In a time when the future of the sedan is in doubt, the 2022 Honda Civic doubles down with a more mature design, a promise of additional features, and all the sporty charm enthusiasts of compact Hondas love. It is being previewed by the Civic Prototype pictured here, which is said to closely shade the 11th-generation Honda Civic’s look.
Wait, That’s Not A Honda Civic Concept—Is It?
For the uninitiated, Honda typically produces “prototypes” such as this rather than truly wild concept cars. Standing in for an unrestrained vision of the future, these design previews are essentially the final production cars with a few flourishes that will get toned down a bit by the time you can actually buy one, meaning the Civic prototype is really a thinly veiled peek at what basically will be at your local Honda dealer this spring, though Honda says it incorporates exclusive styling cues from both the sedan and hatchback body styles.
At first look, it strikes you as a more mature and fully realized evolution of the previous-generation Civic’s styling. A little softer, a little cleaner, and a little sleeker, it comes across as less boy racer and more working professional. It hasn’t lost its sporty stance, though. The hood has been lowered an inch at the base of the windshield, and the A-pillars and windshield have been pushed back 2 inches to make the car look longer and lower. A slightly lower C-pillar gives the roof a racier rake, and a standard stamped-in ducktail spoiler on the trunk completes the look. There’s a distinct note of Audi sedan in the rear, and that’s a compliment; zoom out, and there are more similarities to the larger Accord sedan than before, particularly in the bodyside shoulder crease, headlights, and up-kicked rear quarter windows.
The LED headlights and taillights are likely to be standard, too, as Honda chases an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award. Although it doesn’t count toward safety award criteria, designers also moved the mirrors down to the doors to make it easier to see around the impossibly thin A-pillars.
A More Civil Civic Interior
Looks aside, the car is nearly the same size as before. The wheelbase and overall length have been stretched slightly, but the overall width and height are unchanged despite the styling differences. The curb weight and interior dimensions are likewise about the same, though the rear seat is reclined slightly to duck under the sloping roof.
The front seats are where the real action is. Although Honda has only released a sketch, it’s a night-and-day difference. Gone is the outgoing Civic’s young, racy vibe, replaced with a far sleeker and more sophisticated design. Of particular note is the Deco-like honeycomb mesh running across the center of the dashboard, a design focal point that cleverly obscures the air vents. Above it, a freestanding infotainment system retains its volume knob and measures 9.0 inches. It’s complemented by the first all-digital dash Honda has offered in a Civic. Honda promises a raft of technology, as well, including upgrades to the standard HondaSense suite of active and passive driver aids, but details weren’t forthcoming.
A Sportier, Slicker Civic
Beneath the skin, Honda people describe the new Civic’s platform as an evolution of the current underpinnings rather than a rethink, and that’s no bad thing. The chassis has been stiffened, and Honda promises suspension upgrades that will come across as more “sophisticated sporty” than the current car’s “playful sporty,” in the words of one product planner.
Whatever kind of sportiness it is, it’ll be best represented in hatchback form. The coupe body style is dead as buyers have shifted to the hatchback, particularly those looking for sportier models. As such, the hatchback will continue to offer a manual transmission, and the sedan, with the notable exception of the Si model, will only come with an automatic. Similarly, the Type R will continue to be a hatchback with a manual transmission. No model or body style will offer all-wheel drive, despite this feature creeping into more compact competitors.
Don’t expect any hybrids, either. The Honda Insight is effectively a Civic hybrid by another name, and it will continue as a separate nameplate for the foreseeable future. Other than that, Honda won’t talk about what’s under the new Civic’s hood yet except to say it’ll be more powerful and more efficient. We expect an upgraded version of the current 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder from the current car to be the base engine (meaning today’s entry-level non-turbo 2.0-liter four is probably out); the Si will likely continue to get a high-output version of the same turbo engine. Similarly, we think the Type R will get an upgraded 2.0-liter turbo like the current car. An continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) will probably still be standard, with a six-speed manual available for the sporty models.
Likewise, Honda won’t talk about pricing yet except to say it won’t change much. The current car starts at $22,005. We’ll know more about that, the powertrains, and the tech when Honda reveals the production-ready 2022 Civic early next year ahead of its late spring on-sale date.