2022 Honda Civic Sedan First Test: New Gen, New Story?

Honda Civic Full Overview

All it takes is one look at the 2022 Honda Civic sedan to tell that it’s a decidedly different car. Gone are the outgoing Civic’s busy front mug, C-shaped rear light banks, and noisy character lines. In their place is a more mature exterior with a wider stance, glassier greenhouse, and sharp beltline. Inside, the cabin’s snazzy hexagonal mesh (real metal!) dash trim, slick new digital gauges, and smudge-resistant surfaces are also significant updates you can see and touch.

Ah, but has the new Civic changed as much underneath all that shiny new metal, leather, and plastic? Much of our instrumented testing would indicate otherwise. But that doesn’t mean Honda’s chassis and powertrain engineers were less busy than the exterior and interior stylists in developing the 11th-generation 2022 Civic. After all, when you already have a good core, it’s all about the toning. Honda has been toning the Civic for some 50 years and tuning the Touring’s powertrain—a 1.5-liter turbo I-4 and a continuously variable transmission—for the better part of a decade. Gotta keep working that core, especially as you get older.

How Does the New 2022 Honda Civic Perform?

All that work didn’t exactly pay off when it came to the straight-line performance numbers, however. Out at the track, the 2022 Honda Civic Touring’s 0-60-mph time of 7.4 seconds is actually two ticks slower than what we recorded for the then-new 10th-generation Touring sedan back in 2015, despite the new engine’s 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque (increases of 6 horsepower and 15 lb-ft). Same goes for the quarter-mile time of 15.7 seconds at 91.4 mph, which was also 0.2 second and 1 mph slower than the 2016 Civic Touring sedan we tested. The most likely culprit is weight, as the 2022 Civic has put on some poundage. At 3,038 pounds, the new Civic sedan weighs 113 pounds more than the outgoing model, according to our scales.

But those extra pounds are all muscle, right? According to Honda, the new Civic has 8 percent more torsional rigidity and 13 percent greater bending rigidity than before. That shows in our handling tests, where the new 2022 Civic gains the upper hand over the outgoing car, posting better numbers on the skidpad (0.88 g vs. 0.83 g) and in the figure-eight (26.7 seconds at 0.64 g vs. 27.5 seconds at 0.62 g). These are the kinds of stats that bode well for the inevitable high-performance Civic models to follow, including a sedan-based Si.

Those skidpad and figure-eight numbers might have been even better if not for some pesky nannies, according to road test editor Chris Walton. “On the skidpad, it’s largely neutral with very mild understeer, but stability control cannot be shut off, so it chops the throttle, limiting skidpad speed,” he noted.

Pulling stopping duties for the new 2022 Civic are 11.1-inch vented discs at the front and 10.2-inch solid rear discs, both with single-piston calipers. The test team was able to haul the Civic down from 60 mph in 122 feet, 1 foot shorter than the last-gen model, and reported that the brake feel was decent with good body control. The addition of some grippier tires could have potentially helped further shorten that distance.

What’s the New Civic Like Away From the Track?

Out in the real world, the 2022 Civic’s ride and handling have been markedly improved. Again, credit some serious core work—a 1.4-inch wheelbase stretch and a 0.5-inch-wider rear track. Numerous additional updates were made to the MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension, most notably in an effort to reduce suspension friction. Multiple suspension bushings, ball joints, and damper mount points were reworked with the goal of reducing harsh impact shock and noise. Honda claims harshness noise was reduced by 20 percent as a result.

The changes are evident from the first road imperfection you hit. The 2022 Civic Touring has far and away the most refined ride we’ve ever experienced from this nameplate. It’s that good. There’s very little of the impact harshness you’ll often get from shorter-wheelbase, front-drive cars. The car is also quiet at freeway speeds thanks to a host of noise-reduction measures, including the Civic’s first use of urethane spray foam, applied to hollow areas of the body.

As for the powertrain, under hard initial acceleration, power will surge before the transmission quickly settles into a step-shift action designed to reduce the “rubber-band effect” inherent in continuously variable transmissions. The CVT has a downshift control feature that adds engine braking when going downhill, and it’s been revised in an effort to improve engine response when you’re getting on it. The CVT also works to further reduce the turbo lag of the Civic Touring sedan’s 1.5-liter engine, which, despite the pedestrian acceleration numbers, feels linear in its overall power delivery.

While we didn’t have a chance to get really aggressive from a handling perspective, when we got hard into a tight onramp, the Civic’s chassis didn’t feel overwhelmed or wallowy. We did, however, have ample opportunity in jammed L.A. traffic to try out the Civic Touring’s adaptive cruise control and Traffic Jam Assist systems, which are part of its Honda Sensing safety suite. The adaptive cruise did its job, and although the brakes did come on somewhat abruptly at times, the system did restart from a stop. Traffic Jam Assist works at speeds up to 45 mph and essentially steers for you until you’re told to put your hands on the wheel. We had no issues with it other than we would have liked to have left our hands off the wheel longer.

But then again, the Civic has always been a hands-on sort of car, despite the fact that it’s now entering the digital and luxury worlds in a big way with the 11th generation. It’s a car that tuners have messed with for decades and one that Honda itself has tuned with myriad performance editions. It’s a car that, come what may, will remain at the core of what Honda is all about, all while it keeps improving its core.

Looks good! More details?

2022 Honda Civic Touring Specifications
BASE PRICE $29,295
PRICE AS TESTED $29,295
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 1.5L/180-hp/177-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,038 lb (61/39%)
WHEELBASE 107.7 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 184.0 x 70.9 x 55.7 in
0-60 MPH 7.4 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.7 sec @ 91.4 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 122 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.88 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.7 sec @ 0.64 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 31/38/34 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 109/89 kWh/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.57 lb/mile

(With Inputs from motortrend)

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