I'll just put it out there, the all-new Honda Civic is no longer for fu**bois. After developing a reputation in the tuner scene, as well as a certain demographic of young drivers, I can definitely say that the 2022 Civic is all grown-up.
Not that it's a bad thing, of course. Like most things in life, there's a time that we have to grow up and leave our old past selves behind. Whether it has to do with work or with our personal lives, that growth is important for the betterment of ourselves. That is exactly what happened with their popular sedan.
Now on its 11th generation, the sedan has not only grown in size, but it now also gets a brand new look inside and out, more standard amenities, an upgraded turbocharged engine, and a wide array of intelligent driver aids.
Clearly, Honda was busy upgrading and redesigning the Civic. But just how improved is the all-new Civic over the previous generation? To find out, Honda recently invited us for a drive of the turbocharged sedan.
With a day trip from Bonifacio Global City to Tagaytay, and back, I had plenty of time to familiarize myself with the all-new Civic.
A More Mature-Looking Civic
When I first looked at the pictures of the 2022 Honda Civic, I wasn't so sure about its design. Yes, it has an all-new look but from certain angles, it looks just like an Accord albeit downsized. It wasn't until I laid my eyes on one in the metal did I actually appreciate its sleeker appearance.
While I will miss the 10th generation's sportier design, the 11th generation's looks are also great. It retains the long hood, short deck design of the old Civic, but adopts a more mature appearance. The new LED headlights and grille give the sedan a cool yet calm demeanor which is completely opposite from the previous generation's front fascia.
But it is perhaps the Civic's rear I find the most intriguing. Gone are the radical C-shaped taillights and in their place are new L-shaped units. It also gets a ducktail spoiler and a clean rear bumper design. Some might say this makes the Civic look boring or mundane. But for me, I find it clever. After getting to look at the back of a Civic for a long time during the drive, I have to say that it actually looks like a German sedan, particularly something like Audi would design.
Go for the RS version, and the Civic gets neat touches of black. From the 18-inch RS-style wheels, door handles, side mirror caps, and rear spoiler, the dark hue gives the Civic some extra flair especially when paired with the Platinum White Pearl paint finish (an extra PHP 20,000 by the way).
All in all, the Civic's more laidback appearance is a breath of fresh air for the popular sedan. Sure, some will say that it's looking more like a “tito” car as the younger generation would say today. But my counter against that statement is that the 2022 Civic is the new (cool) “tito” car.
Simpler is Better
While the exterior looked nice, it was the interior that won me over. The Civic is one of the new Hondas to use the 'Simplicity and Something' design concept. Instead of having a wide array of buttons, Honda decided to keep it clean and fairly simple. This is a clear contradiction compared to the 10th generation's interior design.
The aircon vents are hidden behind a honeycomb-like trim which gives it a sleek appearance. Meanwhile, a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment display stands front and center for all to see. While I was expecting the screen to be a lot bigger, I did like the touchscreen's high-resolution graphics and easy-to-navigate menus. I also like the fact that it comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay – meaning pairing my smartphone in order to hook up Waze and YouTube Music was easy and seamless.
Also, new inside the 2022 Civic is the digital gauge cluster. Not only does it display the speedometer and tachometer, but it also features an integrated multi-info display.
Perhaps the biggest improvement Honda did on the all-new Civic is ergonomics, particularly with the dual-zone automatic climate control. When the 10th generation Civic first debuted in 2016, you'd have to press a button in order to bring up the climate control menu. From here, you can adjust the fan speed and set the other HVAC settings. They rectified this design in a 2019 update with the use of dedicated buttons for setting the fan, as well as where the air will be sent to. However, it still wasn't as ergonomic.
Fortunately, Honda listened to customer feedback and redesigned the climate control system. Instead of just having buttons, the system now has dials to make adjusting the fan speed and HVAC easier. It's so easy that I was able to change climate control settings without having to take my eyes off the road. Props to Honda for making this important design update.
If the 10th generation Civic's interior was too busy and cluttered, Honda toned it down and cleaned it for the 11th generation model. Personally, I like what Honda did to make the cabin look cooler and less cluttered.
Turbo All The Way
Don't expect to find a naturally-aspirated engine under the hood of the all-new Civic. The 1.8-liter R18 is no more as all variants of the sedan now come with an improved 1.5-liter turbocharged VTEC inline-four. The engine makes 178 PS at 6000 rpm along with 240 Nm of torque at 1700 – 4500 rpm.
With 5 more PS and 20 more Nm of pull, the Civic is packing a lot more under the hood. But how's the CVT handling all the extra power? I'm happy to report that Honda was also able to improve the Civic's power delivery.
If there's one complaint the previous-generation Civic had when it comes to performance, it's the delay between the boost kicking in and the CVT actually sending power to the wheels. Thanks to a new shift logic, however, there is almost no more lag/delay in power delivery. This made overtaking other cars on the highway or along provincial roads a cinch. And should I prefer to drive more spiritedly, it made for a more fun driving experience.
