2022 Honda Civic Review: Highway Star

Hey, is that the new Accord?

I was asked that question thrice during my week with the 2022 Honda Civic Touring sedan. But you couldn’t blame the people for confusing the two. The 10th-generation Civic looked like a toned-down Pokémon while the new 11th-gen is exactly the opposite.

The new Civic’s design is plenty of evidence that Honda is moving away from the boy racer image towards a more mature approach. And people love it, mostly. We’ve already sung the praises about how the Civic is the new benchmark in the compact sedan segment and how great it is as a city car. But what if you want more? Something to drive you to school and work on the weekdays but doesn’t feel like a fish out of water when you hit the open road with the whole family and a full trunk.

SEE ALSO: Honda Civic vs Hyundai Elantra Comparison

Is the Civic Touring trim name just a name, or is there some truth behind the badge? Only one way to find out.

Pack your bags

Not everyone shared my enthusiasm when I told the family that we would be undertaking our 500-mile (800-km) road trip in a sedan and not a crossover as originally planned. Even it being the new Civic didn’t help. But the bags were packed and the path was set.

While 14.4 cu-ft (408 liters) of luggage space doesn’t sound like much, it’s quite astonishing how much you can fit in if utilized properly. Having a four-year-old involves packing one-third of your house for a weekend trip and the surprise on my better half’s face was quite evident.

“I hope it’s comfortable,” she said as we got ready to depart. Little did she know that Honda has completely redone the front seats for the 2022 Civic. A new seat frame at the base supports the bodyweight of the occupants while additional support in the seatback ensures comfort for long drives. When my wife didn’t adjust her seat for the entire four-hour journey, I figured the new seat frame worked.

The rear offers an almost flat floor which enables seating three in the rear. Plus, the additional 1.4 inches (36 mm) of wheelbase ensured my six-foot brother-in-law could slip in behind me with ease. And 37.4 inches (950 mm) of legroom proves more than adequate even for taller passengers as does the 37.1 inches (942 mm) of headroom. The windows are quite large, and it adds to the feeling of space.

Then there is the layout of the cabin. The 10.2-inch all-digital instrument cluster is unique to the Touring and sets the tone for the whole cabin. It is minimalism integrated with technology at its best. Anyone who sat in the new Civic doted upon the honeycomb design on the dash and the cleverly hidden air-con vents. The physical HVAC controls, with metal and knurled finish, add a touch of class and elegance to the dash. The dash itself is virtually devoid of reflective surfaces and everything seems spread out despite the Civic’s (relatively) compact dimensions. There’s an abundance of metal and soft feel material but everything looks and feels balanced and ergonomic. It is possibly the best example yet of Honda’s Machine Minimum, Man Maximum (or M/M) philosophy.

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Tech and features

Although flush-fit infotainment screens look more glamorous than the pop-out ones, the 9.0-inch screen here atop the dash works in the Civic’s favor. It frees up space on the dash for that beautiful honeycomb design and the elegant HVAC knobs with their almost hypnotic tactility. I kept toying with the temperature and fan speed just to hear those clicks. While most infotainment screens today are canted towards the driver which is irksome for some passengers, the Civic’s touchscreen is aptly placed to be accessible to the passenger as well. So there were no complaints in the Honda.

The screen also runs an updated OS which is more responsive compared to the previous versions, and offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Qi wireless charging works well, and can charge up to 40 percent in about 30 minutes. And for any long journey, a good sound system is a must and the 12-speaker Bose sound system was the perfect companion. Pity though that it is only available in the top Touring trim. Both wireless charging and the Bose system are upgrades worth having.

One of the defining features of the 2022 Civic—and my personal favorite—is the 10.2-inch all-digital instrument cluster. Again, limited to the Touring trim, the instrument cluster here is the command center of the entire car. It displays all the information you need in a well-laid-out format. A tiny Civic replica sits at the bottom center of the screen and mimics the brake lights and indicators of the car. And when you activate the adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, all dials move away making space for the radar to display all three lanes around you.

