the Civic doesn’t wallow around, either.
Driving Feel: 8/10
The suspension – independent strut front, and multi-link rear – trades off the comfort of a supple ride with impressive composure when the roads get curvy. The Touring trim wears 18-inch wheels shod with wide 235-mm sporty all-season Goodyears that offer decent grip, and are quiet when pushed to their limits.
The steering is very light and lacking road feel, but quick enough that when coupled with the dialled-in suspension keeps the Civic an agile handler, especially in this era of taller SUVs. Even more impressive is brake feel, with excellent bite and strong, progressive stopping power.
The Touring trim has a 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder, just like last year, except with a minor output bump to 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. While the new car weighs slightly more than the old one, the Civic remains sufficiently spritely for around-town duties and highway passing. It never feels overly energetic, and occasionally the continuously variable transmission (CVT) seems to catch the engine asleep when goaded by a deep stab of the throttle. As such, there can occasionally be a breath or two before the Civic responds with any sort of meaningful acceleration.
The CVT is the only transmission offered here, though the upcoming Si model can be had with a six-speed manual. The new Civic also added a selectable sport mode for improved throttle response.
Fuel Economy: 7.5/10
This turbo engine only requires regular-grade gas – appreciated given the price of it these days. The Civic employs an auto stop-start function that works well, responds quickly, and helps reduce emissions when stopped at a light or in traffic.
The Civic Touring is officially rated at 7.6 L/100 km in the city, 6.1 on the highway, and 6.9 combined. Those figures are all better than last year’s Civic Touring, albeit by a small margin. After logging a lot of kilometres during the test week, an overall average of 6.6 L/100 km was noted, following a mix of driving conditions, so the government figures are easy to achieve, or beat. Impressive as the Civic’s efficiency is, it’s still bettered by the Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen Jetta, and its small fuel tank limits range.
In addition to making the Civic’s body structure more rigid, Honda has also included a new front passenger airbag system designed to help cradle the passenger’s head and control rotation in the event of an impact.
Beyond that, Honda’s comprehensive suite of active safety features is standard equipment, including an updated adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist system, both of which worked fluidly, even in traffic. There’s also emergency braking and driver alertness systems included.
While the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet to publish crash results for the 2022 Civic, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has awarded it a Top Safety Pick+ rating.
A large part of the appeal of SUVs is their greater utility and practicality versus the cars that people used to drive. In reality, most folks don’t need the added space (nor the mass) of a crossover most of the time, adding to increased fuel consumption. The passenger space in the new Civic is every bit as practical and spacious as the typical compact SUV, and while the hatchback cargo hold of an SUV can accommodate bulky items, the length and depth of the Civic’s trunk – plus its 60/40-split rear seat – enables it to carry plenty of stuff.
For drivers facing deep snow, the lower ride height of a sedan like the Civic makes it more likely to get stuck, especially since the Civic remains unavailable with all-wheel drive.
Pricing across the Civic’s lineup has increased by roughly $1,000, making this Touring trim crest the $32,000 threshold. Looking at similar front-wheel-drive competitors like the Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra, Hyundai Elantra, and Volkswagen Jetta, the Civic tops them all for cost. But the refinement, quality interior materials, strong feature content, and the Civic’s long history of good reliability help the Honda remain a strong value despite its price tag.
With increasingly impressive competition from several key competitors, and a shrinking consumer interest in sedans, it’s great to see Honda realize the importance of the Civic. As it has been so many times in the past, this new, 11th generation of the storied nameplate is once again at the head of the class.
|Engine Cylinders||Turbo I4|
|Peak Horsepower||180 hp @ 6,000 rpm|
|Peak Torque||177 lb-ft @ 1,700–4,500 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||7.6 / 6.1 / 6.9 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||408 L|
|Model Tested||2022 Honda Civic Touring|
|Price as Tested||$32,365|
$300 – Sonic Grey Pearl paint, $300