Let's play a game. Without Googling, how many manual hatchbacks are still being sold at this moment in the United States? Not that many, right? My own brain informs me that they are the Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3, Hyundai Veloster N, Subaru Impreza hatch, and this, the 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback. They're a dying breed, these humble and accommodating cars, so it's important to make sure the ones that are still sticking around remain good and worth buying.
Honda got the memo, clearly. The new Civic hatch takes everything I loved about the previous-gen Civic hatch, modernizes it a bit, or just leaves it the hell alone. Don't fix what isn't broken, et cetera. It's a wonderfully practical car, doesn't try to be something it isn't, and, if you option it with the manual, can be quite a bit of fun, too.
Who said you can't have it all?
2022 Honda Civic Hatchback Specs
- Base price (Sport Touring as tested): $23,915 ($30,810)
- Powertrain: 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder | 6-speed manual | front-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 180 @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque: 177 lb-ft @ 1,700 to 4,500 rpm
- Curb weight: 3,036 pounds
- Seating capacity: 5
- Cargo volume: 24.5 cubic feet
- EPA fuel economy: 28 mpg city | 37 highway | 31 combined
- Quick take: In terms of affordability, practicality, design (heyo 11th-gen!), and fun, the Honda Civic hatch can't be beat. It can be a little loud on the highway and the seats could use slightly more cushioning, but there's really no losing if you get this car.
- Score: 8.5/10
The all-new, 11th-generation Honda Civic—for which you can find a very thorough run-down here—is available as a sedan, a hatchback, as the Si, and will soon be revealed in Type R guise. A perennially popular compact economy car, the Civic is no longer the elfin thing you might remember from the early '70s. The current iteration is slightly bigger than the outgoing one but in practice and can only really be considered "compact" in name only. That fact is most obvious when you load up the back seat with parents and the trunk with luggage as I did.
Being the hatchback, the car's rear profile is far more sloped in shape as compared to its sedan siblings. Honda says it moved the trunk's hinge mechanism further outward so that it could pull the roof height down by 50mm. To differentiate it from the sedan, the hatch wears a slightly concave, unique grille mesh design. The hatch also loses 4.9 inches of length over the sedan thanks to a shorter rear overhang and overall length. Haters of the 10th-gen Civic will be glad to know the new Civic's toned-down design language translates well to a hatchback design.
The interior features the Civic's new cabin layout, one that's intuitively arranged and easy to use. The driver can enjoy excellent forward and side visibility owing to the fact that the 11th-gen Civic scooted the A-pillars back slightly. Here in the hatch, though, rear passengers can enjoy 1.4 more inches of legroom with no change to headroom because of that new hinge placement.
Four trims are available: LX, Sport, EX-L, and Sport Touring. LX and Sport trims come with the naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder motor that's good for a claimed 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. (Those with model-year 2021 and 2022 spec sheets open at the same time will note that 2022's base engines decreased in power from 2021's base engines.) The upper EX-L and Sport Touring trims come with the more powerful, 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces a claimed 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. A manual transmission is indeed available if you don't want the CVT, but it's only possible to get on the Sport or Sport Touring trims.
Driving the Honda Civic Hatchback
There are plenty of cars today that try and subvert what it is to be a car. (Generally, these are the spawn of automakers pivoting to become "mobility" companies.) The Honda Civic hatch is not one of those cars. It performs the very admirable acts of getting you, your people, and your stuff from one destination to the next with little hassle and drama. Even looking out from the car is great; you can position the driver's seat nice and high and the low hood stays well out of your line of sight.
I cannot overstate how the manual transmission made even local jaunts enjoyable. Even though the Civic hatch is technically an economy car, Honda still made its shifter throws heavy and rewarding. The lever clunks into the gates in a real substantive way that makes you want to do it all the time. Grocery run? Can't wait to shift. Pop over to the gas station? I get to use second, third, and fourth! Pick up Mom from the airport? I love shifting in this car! Relatedly, rev-matching is easy in the forgiving Civic, though you do have to be mindful of rev-hang.
The clutch is weighted perfectly—just stiff enough that it doesn't feel like you're driving something flimsy, and light enough that a few hours of stop-and-go traffic won't completely tire out your left leg. The brakes grab in a very predictable kind of way, the steering is direct, and the 3,000-pound body feels light and tossable even though the engine doesn't make more than 200 hp. Weighed down, though, you do need to be more aware of the car's powerband and what gear you're in because things can feel noticeably gutless in an improperly high gear while the car attempts a gentle incline.
As a highway cruiser, there was some road and wind noise that make their way into the cabin but not to the point where it drowned out passenger conversation. The Civic was perfectly happy to sit at speed in top gear, its revs chilling down low, hardly burning any fuel, while the miles melted away. Commutes are that much more enjoyable in a car that's easy to drive. But more than that, there was no requirement to make the Civic hatch as fun as it is but Honda did it anyway. Bless it.
