Pros and Cons: 2022 Honda Civic – drives like a front-wheel drive BMW, better interior than a Mazda
Hans · May 5, 2022 11:07 AM
If market research data is the all-knowing sage predicting what consumers will buy next, then the FE-generation 2022 Honda Civic should have been a flop. According to market data, consumers are moving away from low riding sedans to embrace higher seating position SUVs.
Clearly the Honda Civic didn’t get the memo. Much has been said about sedans falling out favour among consumers but ask BMW or Mercedes-Benz if they are willing to drop the 3 Series or the C-Class. So while demand for SUVs are growing, it’s not (just) because consumers don’t like sedans anymore.
The other reason for the hollowing out of the sedan market is because prices D-segment executive sedans like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry have gone up significantly over the last 10 years, while C-segment sedans have been made redundant by today’s very-refined, overachieving B-segment sedans like the Honda City and Toyota Vios.
Many consumers can no longer afford to buy a new sedan and migrating to a similar-priced SUV makes sense because it’s not seen as a downgrade from their current car.
So to survive, C-segment sedans need to grow up, to fill the gap of what an executive sedan used to do, which is exactly what the 2022 Honda Civic has done.
Gone is the slightly adolescent, Gundam-inspired styling of the FC-generation Honda Civic, replaced with very mature Audi-esque styling queues. On the road, the Civic FE looks fantastically well chiseled and won’t be too out of place on a bank’s premiere customer parking spot.
We’ve recently sampled the range-topping 2022 Honda Civic RS. It’s a relatively short daytime-only drive, shared with 3 drivers, so this is not an in-depth review (that will come later, along with our instrumented testing data) but a good-enough first impression on public roads.
Prices and details of features of the 2022 Honda Civic range can be found in our earlier post below.
The 2022 Honda Civic FE now rides quieter than ever before, with a very European-like damping character.
The cabin remains a very quiet place to be in even at 130 km/h (we’re not saying that you should do that, but that’s the bandwidth of its cruising talent). Our test car came with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres.
It is only when you push it closer to 140 km/h that you get reminded that you are still in a Honda and not a W206 Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
On rougher pockmarked surfaces that typifies our local city streets, the Civic glides over rough patches without jolting its occupants.
Mid-corners, the steering is well-weighted, thereby addressing the one of the biggest complaint with the previous Civic. It’s sharp enough for corners without being too nervous on long straight roads.
Lateral motion has a hint of BMW-ness, especially the front-wheel drive ones.
The previous Civic FC was fast on straights but its light steering makes it hard to tell what the front wheels are doing and its wide tyres only serves to mask the lack of genuine talent on the twisty bits.
This latest Civic however, traces corners in ways that will make BMW owners to secretly raise an eyebrow, but won’t openly acknowledge.
But that’s not the biggest improvement. The honour goes to the new seats. Honda cars might be known for its superior interior space but seat comfort is a weakness for many Honda models, except for the Civic.
The previous Civic's seats were grossly lacking in lower thigh support. This one offers very good support throughout your body. It’s still not as good as the Toyota Corolla Altis, but it’s certainly better than the Honda Accord's.
Even the front passenger seat has been significantly improved too, though it still has less lower-thigh support than the driver’s seat.
Another plus point is that hip point is now higher than the previous FC generation model, thus making getting in and out of the car easier, even though it’s not an SUV.
Pros: An interior that’s better than a Mazda 3
Before this, the Mazda 3’s interior was the segment’s benchmark. The 2022 Honda Civic’s interior matches about 90 percent of the Mazda 3’s premium appeal, but with 150 percent more space (numbers not be taken literally).
Controls and switches are intuitive enough to use. The infotainment screen (supports wireless Apple CarPlay) has higher resolution graphics and it’s a big step up from Toyota’s after-market-like presentation and low resolution reverse camera video.
If there’s one complaint, it would be cleaning the honeycomb-mesh pattern dashboard.
The finishing looks pretty but cleaning every nook and cranny of the mesh is a job best left to auto detailers.
There's ample cubby holes in front of the cabin and at the front door pockets, making this a much more practical car than the tight Mazda 3.
Legroom and headroom at the rear is also comfortable enough for long distance drives.
Pros: Honda Sensing’s ACC and LSF works like a charm
We’ve sampled both the adaptive cruise control (ACC, for highways) and Low Speed Follow (LSF, for traffic jams). We like how Honda Sensing’s controls and user interface are more intuitive than the Toyota Corolla Altis’.