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I had the system on for over 100 miles (160 km) and it worked flawlessly. It displays all the vehicles around you accurately as well and even gets the type right. The braking is progressive, though the acceleration can be a bit sudden especially if the speed drops down dramatically. Acceleration between 40-70 mph (65–113 km/h) is smooth and progressive it’s only when going from the low 30s that the sedan tends to accelerate with a vengeance. Low-speed follow works almost flawlessly in heavy traffic situations, but you do need to watch out for lane skippers as the Civic tends to treat that as an emergency braking situation and needs human intervention.

Honda seems to have pulled out all the stops to make the Civic the new benchmark. Most driver assistance systems, including the adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, and traffic jam assist, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keep assist are standard across the lineup. Only the low-speed braking control, rear cross-traffic alert, and front and rear parking sensors are exclusive to the Touring.

On the open road

I was asked if I was in the right mind taking the Civic on the long journey. I agree that a 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder making 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of peak torque with front-drive and a CVT doesn’t sound like much but passing judgment before driving the car is like criticizing a dish before tasting it.

The engine might only make 177 lb-ft of torque, but it peaks at 1,700 rpm. So even with a mostly loaded car, the Civic never felt lacking on the highway. Plus, a low curb weight of 3022 lb (1,371 kg) certainly helps. Even the lightest of prods result in immediate progress. The CVT might not be the best while driving enthusiastically but for long hauls where you want to put the least amount of stress on your car, the CVT works. You also get a new Sport mode which makes the throttle sharper and revs the CVT a tad higher. But the Civic feels at its most organic in normal mode. The Eco mode is understandably conservative and is best used for the city.

On the highway I found the normal mode to work the best and even with speeds regularly encroaching 70 mph (113 km/h), the Civic still managed to return 33 mpg (7.1 L/100 km). if driven more carefully, it will easily crack 36 mpg (6.5 L/100 km), a tad higher than even the claimed figure.

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The Civic feels well behaved on the highway. Honda’s suspension setup is impeccable and it soaked up everything the highway threw at it. Even the bigger bumps were dealt with with minimal drama and the car stayed planted at all times. In the corners, it felt balanced and surprisingly eager. Braking felt sharp and progressive and the steering, though direct lacks a bit in feel. But it’s something you won’t even notice or care about because the rest of the package is just that good.

Long highway stints usually display the gaps in the NVH armor, but the package is as solid as the rest of the Civic. The cabin is well insulated, and the slivers of tire and noise are taken care of by the 12-speaker Bose sound system.

Loading the car to its limit with four adults, a child, and all the beach gear causes the Civic to squat a fair bit but it never bottoms out and still doesn’t lose any of its ride quality. It does take a bit more pressure from the right foot to make progress but that is to be expected.

What’s the competition?

Leaving the Mazda3 Turbos to the Si, the main rival of the Civic is the Hyundai Elantra. Starting at $20,655, the Elantra manages to undercut the Civic ($22,695 / $26,165 CAD) by over $2,000 whilst offering a similar 2.0-liter four-pot/CVT setup. Honda offers blind-spot recognition and adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist as standard across the range, while the Elantra reserves its Highway Drive assist for the top trim and cruise control is only available in the penultimate trim.

SEE ALSO: 3 Reasons the 2021 Mazda3 Turbo Succeeds as a Luxury Car (and 3 it Doesn’t)

Looking at the top trims, while the Elantra holds an advantage of almost $3,500 over the Civic Touring which retails at $29,910 ($32,265 CAD), the Honda also offers a much more powerful 1.5-liter turbo, more upscale cabin, and a better ride/handling package.

Verdict: 2022 Honda Civic Touring Review

It’s hard to argue that at $29,910 ($32,265 CAD) the 2022 Honda Civic Touring is a bargain. For a compact sedan that is undoubtedly pricey. But the Civic pushes the definition of a compact sedan to its limits. It’s quite large, spacious, and is dripping with class-leading tech.

Then there is the 180 hp 1.5-liter turbo four-pot which, combined with the impeccable ride and handling package makes the Civic a capable long-distance Touring car as well and so much more than just an A-to-B city car.

Discuss this story at our Honda Civic Forum.

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