“If I won the lottery, the first thing I’d do is run right out and buy a Civic!” said no one ever.
And yet, there it is, the undeniably, continuously successful Civic, unbowed by the passage of time, the winner of the coveted and prestigious North American Car Of The Year in Detroit just a few days ago.
What’s the secret of the Civic’s success?
Practicality, for one, starting with manufacture. Honda is the retail #1 brand in America while remaining among the lowest spenders in the industry. It’s also the #1 first car choice for those coveted Millennial and Gen Z buyers.
You’ve got a reasonably spirited engine in the 1.5 litre turbo 4-cylinder job my tester had. (A naturally aspirated 2.0 litre’s available, too.) A 6-speed manual is available as an option, which I would have loved to have tried, but I had the automatic. Trim choices are the LX, the Sport (the most popular) the EX and the Si, with prices starting at $23,365 and rising, naturally, as you go up in trims.
Lookswise, it’s an egg
For the first day or so I had the Civic, I had trouble finding it in parking lots. No, it’s not a Maxima, nor an Altima. But it was white, and there were a lot of white hatchbacks in the parking lots I parked in. I finally said to myself, “Look for the egg” and started finding it right away. (Along with mentally reminding myself where I left the car to begin with.) Wide-set headlights, and taillights with the CHMSL running nearly the full-width of the rear deck, emphasize the wide stance and stability the Civic is celebrated for.
Built on the same platform as the all-new Civic Sedan, the new 2022 Hatchback’s body features attention to detail best appreciated when you wash the car and your rag traces the car’s stylish lines on the hood, flanks and roof. Its “sporty hatchback” design not only adds a sleek coupe-like silhouette and a fastback roofline, it also has a wider cargo opening than its predecessor, making it easier for Home Depot runs – but you’re not going to fit a set of drums back there. Its honeycomb grille, unique to the company’s hatchback, is a nice cosmetic touch. Distinct styling cues include a unique integrated rear spoiler, exhaust finishers and standard alloy wheels.
Let’s Climb Aboard
Civic Hatchback happily adds more rear seat legroom. The dash is bright and cheery, with an available all-digital color instrument display and a new full HD 9-inch color touchscreen, the largest in a Honda brand vehicle (available in Sport Touring.)
Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ integration are standard as they are with any decent new car in 2022, and there’s an available 10.2-inch all-digital instrument display and an HD 9-inch color touchscreen and Bose Centerpoint 2 premium sound system. Unfortunately the sound system in our tester was substandard, making every song sound like the recording engineer put the bass up to ten and instruments down to six, then pushed the SLUDGE button. That verdict came after listening to the classical, hip-hop, classic rock and hard metal stations throughout the test.
The ride and the drive
I found the Civic did everything I asked of it without complaint, from acceleration to sharp steering to braking to parking – and those are good things in an under 30K vehicle. You don’t want your economy car to feel weak or unsubstantial, especially in bad weather. The automatic brake alert is a great touch – this feature will not only save your front end, but prevent you from hitting others if you look away from the road. But I would recommend this car for teen drivers or new drivers in general because of the solid feeling I got while pushing the car past its comfort zone.
The Latest Safety Features
And speaking of safety, here’s a great selling point as well. Despite the low price tag ($24,605 for our tester) the 2022 Civic hatchback includes all the safety updates made to its bro, the 2022 Civic Sedan, including the Honda Sensing® suite of safety and driver assistive technologies, improved with a new single-camera system. Honda Sensing adds standard Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR), Traffic Jam Assist (TJA) in CVT-equipped trims, and gives a more natural feel to functions such as Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Assist.
In fact, the new Civic Hatchback boasts best-ever safety features and performance, with multiple new airbag designs, including the world’s first driver’s airbag specifically designed to reduce head rotation in a collision, especially an oblique collision.
Introduced on the all-new Civic Sedan, the new airbag uses an innovative donut-shaped structure to cradle and hold the head, mitigating rotation and reducing the likelihood of brain injury. On the passenger side, a new three-chamber airbag design achieves a similar result. The three chambers inflate separately, with the two outer chambers that extend above the main chamber designed to cradle the head and control rotation. Along with the two next-generation airbags, Civic benefits from additional standard airbag technology with first-time applications of knee and rear side-impact airbags.
There is so much right with this well-known vehicle and so little wrong, and it was a pleasant if unspectacular week’s test.