2022 Honda Civic Hatchback First Drive Review: Demo Master


Trucks and SUVs dominate the American market. Sedans are hemorrhaging market share. Where do hatchbacks fit in? Should we even bother? Well, Honda bothers with them very much, especially with its all-new 2022 Civic Hatchback.

Survey says the eleventh-generation Civic is the top vehicle of choice for millennials, Gen Z, first-time vehicle owners, and multicultural buyers – that’s a huge and coveted set of demographics for one car to have a stranglehold on. Even better for Honda is that three out of four Civic buyers stay with the Honda brand. This car is a hell of a gateway drug. So, how does the hatchback come into play? To be frank, about 25 percent of the time. That’s the expected take rate with the five-door Civic. And the majority of those buyers are younger and more affluent than the sedan shoppers.

If my few days with the new Civic Hatch is any evidence, there’s more to those figures than the hopes and prayers of wishful marketing geeks – I’ve been approached by several of these multi-ethnic, tween-gen, first-time car buyers asking how much I’d sell my car for. Oh, plus the one Boomer at Costco who did a not-so-lowkey walk around the gas pump to check out the car. I admitted the vehicle wasn’t mine but even if it were, I wouldn’t sell it.

Quick Stats 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring
Engine: Turbocharged 1.5-liter I4
Output: 180 Horsepower / 177 Pound-Feet
Cargo Volume: 24.5 Cubic Feet
Base Price: $22,900 + $1,015
As-Tested Price: $30,810

Gallery: 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback: First Drive

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback First Drive Review: Demo Master

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2022 Honda Civic Hatchback First Drive Review: Demo Master 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback First Drive Review: Demo Master 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback First Drive Review: Demo Master 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback First Drive Review: Demo Master 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback First Drive Review: Demo Master 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback First Drive Review: Demo Master 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback First Drive Review: Demo Master

The Honda Civic Hatchback, like its sedan sibling, has grown up in the design department by toning down its backward mullet. Too much party in the front was the theme of the previous generation, so all anyone seemed to talk about was a face that only a mother could love. But that’s not to say the new Civic is a wallflower.

The design remains distinctive compared to its peers. The Civic’s angular characteristics didn’t go completely away, which lends to its overall handsome styling. In particular, the new-for-2022 honeycomb grille design is a nice change-up from the step ladder-esque vibe the previous model showcased. And, thankfully, these are not true-to-life hexagonal shapes of a honey bee cell. The grille openings are large enough to actually clean through without needing special tools (i.e., cotton swab). This also means it’s less likely to be an unsightly bug graveyard during road trips.

When comparing the fraternal twins, both Civic body styles exhibit the same height (55.7 inches) and width (70.9 inches), but the hatchback is five inches shorter in overall length (179 inches). The trimmer footprint yields better proportions, with the Civic Hatchback’s short fastback roofline evoking a sports coupe profile instead of a traditional long wagon silhouette.

The new hatchback also has a shorter rear overhang versus the old hatch, and its rear beltline is 1.4 inches lower. The fender is an inch closer to the ground, as well, and designers pulled the A-pillars back about two inches. Finally, a single, strong character line runs the length of the vehicle. Small adjustments that lead to big change. The Civic hatch looks and feels lower, leaner, sportier, and just a touch safer.

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See Better, Sip Faster

From the driver’s seat, the Civic’s greenhouse offers nearly zero blind spots. Honda expanded the view out the front windshield by three degrees and the side windows feel massive thanks to the door-mounted outside mirrors.

Honda also added a rear quarter window for even more visibility. The only ding is the liftgate window. Small and raked, looking at the rearview mirror all of a sudden gives me slight claustrophobia. The seemingly tiny viewing area is more pronounced in the rain when the rear wiper clears but a squint of a view. Is that a fair trade off for 24.5 cubic feet of space (9.7 more than the Sedan)? That's up to you, dear reader.

But in sticking with the mature design theme, the interior is striking in its subduedness. The infotainment display is now a boxtop setup rather than implanted within the center console. Honda even thought to create a handrest ledge for when tapping away at the touchscreen commands. Well, it’s a nice idea in theory. What I found myself doing was inadvertently selecting a bottom-row shortcut when I’d rest my hand there.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback First Drive Review: Demo Master

The exterior’s honeycomb motif makes its way indoors as an insert that runs almost the length of the dash. Not only is it a work of metallic art but the panel cleverly hides the HVAC vents and audio speakers to give the entire a clean, seamless look. But not much is done in the rear. Still no vents back there, but you do get two USB charging ports as a concession.

The cupholders are one baffling design blunder. They’re perfect for a grande cup of sweet foam cold brew but terrible for the standard half-liter water bottle or a medium-size fountain drink. The enclosure is too shallow to effectively contain taller containers – water bottles will lean and change direction based on the vehicle’s movements. I’m not asking for a chasm to accommodate a Double Gulp. I just want to get my 16-ounce Baja Blast home safely.

