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Tested: 2022 Honda Civic vs. the Compact-Sedan Competition
Honda's 11th-generation Civic takes on sedan rivals from Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, and VW.
BY JOE LORIO
SEP 22, 202
Car & Driver

From the October 2021 issue of Car and Driver.

The arrival of the 11th-generation Honda Civic for 2022 spurred us to take a fresh look at the world of compact sedans. The market's mania for crossovers, pickups, and off-roaders of all stripes largely overshadows this segment, but practical and efficient four-doors continue to serve a great swath of buyers, many of them first-time new-car owners.

Opting for a well-equipped version like the sedans in this test will give you a level of style, polish, and content that was unimaginable in starter cars of the past. The democratization of luxury equipment has accelerated, and these small cars are the beneficiaries, offering things like adaptive cruise control, digital instrument clusters, leather seats, and wireless smartphone mirroring. To get the feel for automotive opulence, size small, we gathered six high-spec models with a rough target price of $28,000.

Redone for '22, the Civic sedan line culminates in the Touring, which brings a 180-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-four instead of the 158-hp 2.0-liter in lower trims. The Touring gets leather, a 9.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, and a digital instrument cluster. With a $395 upcharge for Morning Mist Metallic paint, our test car stickered at $29,710.

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Some solid choices in this segment, and Honda has knocked their latest Civic out of the park.

Yet, this article is also a poignant reminder that none of the traditional "Big 3" offer a product in the category any longer.

While we've read ad nauseum that the market is shifting further to crossover and SUVs. We cannot escape that.

However, one still notes that this product segment was among the biggest and most competitive not long ago.

And even if American automakers were historically "weak" in the compact sedan/coupe/hatch market, their most recent offerings were not only solid, but (mostly) competitive with their peers.

While we cannot ignore the economics of the market, it is rather sad to know that if a consumer is looking for a compact sedan (yes, not everyone wants a crossover or SUV), you have fewer options to choose from. And none of them are domestic.

Congrats to Honda on a solid offering. If their relationship with GM deepens past EVs down the line, maybe GM could be persuaded to offer a "cloned" Civic to their own customers seeking an anti-crossover/SUV purchase.
 

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Shock! CD chooses a Honda product.
 
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Very nice review, the Civic Sport hatch is definitely on my "next car" list for test driving. Stick shift of course. I'm not a fan of the iPad display but I'll live with it to get a 6sp, good handling, etc. But I'm happy to drive my Sonic another year or two as things settle down.
 

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With all due....the Cruze was never close. The cruze was good used car buy for your kid going off to college but dollar for dollar with the Civic/Corolla...it wasn't close.
 

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Is a Honda Civic a compact or midsize car?
 

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How the mighty has fallen. I see more versions of just introduced BEV models from the competition as I see Honda Civics on the road here in Germany.
 

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Boy, Hyundai design just sucks. It's so busy and overdone. The Pontiac of today, lousy quality and all.
Hyundai's design direction looks very questionable in my eyes. Certainly is distinctive, but I don't find their direction good looking on any of their vehicles. I even find Toyota/Lexus' enormous cylon grill to be better executed (and that isn't saying much). Slashes, lights (Tuscon), grills, creases and folds everywhere - distinctive but not compelling.

I had my first chance to drive a Kia, a low milage 4 year old Sportage, and drove it back to back with my parents 10 year old Terrain. What a disappointment the Kia was after all the hype I've read (and I assume this hold true for Hyundai as they are the same company). Cheap materials, crude ride, rough engine - my parents felt like an S Class after the Sportage. All I could say is there were a lot of features for the money. Though 5+ years ago I did drive a Sonata and felt that was contemporary with the market.
 

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Very nice review, the Civic Sport hatch is definitely on my "next car" list for test driving. Stick shift of course. I'm not a fan of the iPad display but I'll live with it to get a 6sp, good handling, etc. But I'm happy to drive my Sonic another year or two as things settle down.
The options are getting fewer and fewer in this category -- and fewer still for us 3-pedal drivers.

The Sonic you're driving has a smaller footprint than this Civic, I'd imagine. So this would feel like a "step-up" in size. I hope you really enjoy it!

PS - How do you like your Sonic? Is it also a six-speed?
With all due....the Cruze was never close. The cruze was good used car buy for your kid going off to college but dollar for dollar with the Civic/Corolla...it wasn't close.
The Cruze did fall a bit short (especially Gen 1 vehicles). How far short is always up to one's subjective opinion, but there's no doubt that as a used car, it's a great value.

And that's what ultimately ironic and frustrating about some of GM's past offerings. Depending on the vintage, and despite how good they may have been on paper, they often don't stack up when cross-shopped to their then-contemporary competitors. However, in the used-car market, quite often they present an incredible value and lots of "bang for the buck" once the vehicle has depreciated.

I'm in the used car market and looking at used cars from 1995 to 2015 as a general commuter car (I'm always looking for that "grandma" mobile that's 10+ years old and has only 30K miles on it :sneaky:). As a general sentiment, it's incredible to see how much car you get for the money when you're shopping used GM products (especially sedans). While I won't pretend that some vehicles were at the pinnacle of the automotive mountain when they were brand new, from a consumer/used-car perspective, there's a lot to appreciate when looking at used GM vehicles (and, to a similar degree, other domestic offerings).

How we get that phenomenon to translate to their vehicles when new? I don't have an answer for that, but Lord knows it's been an ongoing/decades-long fight. 🤷‍♂️ I only wish that GM's bean-counters and product planners eventually get it right. They deserve more attention.

