Fully redesigned, the 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback hits the ground with upscale styling, a finely rendered cabin, and refined moves.
Tested here is the top Sport Touring trim which, at nearly $38,000 before tax, is the most you can spend on this compact Honda – at least until the hotly anticipated Type R version arrives. We sampled the no-cost six-speed manual transmission that replaces the automatic continuously-variable transmission (CVT) to see if stirring one’s own gears adds an extra dash fun to this reinvention of Canada’s best-selling car.
The previous Civic’s somewhat overwrought bodywork makes way for an elegant look that echoes its big-brother Accord. And while the last hatchback was even weirder than the sedan, this fresh five-door shares the current sedan’s sweeping rear roofline and classy swath of chrome trim, culminating in a well resolved design that looks great from any angle.
The hatch gets a slightly different grille treatment and is marginally shorter than the sedan, showing less rear overhang. The Sport Touring rides on handsome 18-inch alloys, and here dipped in Rallye Red ($300), it garnered plenty of appreciative glances during this week-long test.
The 2022 Honda Civic gets a comprehensive list of standard safety features – blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and keeping assist, parking sensors, collision mitigation warning and braking, adaptive cruise control, and traffic sign recognition. Opting for the manual transmission negates the adaptive cruise control’s low-speed follow function.
The lane-keep assist feature can be a bit overzealous at times, getting tripped up by indistinct lane markings. The LED headlights with their automatic high-beam settings, meanwhile, proved very effective during nighttime rural driving.
Proving the worth of the five-door hatchback format, I loaded up this sleek Civic with an electric bass, an upright bass, and various other musical bits and pieces for a gig with The Tenors at the Burning Kiln Winery in St. Williams, Ont. The 60/40-split rear bench easily folds to create nearly a flat floor. With the seats upright there is a generous 639 L of cargo space, most of which can be hidden from view with a compact retractable cover that pulls out from the side rather than near the seatbacks – or worse still, a cumbersome hard cover.
Up front there are two large cupholders, a generous centre armrest bin and a large, rubberized phone charging pad in this Sport Touring. The rest of the lineup goes without, while the base LX trim has only a single USB charging port.
User Friendliness: 8.5/10
The 2022 Civic earns kudos for logical ergonomics and easy familiarity. A trio of large rotary knobs – still the best layout – control HVAC functions, and the touchscreen gets a volume knob, although one for tuning would be welcome, too.
The nine-inch touchscreen sits proudly on the dash and sports a menu structure that’s clear and intuitive. Ahead of the driver is a 10.2-inch fully digital gauge cluster, a first for the Civic nameplate. Each dash vent has its own little joystick for adjusting airflow and direction – so brilliantly simple and effective you wonder why it would be done any other way.
It’s a roomy, airy cabin, and forward visibility is aided by thin A-pillars and door-mounted mirrors that don’t obstruct views when cornering. Another handy feature is the capless fuel filler. All in all, this is a marvellously user-friendly vehicle.
This being the top tier model, the Civic Sport Touring boasts real leather, rain-sensing wipers, and the aforementioned nine-inch touchscreen (lower trims get a seven-inch screen), plus a very nice 12-speaker sound system. The infotainment features navigation along with wired Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto (both are wired in the LX and Sport trims). Cabin quality is top-notch, and the narrow band of honey-comb grille that spans the width of the dash is a delightfully classy design element. Rear-seat passengers get heated derrieres in this top trim, but there’s no seat ventilation or adjustable lumbar support for front-seat occupants – only heat. A large sunroof is standard with this top trim.
Doing duty here is Honda’s ubiquitous 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and for 2022 the Civic gets an extra six hp and 15 lb-ft of torque for totals of 180 and 177, respectively. This is a sweet little engine that operates with smooth linearity. It possesses an eager mid-range turbo urge that gives the hatch great flexibility, making it one of the swifter offerings in the segment. Be warned, though: eco mode dulls performance quite a bit in the name of saving fuel.
The 2022 Civic feels incredibly roomy, and rear-seat passengers enjoy generous head- and legroom. Ride quality is good if leaning a bit too far to the firm and sporty side, but only the worst road scars upset the proceedings. Under most conditions, the well-tuned suspension effortlessly and quietly soaks up imperfections. On the highway, the Civic is a serene and stable champion. The refinement and grown-up comportment truly impresses.
Driving Feel: 8.5/10
As with many Honda products, one gets the sense the engineers behind this compact hatch care about driver engagement and sporty dynamics. Here, it’s emphasized by the no-cost six-speed manual transmission that can be specced in lieu of the standard CVT. As far as manuals go, it’s easy to operate, featuring a smooth and light clutch, and decently satisfying shift action. The fly in the ointment is an annoying rev-hang between upshifts that seems to be something Honda bakes into most of its manual-equipped cars (Civic Type R excepted). Once your arms, legs, and brain get calibrated, it all works pretty well, but you won’t find the mechanical satisfaction the best manual transmissions offer.
Beyond that, the new Civic Hatchback is a fine-handling little rig that expertly blends compliance with a healthy appetite for unravelling a twisty road.
Fuel Economy: 9/10
Official fuel economy numbers for the 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback equipped with the six-speed manual are 8.5 L/100 km in the city, 6.3 on the highway, and 7.5 combined. This week-long test came in at an impressive 5.9 L/100 km. Granted, I wasn’t doing a lot of in-town stop-and-go driving, and with gas at over $2/L at the time, I was pretty judicious with the throttle. Still, that is mighty sanctimonious fuel-sipping for a roomy, decently quick, and well-equipped hatchback.
The base price of $35,650 for this 2022 Civic Sport Touring Hatchback – don’t forget the non-negotiable freight charge of $1,780, too – is up $1,750 from last year and puts it a price point well above key rivals like the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3, and right in Volkswagen Golf GTI territory. That’s a lot to consider.
However, such is this Honda’s feature count, build quality, design, engineering, and fine road manners that it certainly doesn’t feel over-priced – at least not to me. The old adage that you get what you pay for rings true here.
My son has a 2012 Honda Civic. A decade separates it from this 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback these two, but it might as well be an eternity. The latest version is an entirely different class of vehicle, with nary a whiff of economy car to be found. It’s a class act from A to Z.
Kudos to Honda for offering the manual transmission in it top-tier Sport Touring trim (Toyota and Mazda only offer theirs in lesser trims), but logic dictates the same-price CVT is the more obvious choice as it will return even better fuel mileage and make in-town diving an easier proposition. Yet for those not ruled by logic, the manual transmission is an excellent way to get closer emotionally to your slick new Honda.
|180 hp @ 6,000 rpm
|177 lb-ft @ 1,700–4,500 rpm
|8.5 / 6.3 / 7.5 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
|2022 Honda Civic Sport Touring Hatchback
|Price as Tested
$300 – Rallye Red paint, $300