Its partial digital (speedometer is analogue) display and high good quality graphics make it easy to make quick, at-a-glance status checks compared to the Toyota Corolla Altis.
The Low Speed Follow traffic jam assist function works smoothly in our local traffic. The feature automatically manages braking and acceleration to maintain a safe distance with slow moving traffic in front.
Like all advance driving aids, Honda Sensing cannot replace the driver. The system cannot respond fast enough to vehicles approaching from extreme angles at the sides, or in bad weather, poor visibility at night.
The driver must always be responsible. ACC, LSF, and LKAS only serve to reduce fatigue.
On highways, ACC reacts fast to changing traffic conditions, braking action is smooth yet confidence inspiring. ACC works well even when the road is curving (within reasonable limits).
As for active lane keeping assist (LKAS), it has a tendency to keep the vehicle a bit more to the left-side of the lane, because regulations dictate that vehicles (and motorcycles) overtake on the right. This is a common trait in all LKAS-like feature in all cars but it's a bit unsuitable for our driving conditions, so we left this turned off most of the time.
The new Civic FE uses a camera-only setup that covers a much wider 100-degree range. This is much wider than the previous Civic FC’s milimetre wave radar (20 degree detection angle) and monocular camera combo (50 degree detection angle.
As an extension to that, CMBS (autonomous emergency braking, AEB) also works on cross junctions, or when the vehicle is turning. It’s able to detect motorcycles too.
Cons: No sensitivity adjustment for FCW / CMBS
So we’ve said how much we love the new Civic. Now let’s go to the negatives.
Right at the top of our complaint is the overly sensitive Forward Collision Warning (FCW). Somehow, we find the new Civic’s FCW trigger more often than in other Honda models.
For example, you could be merging into traffic or switching lanes, and the FCW warning buzzer will come on a little too early when you slip behind another car.
Unfortunately, there’s no Early-Normal-Late settings for FCW, so you to either turn CMBS off completely or tolerate the annoying warning chime.
The Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) works fine enough though, with not a single false trigger experienced even when driving on tight, motorcycles-everywhere Penang streets.
Cons: At over RM 140k, it’s priced like what a Honda Accord used to be
We’ve said earlier that the Honda Civic has seats that are better than the Honda Accord’s. Well that’s also because the Civic FE is now priced like what the 9th generation Accord used to in 2013.
The base Civic 1.5 E is priced at RM 125,634, with mid-range (our pick of the range) 1.5 V priced at RM 138,043, and the range topping 1.5 RS at RM 144,350.
Prices are expected to go up even more after 30-June 2022.
The base model is almost acceptable, if you can live with a 4-speaker setup. Otherwise it’s pretty decent as it comes with Honda Sensing but minus LaneWatch and Lead Car Departure Notification – the latter tells you to put down your phone and get moving because the car ahead has driven off.
Since the RS has an unnecessarily long waiting list (between 4 to 5 months at point of publishing), the V variant is our pick of the range.
Cons: Transmission can sometimes be caught off guard
For the record, I have absolutely no problem with the Civic’s CVT – it’s smooth, quiet, and fuel efficient (averaged 7.9-litre/100 km after 180 km distance, with 3 adults and their bags, driven at not-so-legal speeds).
This criticism has nothing to do with it being a CVT, but the transmission’s slow response to sudden acceleration.
You could be cruising along on the left lane and notice a slow heavy vehicle ahead. There’s a healthy gap on the right for you overtake but you have to gun it now. So you floor the throttle but to your surprise, nothing happens. You floor it one more time, only now does the transmission selects a lower (virtual) gear ratio.
This happened twice during our drive, but it’s probably because the Drive Mode was set to Normal instead of Sport. Still, in any car, full throttle application is supposed to initiate a kickdown regardless of drive mode setting.
It's a small issue though, because the car comes with paddle shifters, so make use of it.
Conclusion – Nothing comes close to matching the 2022 Honda Civic’s overall package
Overall, the pros outweigh the cons, by a huge margin. It’s very hard to find one compelling reason to not buy the Honda Civic.
Yes, one can argue that Honda’s after-sales and built quality is slightly behind Toyota’s, but whether is that a strong enough reason for you to settle for lesser alternatives is for you to decide.
As far as the product is concerned, no other car comes close enough to matching the Honda Civic’s overall package – style, premium interior, space and comfort, practicality, resale value, performance, handling, ease of use, the Civic aces every measure of comparison.