Boy, Hyundai design just sucks. It's so busy and overdone. The Pontiac of today, lousy quality and all.
Hyundai's design direction looks very questionable in my eyes. Certainly is distinctive, but I don't find their direction good looking on any of their vehicles. I even find Toyota/Lexus' enormous cylon grill to be better executed (and that isn't saying much). Slashes, lights (Tuscon), grills, creases and folds everywhere - distinctive but not compelling.

I had my first chance to drive a Kia, a low milage 4 year old Sportage, and drove it back to back with my parents 10 year old Terrain. What a disappointment the Kia was after all the hype I've read (and I assume this hold true for Hyundai as they are the same company). Cheap materials, crude ride, rough engine - my parents felt like an S Class after the Sportage. All I could say is there were a lot of features for the money. Though 5+ years ago I did drive a Sonata and felt that was contemporary with the market.
I absolutely agree with the Hyundai styling comments. It's distinct, but not very attractive.

In my humble opinion, Kia has a much more handsome and cohesive family design language. To my subjective eye, it's not even close. If I were hell-bent on the packaging/price/features/etc of a particular Hyundai product, I'd almost immediately look to their corporate sibling for the equivalent vehicle, and buy the Kia version.

PS - Also good call on the "cylon" Lexus comment. I've read that the current "spindle" look is going to be axed soon and Lexus will unveil an all new design language soon. Can't come fast enough in my honest opinion. Not only do I feel like it's been played out, but I can only imagine they've sacrificed some sales volume to other brands over the controversial (and, perhaps, ugly) styling.
 

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I absolutely agree with the Hyundai styling comments. It's distinct, but not very attractive.

In my humble opinion, Kia has a much more handsome and cohesive family design language. To my subjective eye, it's not even close. If I were hell-bent on the packaging/price/features/etc of a particular Hyundai product, I'd almost immediately look to their corporate sibling for the equivalent vehicle, and buy the Kia version.

PS - Also good call on the "cylon" Lexus comment. I've read that the current "spindle" look is going to be axed soon and Lexus will unveil an all new design language soon. Can't come fast enough in my honest opinion. Not only do I feel like it's been played out, but I can only imagine they've sacrificed some sales volume to other brands over the controversial (and, perhaps, ugly) styling.
I hadn't heard that Lexus is getting rid of the Cylon/spindle - good choice on their part to dump it. A friend of mine had bought a Lexus CUV a few years ago - she said she hated the grill, but liked everything else. I've no doubts you are right that Lexus has lost sales due to the grill and their slash filled styling. Just like I think that awful shield grill did a lot of damage to Acura. I think the spindle grill worked well on the IS, but that's about it.

To me it seems like all of the Japanese brands follow each other. Acura started the ugly grill and Lexus' Cylon and Nissan's buck tooth followed as if to say "I can make something uglier". I assume Lexus will now tone it down as Acura has. I wonder if Toyota will change their grill too as it is somewhat spindle-like now.

I agree that Kia styling is a lot better looking than Hyundai! Given the choice of a Hyundai or Kia, I'd take the Kia any day.
 

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The options are getting fewer and fewer in this category -- and fewer still for us 3-pedal drivers.

The Sonic you're driving has a smaller footprint than this Civic, I'd imagine. So this would feel like a "step-up" in size. I hope you really enjoy it!

PS - How do you like your Sonic? Is it also a six-speed?

The Cruze did fall a bit short (especially Gen 1 vehicles). How far short is always up to one's subjective opinion, but there's no doubt that as a used car, it's a great value.

And that's what ultimately ironic and frustrating about some of GM's past offerings. Depending on the vintage, and despite how good they may have been on paper, they often don't stack up when cross-shopped to their then-contemporary competitors. However, in the used-car market, quite often they present an incredible value and lots of "bang for the buck" once the vehicle has depreciated.

I'm in the used car market and looking at used cars from 1995 to 2015 as a general commuter car (I'm always looking for that "grandma" mobile that's 10+ years old and has only 30K miles on it :sneaky:). As a general sentiment, it's incredible to see how much car you get for the money when you're shopping used GM products (especially sedans).

...
I've really enjoyed my 2015 1.8L/5sp Sonic sedan, and as I've said in other threads I would absolutely trade it in on an updated version if Chevy made such a thing. They don't make one, or the Cruze, so I'll have to go elsewhere for my next car.

To me, the 2022 Civic is almost "too big" ha ha! But one thing about the Sonic is it is fairly tall (about 3" taller than the Civic) which makes it seem bigger than it actually is when you're driving!

If you're into performance, by all means get the 1.4T/6sp and get it "tuned". Lots of reports of healthy power gains from tuning this little turbo. Some reports of failed turbos which is an expensive repair if not covered by warranty.

For me I'm fine with the simpler NA 1.8L. Max torque is around 3200RPM which means there's plenty of scoot on the highway around 75MPH for passing trucks etc. Plus the car is surprisingly quiet at those speeds for a small car.

Very reliable for me so far, the only issue has been a thermostat replaced under warranty. I've had the car for +6 years and 56K miles (not a ton of miles). .

All I can say is mine has treated me well, emphatically not for sale sorry! I'm definitely waiting for the current madness to blow over before even considering something new.

Maybe an older used car (say +5 yrs) is the only place where prices haven't gone crazy? Not sure.
 
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