This is specific to the CVT-equipped Civic, by the way, as its cupholders are placed to the right of the shifter. With a manual transmission, Honda positioned the cupholders behind the shift knob and recessed against the center storage bin.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback First Drive Review: Demo Master
2022 Honda Civic Hatchback First Drive Review: Demo Master
2022 Honda Civic Hatchback First Drive Review: Demo Master

It’s Okay To Be Normal

Thankfully, the Civic does a better job at being a car than being a drink caddy. The hatchback is available in LX, Sport, EX-L, and Sport Touring. LX and Sport models carry a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that offers 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque, while Honda reserved a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder with 180 hp and 177 lb-ft for EX-L and Sport Touring trims.

The most significant disparity between the hatchback and sedan is the choice of transmissions. Meaning, with the five-door Civic you actually have a choice. A continuously variable transmission is standard on LX and EX-L models while Sport and Sport Touring carry a six-speed manual. Honda expects as much as a 10-percent take rate on the manual transmission hatchback. The CVT is available, though, as a no-cost option. I was able to try out both transmissions on a top-of-the-line Civic Sport Touring hatchback.

Thankfully, the Civic does a better job at being a car than being a drink caddy.

My short jaunt with the stick shift was a sweet one. Even if southeast Michigan is known for its lack of dynamic roads, the Civic hatch remains engaging. The six-speed box’s shifts were short and precise with a familiar “click” accompanying every gear change. The clutch was likely engineered by Goldilocks – beginners will find it firm but forgiving, while seasoned rowers will appreciate the pliability. There’s no break-in period. It’s simply an easy clutch you get accustomed to quickly, an instant master of no-stall, multi-point turns on tight country roads.

With the manual transmission, ECON is the only selectable drive mode. As with other Civic models, it reduces the throttle and transmission sensitivity and even adjusts HVAC settings to prioritize fuel economy.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback First Drive Review: Demo Master

CVT-equipped Sport and Sport Touring models carry paddle shifters for manual shifting and gain a Sport drive mode that changes the transmission behavior and throttle mapping for a more dynamic feel. It also disables the idle-stop system. The instrument cluster lighting also changes to red accents to add to the thrill. How it felt, however, was that I was traveling in the wrong gear all the time.

At highway speeds (and then some), when left to its own devices, Sport kept the CVT in its artificial sixth gear, where it sounded thoroughly unhappy. I toggled up into “seventh gear” and, surprise, everyone was better. Conclusion: Don’t let the CVT dictate your sporty driving. But be wary, as the the paddle shifters are steering wheel-mounted – when turning, you’ll be in first until your hands aren’t in an awkward position.

Don’t let the CVT dictate your sporty driving.

To that end, I preferred keeping the drive mode in Normal with the CVT. The Civic, in general, is a solid performer, and has there ever been much to complain about regarding its driving manners? Honda improved the vehicle’s torsional rigidity by 19 percent and made its rear suspension 17 percent stiffer making the Hatchback the sharpest eleventh-gen Civic so far. Steering feel isn’t lazy, with plenty of feedback for when you want to drive with enthusiasm. And even when you don’t, the Civic doesn’t revert into some boring daily driver.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback First Drive Review: Demo Master
2022 Honda Civic Hatchback First Drive Review: Demo Master

Pricing Points

For all of its updates, the next-generation Honda Civic hatchback did jump in price, though the distribution of the increases is rather sporadic. The base LX starts at $22,900, up by $900. The EX-L trim is up $2,100 to $26,600. The manual-equipped Sport and Sport Touring increased by $1,000 each to start at $24,100 and $29,400, respectively. But because there’s no charge for the CVT, those models’ year-over-year increase is only $200. Destination fees are up, too. For the Civic hatchback, you can tack on an extra $1,015 to every unit, up from $955.

All in, a fully-loaded Civic Hatchback Sport Touring CVT will cost $30,810 if you opt for a premium paint ($395). But there aren’t any packages to add extra in-car tech, creature comforts, or safety equipment. Only accessories like all-weather gear or a Honda Performance Development body kit. The new standard safety features alone are worth the extra monies. For 2022, the Honda Sensing suite now includes traffic jam assist and traffic sign recognition as standard along with a new single-camera system, which, from experience, is better at seeing the road and lane markings than you are during a torrential downpour.

Study Civics:

Honda sold 261,225 Civics in the U.S. during 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which put it in second place behind the CR-V with 22 percent of the brand’s sales. Against other compact cars, the Civic is undoubtedly first. Toyota sold 116,915 Corollas and Hyundai sold 105,475 Elantras. The Mazda3 and Subaru Impreza combined don’t equal six figures, and some automakers don’t offer hatchbacks or simply don’t play anymore (i.e., Ford Focus). If car sales are losing ground, don’t tell that to the Civic. Or to the 30-something looking to buy into their forever car brand.