2022 Honda Civic Prototype Is Still Cool but Surprisingly Sophisticated

America’s most popular compact car looks to hold on to its sales crown with elongated proportions and a clean, minimalistic interior design.

  • Today’s 2022 Civic prototype, unveiled, does not grow bigger, but will provide more performance, safety, and standard features.
  • A larger 9.0-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities, a digital gauge cluster, and a higher number of airbags are new features.

The 11th-generation Civic sedan, with hatchback, Si, and Type R models to follow, will arrive late next spring.

Honda has just announced its 11th-generation Honda Civic concept. With less curves, signs borrowed from the larger Accord, and an interior with a sleek, minimalistic aesthetic, the 2022 Civic will feature a more formal exterior. Sales of the sedan will start late next spring, and the line-up of the compact will ultimately include a hatchback, a hotter Si version, and a high-performance Type R. The coupe will not rise from the ashes at the end of the 2020 model year.

Since 1973, the Civic has been an integral part of Honda’s lineup, but the 11th generation has big shoes to fill. Perhaps the most effective Civic ever is its predecessor. Since its release in 2016, it has dominated its class, consistently reaching a 20 percent market share, and has racked up sales of 1.5 million units so far. For the past four years, with millennials, Gen Z, and first-time car buyers, Honda claims it has become the best-selling car in America, outperforming rivals like the Toyota Corolla, the Hyundai Elantra, the Mazda3, and the Volkswagen Jetta.

Further complicating the new Civic’s job description is the discontinuation of the Fit following the 2020 model year. It once again makes the Civic the brand’s most affordable entry point. According to Honda spokesperson Carl Pulley, its pricing will reflect that new role. “The 2022 Civic will also get more standard feature content,” he says, also claiming it will perform “even better than its predecessor” in handling, engine performance, overall dynamics, and crash protection

Next spring, Honda will announce the final 2022 Civic sedan closer to its on-sale date. The prototype shown here is visually precise, but without any interior, suspension, or powertrain, it is a roller. It’s also a mishmash of components, but not necessarily the production sedan, that will eventually be seen on its many versions. This include its paint and its black mirrors, pillars, and trim in the Solar Flare Pearl. Two oval exhaust tips and a pair of 10-spoke matte black 19-inch wheels are also included, all of which are possibly Si or Type R hardware. They wear a beefy collection of 235/35ZR-19 sized Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires here.

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The 10th generation was the biggest Civic yet and the first to use a worldwide platform, introduced in 2016. The new car is changing from the current chassis, which presumably means that, as in the new Acura TLX and MDX, it will not return to a control-arm front suspension. Uh, bummer. Instead, we expect wider use of the current Type R’s clever dual-axis strut front suspension, which removes torque steering by separating steering and suspension functions mechanically.

It also means that the Civic, which is already the stretch limousine of the compact class, is no bigger than that. Honda hasn’t messed much with its proportions, although it appears longer, lower, and wider than its immensely famous predecessor. It is the same in height and width as before, and just about an inch wider. Its wheelbase has been extended a little more than an inch, but there is no improvement in interior space. “Rear legroom remains the same,” says Dan Calhoun, senior Honda planner for the four-door Civic and Si. “But the longer wheelbase allowed us to increase the rake of the rear seat slightly for more comfort.” Trunk space is about the same as well.

Moving its A-pillar back two inches not only elongates its nose, it has given the Civic an almost rear-wheel-drive-style appearance, although it will be a front-wheel-drive car, of course. Honda has also widened its rear track by about half an inch. Previously with Mazda, where he was responsible for the execution of the current CX-5, the brand’s top seller, Calhoun has only been with Honda for three years. When we bring up the possible availability of all-wheel drive, he says, “There will be no all-wheel drive at launch.” This gave us hope, but another spokesman later denied to Car and Driver that there are plans for an AWD version.

The Civic’s nose also looks longer because it is. Its front overhang has increased about an inch, while its rear overhang is shorter by about the same amount. LED headlamps and taillights are production units and connected by a hard, crisp line that runs the length of the car. The only chrome on the prototype is found on the two Honda badges and the Civic badge on its decklid.

Calhoun also points out the built-in rear spoiler of the concept, which removes a cutline that he thinks is an eyesore on the current car, and the black trim that slims the A-pillars visually. That’s a cool little fact. Also, the side mirrors were pushed down to the doors.

More significant, Pulley confirms that their clutch pedals will be retained by the Si and Type R. An optional dual-clutch automatic, which is now available in the Hyundai Veloster N, is also not excluded. We also believe that the Type R will only be available as a hatchback and the Si will be offered as a sedan, although Honda can launch a Civic Si hatchback.

The Civic will have a digital gauge cluster for the first time, which we believe will be configurable. We also see two cupholders, three climate control knobs, and a bigger, higher-mounted 9.0-inch touchscreen. The biggest Civic screen is 7.0 inches today. The Civic will now now get the faster infotainment system in the Accord and Odyssey, which has improved graphics and wireless features for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There will be more airbags than there are in the current car and Honda says it will launch some new airbag designs as well as several new active and passive protection devices, including an updated Honda Sensing safety suite.

We can hear more about the powertrains of the 2022 Honda Civic and other information closer to the late spring 2021 on-sale date.