Do-it-yourself-shifting in the 2022 Honda Civic!
It should come as no surprise that we are witnessing the demise of the manual transmission in today’s vehicles. With automatic transmissions becoming more fuel efficient and shifting faster (and dare I say better?) then us mortal humans, the days of a stick shift and clutch pedal are all but numbered. But until then, we will welcome any car that still offers a manual transmission – and guess what? The all-new 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback does – and that is the car that just so happens to be the ride of the week.
Today’s Civic, now in its 11th generation, is available as either a coupe, sedan or hatchback, but only the hatchback (and the Si model) is available with the a six-speed manual gearbox. The others make do with a CVT automatic. This new Civic exhibits a more grown-up appearance when compared to the previous one, even taking on some styling cues found in the larger Accord. In terms of size, the new Civic is slightly larger than the one it replaces, being just over an inch longer, although it’s height and width is the same as the 2021 Civic.
Inside, the new Civic is vastly different not just from the previous Civic, but other cars in its class. The interior is streamlined, with clean lines and a dashboard that features a honeycomb patterned mesh design that cleverly hides the air vents and spans the length of the dash. A wide center console which seems less busy than the previous Civic, has a large deep storage bin that also has a phone charging pad. A 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display is standard, but a larger 9.0-inch unit is optional. Also, optional is a 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster.
While both the exterior and the interior of the new Civic has changed, one thing that hasn’t changed is the drivetrain. Driving the front wheels is one of two engines. The base engine is a 2.0 liter four-cylinder that makes 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque. Optional is a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine that churns out 180 hp and 177 lb.-ft of torque. In Si trim, that gets bumped to 200 hp.
The sedan is available in five trim levels (LX, Sport, EX, Touring and Si), with the hatchback being available in four trim levels. The LX gets the base engine along with 16-inch wheels, push button start, automatic climate control, a 7-inch infotainment screen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone capabilities. The Sport gets larger 18-inch wheels, remote ignition and a sport drive mode. The EX-L gets the upgraded engine (but with 17-inch alloy wheels), sunroof, dual climate control, heated seats and leather interior. Finally, the Sport Touring gets the larger 18-inch wheels, foglights, power seats, 9-inch infotainment screen, a Bose audio system and a slew of safety features.
Along with the do-it-yourself gearbox, the tester arrived in Sport Touring trim.
Earlier this year I reviewed a Civic sedan and found it to be a great little car with plenty of get-up-and go from the turbocharged engine. The hatchback, along with the manual transmission simply builds on that. The 1.5-liter turbocharged engine pairs nicely with a stick thanks to the engine hitting its peak torque at a low 1,700 RPMS. This allows you to nail the throttle without hardly any turbo lag and run through the gears. And rowing the stick is a hoot with the smooth shifting shifter and lightly sprung clutch pedal. So, are there any performance benefits from the stick over the CVT? No – as both can zip to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, but the one in the manual Civic will have more fun doing it.
And, in case you’re wondering which is more fuel efficient, both the automatic and manual transmission cars are rated the same on the highway by the EPA – 37 mpg. But the automatic gets a slight benefit in town as it gets a rating of 31 mpg whereas the manual brings in 28 mpg.
In the automotive world, EVs and autonomous cars are the talk of the future. So, as I spend time with this Civic hatchback with a manual transmission, I feel as if it’s a throwback to how things once were. It is still a modern car, but it’s a car where the driver is more in tune with its engine and the road, things in which most cars today are trying get further away from. With technology going in the direction it is, I totally understand the appeal of a car that drives itself and uses no gasoline. But at the same time, it makes me sad to think that cars that we had to manually change gears in, cars that we could feel the curves of the road through the steering wheel, cars that we actually drove – may be soon going away. But not for another year, at least, because for now we have the Civic Hatchback.
– Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2022 Honda Civic 1.5T Hatch Sport Touring
Base Price: $29,400.00
Price as Tested: $30,810.00
Layout: front-engine / front-wheel drive
Engine: 1.5 liter DOHC turbocharged 4-cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Horsepower: 180 hp
Torque: 177 ft-lbs
EPA Fuel Economy: 28 city / 37 highway mpg
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