Want a more exciting time behind the wheel? You can set the Civic to Sport mode which makes it have sharper acceleration. Not only that, but it hangs on to the revs for longer which allows drivers to get the most out of their spirited driving. On the other end of the spectrum, the Civic can also be set to Econ which is short for Economy. Here, the powertrain is more sedated and the revs are more conservative. This is great for when you're just strolling around the city or saving every drop of fuel while on the highway.
The new Civic may be a more mature vehicle nowadays, but that doesn't mean Honda has forgotten to give the proper performance it deserves. There are those that might scoff that the Civic Turbo continues to be unavailable with a manual gearbox. My say to that is why not get behind the wheel of Civic first and see just how it delivers the power.
Sharp and Comfy
So the Civic has a turbocharged engine that allows it to be quick on its feet. But is the all-new Civic agile? And is it a comfortable car to be in?
After clocking some seat time for hundreds of kilometers, I can definitely say that the Civic hasn't lost its edge when it comes to handling. Whether it was taking on mountain roads or winding back roads, the Civic never missed a beat. The electronic power steering provided enough feedback to let drivers know what the car is doing. In addition, the steering is adaptive – meaning it's light when going around town and only becomes heavy when you're driving at highway speeds.
But what about ride comfort? Despite having 235/40 tires with 18-inch alloy wheels, the Civic RS was still able to deliver a pliant ride. Sure there was some stiffness, but nothing too jarring that it shook me during the entire trip.
However, I did ask some of our colleagues who were able to drive the V and S versions which come with thicker tires. According to them, the V and S models of the Civic had a softer ride. This didn't come as a surprise since the two variants come with thicker 215/50/17 and 215/55/16 tires, respectively. Hopefully, we'll be able to do a comparison between all three variants of the Civic in the future.
What is perhaps one of the most important upgrades the Civic received is Honda Sensing. First made available on other models like the CR-V and the Accord, this feature basically gives the Civic intelligent driver aids. The system has been upgraded and now makes use of two wide-angle cameras placed in front of the rearview mirror.
With it, the Civic now comes with smart features such as lane-keep assist (LKAS), adaptive cruise control (ACC) with low-speed follow (LSF), collision mitigation braking system (CMBS), lane departure warning (LDW), road departure mitigation (RDM), auto high beam (AHB), and lead car departure notification (LDN). All of these features work via a camera and radar-based system.
Out of all the driver aids I mentioned, it was the LKAS, ACC with LSF, and LDW that impressed me the most. Starting with the lane-keeping assist feature, the system keeps track of a road's lane markings which allows it to maintain the car within a specific lane. What I didn't expect, however, is a neat trick up its sleeve.
While driving along the Cavite Laguna Expressway (CALAX), the lead car mentioned to us over the radio to turn on the LKAS system. While I only expected it to maintain the car within a lane, I was surprised that it was actually able to steer the car while driving along a curved part of the expressway. Granted that it's not auto-steer, I still find this feature a joy to use.
While I'm already familiar with adaptive cruise control, I've yet to familiarize myself with the low-speed follow feature. For those unfamiliar, ACC automatically adjusts the cruising speed and distance should another vehicle be in front of you. You can even set how far behind your vehicle is from the car in front of you. But how does this low-speed follow feature work in all of this? Whereas ACC will only help the car maintain a desired distance, the low-speed follow function will allow the vehicle to slow down and even stop should the car in front of you stop as well. We managed to test this several times while driving in CALAX and it made me a believer in the system's ability to adjust itself.
As for LDW, it prevents you from inadvertently going out of your lane. But what I really liked with lane departure warning is the fact that it works in tandem with the turn signals. The LDW works by providing resistance in case you want to change lanes without using the turn signals. This is a feature I wish all cars came with so as to teach drivers to use their signals every time.
If ever you plan on going on a road trip, know that the Civic's Honda Sensing features will serve as your extra road companion. With its intelligent camera system and a wide array of sensors, it essentially acts as the vehicle's extra pair of eyes.
Some might think the Honda Sensing system for the Civic works similarly to autonomous driving. While its features do prevent you from getting into accidents, it does not make the Civic a self-driving vehicle. These are strictly driver aids that are designed to help the driver while on the road.
All grown up
Before getting to drive the all-new Civic, I was expecting it to be more or less the same with just a reskinned exterior and interior. But after being behind the wheel for a considerable amount of time, I can say that Honda did their homework.
Not only is it quicker, but Honda really worked on improving and upgrading the Civic's features and handling. Its design may leave fanboys scratching their heads, but personally, I like the styling direction Honda is going for with the Civic. Compared to the 10th generation model, I believe the 11th generation's looks will age better as time goes on.
Last but not least, the addition of Honda Sensing gives extra peace of mind for both the driver and passengers. While this feature does add a premium to the Civic's price, interested buyers will be happy to know that it's available in all variants. That way, you can be sure that the Civic will keep you safe while on the road.
Be sure to tune in soon as we plan to do a thorough review of all the Civic variants in the future; from the entry-level S to the mid-range V, and the top-of-the-line RS.