The Highs and Lows
I was smug driving the Civic hatch around because there's a dearth of affordable, fun cars and it's the antidote to that problem. I was another monster altogether when it came to packing it with people and things. Into this Honda disappeared four adults, one full-size suitcase, two medium-size suitcases, one small suitcase, two backpacks, two purses, a bag of groceries, and four winter coats. We were four people who'd packed for a weekend away and we pulled it off—everything and everyone fit. And the car gets more than 30 mpg combined. People buy big cars as insurance for when they'll "need that space one day," which I disagree with but find fair. But I'd bet the Civic hatch is more than enough for the majority of jobs we demand of our cars. The interior is truly this car's greatest asset. Besides the roominess, it's also ergonomic and features physical buttons and dials.
I'm not sure if it was the type of seat that came in the Sport Touring trim, but I did find that my ass was sore after a few hours of sitting in the Civic hatch. Just like in the Hyundai Veloster N and Genesis G80, there just wasn't adequate cushioning for long drives. I would have also preferred a physical handbrake over the electronic one since this was a manual Honda, after all. Moreover, I did try and drive the car up a small mountain in Vermont in about four inches of snow. We got stuck. But upon Attempt Two, we did manage to full-send it up the road and to the house. I won't ding the car for getting stuck, though; it had on a set of all-seasons whereas the task would have been no problem at all with a nice set of winters. This has been your friendly winter tires PSA.
Honda Civic Hatch Features, Options, and Competition
Standard Honda Civic hatchbacks share a lot of their hardware with the Civic sedan. They both include the 2.0-liter base motor, the CVT, a seven-inch touchscreen, and cloth seats. There's also a tire pressure-monitoring system, halogen headlights, LED DRLs, lane-departure warning and collision-mitigation braking system, and cruise control. Base Civic hatch prices start at $23,915. The test car came in the top-tier Sport Touring trim (starting MSRP of $30,415) and included the more powerful engine, the six-speed manual, a nine-inch touchscreen, the premium Bose sound system, a 10.2-inch driver information gauge cluster, an eight-way powered driver's seat, a four-way powered front passenger's seat, heated front seats, and a leather-trimmed interior. The only additional option on the test car was its Sonic Gray paint for $395. Total MSRP came to $30,810.
The Honda Civic hatch directly competes against the Subaru Impreza hatch, Mazda 3 hatch, and the Toyota Corolla hatch. True, all these cars come with manual options, but the Civic has the most usable interior room. Base Civic hatches make similar power as the competition do but pull away with the option of the turbocharged engine. The Honda Civic is also the newest model of the bunch, as the 11th generation was introduced just this year—yet the only downside of that fact is that the Civic hatch's base price is also the highest of the bunch. I do very much think you get something good for what you pay for, however.
There's no hybrid or electric option for the Civic (that I know of yet, anyway), which is honestly fine. Additional batteries and motors would only add weight, complexity, and cost—all things antithetical to what a Civic should be. And frankly, the car's gas mileage is already impressive in its own right. The less powerful 2.0-liter, when hooked up to the CVT, returns 30 mpg in the city, 38 mpg on the highway, and 33 mpg combined. The turbocharged 1.5-liter, when also combined with the CVT, returns 30 mpg in the city, 37 mpg on the highway, and 33 mpg combined. Those figures drop very slightly when you pair the engines with a manual transmission, but not by much. Outfit your Civic with the cloth seats and be on your merry, lesser-guilt way.
Honda currently does not offer any plug-in, battery-electric cars in the U.S. market like Tesla, Hyundai, Ford, and Volkswagen do but it offers plenty of hybrid cars such as the Insight, Accord hybrid, CR-V hybrid, Clarity plug-in hybrid, and Clarity fuel-cell car (which you can only lease and fill up nowhere but California). It's a pretty bleak list to head into 2022 with, but Honda's CEO has made noise about wanting to pivot the company to 100 percent EV sales here by 2040. We'll see if that winds up happening.
Value and Verdict
The nearly $31,000 price tag on the test car was a bit steep for me because I don't need Sport Touring-specific things like a fancy sound system, powered seats, and a leather interior. Unfortunately, though, that's the only way you can get the turbocharged engine with the manual transmission. Honda got me there. The things we do for fun.
But that's just me. The 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback is so much more than just a mere engine and transmission combination. There's a reason why the Civic is consistently the best-selling small car in the U.S. Regardless of trim, the hatch version is still a wildly practical everyday car that returns excellent gas mileage and also comes with Honda's bulletproof reputation for reliability. The fact that this generation's model is quite a handsome vehicle is just a bonus. Put aside the big and unnecessary cars. Be part of the compact economy movement. Be smug.
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