For many families in Canada and around the world, the Honda Civic is a way of life and has always been one of the best-selling compact cars on the market. For the 2022 model year, an all-new eleventh generation model has debuted, bringing in a more conservative but handsome design inside and out. I can definitely speak to the way of life part, as I’ve grown up in two Civics: in the 1990s, my father had a 1984 hatchback that he bought for sixty ($60!) dollars and rescued from the dead, followed by a 1983 sedan. Today, I have two Civics of my own – a rust-free Rio Red 1991 five-door wagon that no longer sees harsh Ontario winters, as well as a 2008 Acura CSX Type-S – think of it as a Canadian-exclusive Civic Si sedan with the same screaming K20 engine and six-speed manual, but with leather seats and a few other goodies.
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The CSX does duty shuttling around my family pretty dang well and is an excellent choice for urban life. It also moves between auto manufacturers each week as my leave-behind vehicle when testing press cars – after sitting for a full week each time, it has never let me down. When travelling with my wife, my infant son, a cheeky dachshund, and all of the kit that comes with having a baby, I actually prefer it to many small sport utility vehicles. Many sedans have an advantage of better trunk length when it comes to rear cargo capacity, and while you can’t load them as sky-high as an SUV, having a car seat installed and a stroller in the back is easier in my Acura-Civic than say, a Mazda CX-5. The CSX swallows a stroller with room in front or behind it, whereas the Mazda jams the stroller between seatback and liftgate with nothing to spare.
When the opportunity arose to test a 2022 Honda Civic Touring Sedan courtesy of Honda Canada, needless to say, I didn’t hesitate. While the new base LX model starts at a higher price of $24,465 Canadian before taxes and fees, it does now come standard with features such as pushbutton start and a blind-spot warning system. The Touring model Daddy’s Digest has this week comes in at $30,265 and comes with goodies like a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power moonroof, 12-speaker Bose audio, leather seating surfaces, and a 9-inch infotainment touch screen.
For your thirty-ish grand, the Touring does bring to the table a more powerful engine than its more pedestrian LX, EX, and Sport trims. A 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers 180 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, compared to the base 2.0-litre non-turbo at 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet. The 1.5 turbo also makes its torque at a much lower part of the rev range, so the extra oomph is felt even more strongly in day-to-day driving than these numbers suggest. Sadly, a manual transmission is no longer offered in the Civic Sedan – you’ll have to move to the sporty Si in order to row your own gears. Front-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic (CVT) is the only choice for four doors, and thankfully, it stays out of your way and helps to deliver a smooth, efficient, and refined driving experience.
Inside, the 2022 Civic Touring’s interior has been totally revamped and now sits in the very upper range of its class – neck and neck with the Mazda3, and beating out all others. Fit and finish in the Canadian-made Civic Sedan is great, and while the colour scheme is a monotony of grey and black, many of the little design details like the honeycomb HVAC vents make the Honda feel more premium than its price point. The seats are comfortable, and four adults should have no problem fitting well. Compared to the 2008 CSX, legroom and rear-facing child seat space is about the same – although the 2022 Civic has much easier access to the LATCH/ISOFIX anchors.
Out back, the 2022 model still features a convenient 60/40 folding rear seat with release handles in the trunk, and while overall capacity has improved – 408 litres in the Touring versus 341 in the 2008 CSX – trunk length is very similar if factoring the fact that the 2022 model needs to dive into the small rear seat opening area to achieve the same measurement. Bottom line – with a stroller, pack ‘n play, and a couple bags, the slight advantage goes to the 2008 model, even though it loses on paper. If you needed to stuff the trunk to the absolute gills with no daylight remaining, the 2022 would likely win. If you still need more cargo space than this within the Honda lineup, consider the CR-V (of which a brand new model is likely coming within the next year or two).
With the new eleventh-generation Civic, technology upgrades will be sure to impress compared to the outgoing tenth-generation car that was sold from the 2016 to 2021 model years. The Touring model adds a 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster that’s clear and crisp, with excellent contrast and therefore excellent readability. Touring also adds wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability, which help to clean up a nest of USB cables on top of wireless phone charging. I’m happy to report that there are plenty of buttons and knobs for audio, heating, and air conditioning controls, which help the ergonomics a ton – Honda never heard the end of it when the 2016 Civic came out without a volume knob – I think they’ve learnt their lesson here. Unfortunately, like many other automakers, all the shiny piano black trim in many of today’s cars will scratch and fingerprint way too easily.
On the safety front, the latest version of Honda Sensing driver-assist features can be found in the 2022 Civic. These include the aforementioned blind-spot warning system, as well as forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane departure warning with lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition with traffic jam assist, and Touring models get a rear cross-traffic alert system and automatic low-speed braking added on top. As a whole, it’s a more refined and confident system when on the roads, especially in terms of the lane-keeping assist systems when used together with the adaptive cruise control. Where the old system used to bounce in between the lane lines a lot more, the new one stays centred much more often. Keep in mind though, full driver attention is still required when using these systems.
With regards to handling and driving dynamics, the 2022 Civic is more of an evolution over the last model, rather than a revolution. This means confident and fun handling that borders on the edge of high-performance, and generally comfortable ride other than some front-end bounciness on bumpier freeways. Wind noise is well controlled, but as is typical with Hondas since forever, a little more road and tire noise makes its way into the cabin than would be ideal. With the Si model freshly announced, and a super-hot Type R version surely in the works, the regular versions of the Civic are often a good bellwether for what’s coming up next for the Japanese automaker.
I’m pretty firmly entrenched in life with a Honda Civic or one of its forms, and practically everyone everywhere either has, had, or knows somebody with one. As such, I think the 2022 Honda Civic Touring Sedan promises to stay true to the formula that’s made it so popular, but also modernizes it with today’s technology. It moves to just about the top of its segment as an all-around great small car. It’s good as somebody’s first new car, it’s good for families who don’t want a large car, and it’s good for everyone who wants an efficient, comfortable runabout. There are only a few flaws here, and they pale in comparison to the rest of what you get for your money.
Jerry Vo cut his teeth in writing as an automotive journalist and is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). Having reviewed cars since 2015, he takes pride in providing relevant and technically savvy consumer advice, and is extending that over into reviews in various other categories at Daddy's Digest. He is a proud dad of one and is letting the wonderful journey of parenthood teach him new things every day.