The average automotive consumer probably dismisses “best of” and general industry type of awards as either bought and paid for or completely pointless. In some cases that may be true. But to win the North American Car of the Year (NACOY) is an honor and is most certainly not bought and paid for. The process to make it to finalist is grueling and the competition is tough. And no, I am not a member of the NACOY jury, but have the utmost respect for those who are.
So when they selected the 2022 Honda Civic as NACOY it should indicate that this is a car that should get attention. Obviously the Civic is a legendary nameplate and has won the award in the past too. But for 2022 the Civic faces a total redesign and clearly members of the jury took note, and so did I after spending a week with it.
The competition is still tough in the compact car segment, although the number of entries is waning as more automakers jump out of the “car” making segment and focus on SUVs and trucks only. Honda has stayed engaged in the segment, as they should, with the highly competitive and viable Civic. And in 2022 it has bold new looks and a refreshed persona.
The best part of the redesign is that the exterior is clearly modern and updated, but also designed so that it will remain so. There’s nothing gimmicky or frilly on this car. It’s just stylish and handsome. And yes it still has that youthful vibe that has made it a big draw for all these years.
When it comes to performance, there are two engine options for the Civic. I only drove one, but by all accounts it’s by far the most preferred option. The base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with only 158 horsepower. However, my tester was the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder with almost 30 more horses available. Turbocharging is the way to go in cars like this, heck it’s the way to go in almost any of today’s vehicles.
The 180 horsepower engine is punchy and responsive. It’s quick off the line (or quick enough). The continuously variable transmission (CVT) does an admirable job and has little to no turbo lag. But still the quirks and annoyances of CVT technology drive me crazy and I’ve yet to find a CVT I like, and the Civic doesn’t change that opinion.
The interior is where the Civic likely won over some NACOY jurors. Prior generations of the Civic were bland, dull and generally forgettable. This new iteration is exciting with a lot of value and high-quality touchpoints. Plus the design elements inside, especially on the dash and the vents add intrigue. The honeycomb-like dash that ensconces the vents is thoroughly modern with little joysticks positioned to guide the airflow.
This felt more like a luxury car in that regard than an econo-car like the Civic. For this they get marks. Plus the infotainment system is updated and simple to use. Other automakers could learn from Honda to keep things simple and not over engineer this technology. The 9-inch color touchscreen is responsive and intuitive and there’s a 12-speaker Bose sound system that is outstanding.
There’s 14.8 cubic feet of trunk space in the Civic and it expands to 24.5 with a 60/40 split rear seat which is tremendous for a vehicle this size.
There are four trims in total, with the base LX starting under $24,000. My tester was the top-tier Touring trim with a starting price of $28,300. It’s loaded with various sensor-based safety features that add technology and peace of mind, including things like adaptive cruise control, collision mitigated braking, traffic jam assist and lane departure warning.
The punchier turbocharged Civic has a fuel economy rating of 31 mpg/city and 38 mpg/highway. I averaged nearly 35 mpg in my week with it, driving mostly in the suburbs and a little on the highway.
The Civic is a steady, consistent performer that has managed to remain relevant for decades while also still wowing critics and winning awards. That’s impressive considering where the industry is going. The Civic feels like a car from the past, yet still feels fresh.
Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @driversside
2022 Honda Civic Touring
Price/As tested price................................................ $28,300/$28,300
Mileage.......................................... 31 mpg/city; 38 mpg/hwy
Engine............................................. 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower................................. 180 hp/177 lbs./ft.
Drive Wheels................ Front-wheel drive
Final Assembly Point................ Alliston, Ontario
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