2022 Honda Civic Vs. 2021 Honda Civic—Which Should I Buy?

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Eyeing the Honda Civic? Solid choice—it’s a repeat comparison test winner and consistently one of our top-ranked compact cars. But if you’re headed to a Honda dealership soon, you’ll likely see redesigned 2022 Civics parked next to the 2021 car—and those older models might be discounted to help make way for newer inventory. Should you take the bait and choose a slightly outdated 2021 Civic? Or is it better to invest in the hot-off-the-press 2022 Civic? Consider these factors in your decision.

Exterior Styling

Edgy and eye-catching? Or mature and subdued? That depends on which Civic you choose. The 2022 model takes a different design approach than its predecessor, not as detailed but also not as, um, busy. If we had to be critical, we could say the 2021 model excessively resembles an evil robot, and the 2022 car’s proboscis nose leads its plain design. That’s forced criticism, though—both cars look good in their own way, and we’ll leave it to you to decide which you prefer.

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Interior Design

Here, we think the 2022 Civic has an advantage. Its cabin is the most upscale and attractive in a Civic yet. The horizontal theme lends a sensation of width and openness. Ergonomics seem improved; the cupholders move forward for easier reach, and the infotainment is positioned higher for a better line of sight.

Although material quality is similar—not great yet still appropriate for this price point—those materials are used in a more thoughtful way. See details like the honeycomb air vent, knurled climate knobs, or textured trim panels. The 2021 Civic’s cabin was fine, but the 2022 model’s is a step up in style and functionality.

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Passenger and Cargo Space

Passenger space is identical between the 2021 and 2022 Civic sedan. Headroom measures 39.3 inches up front and 37.1 inches in the rear. Front passengers have 42.3 inches of legroom; those in back get 37.4 inches. The hatchback’s specs are similar, but the 2022 model gains about 1.4 additional inches of second-row legroom over last year.

Trunk capacity in the 2022 Civic sedan is slightly less than before; it offers 14.8 cubic fee, and the 2021 car had 15.1. The hatchback offers more cargo capacity, but likewise there’s less space behind the second row compared to 2021: 24.5 cubic feet against 25.7. However, the 2022 hatchback’s aperture is a little wider and lower to ease loading. For all intents and purposes, it seems like a wash in these measures.

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Technology Features

In the 2021 Civic, all trims above the base LX were equipped with a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen. The 2022 Civic has that size screen even on LX trim, equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The range-topping 2022 Touring trim gets a 9.0-inch touchscreen with built-in navigation. That trim caters to cord cutters with wireless smartphone connectivity and a wireless charging pad.

Unlike lower trims, the 2022 Civic Touring has second-row USB ports. It also gets a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system, the first time a Civic has featured a name-brand setup. One notable upgrade in the 2022 Civic is its digital gauge display measuring 7.0 inches on all trims but the Touring, which gets a 10.2-inch unit. No surprise: newer car, better tech. The 2022 Civic takes the advantage here, though if you want bigger screens on a lower-trim compact sedan, consider the new Hyundai Elantra.

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Safety

As before, the 2022 Civic is equipped with the Honda Sensing suite of driver assist and active safety features. These include adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, front automatic braking, and automatic high-beams. We’ve found Honda Sensing to work well in earlier models, but the 2022’s camera and sensors are said to be improved for more refined responses.

The 2022 Civic is equipped with additional airbags, such as knee airbags for the front passengers. Furthermore, the front airbags are of a new design that’s intended to reduce head injuries. Although safety ratings are not yet available, we can’t imagine the 2022 Civic will do any worse than the 2021 car, which earned impressive accolades from the IIHS and NHTSA.

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Performance and Fuel Economy

Engines are essentially carryover from 2021 to 2022. The base engine is a 2.0-liter I-4 producing 158 hp and 138 lb-ft through a CVT automatic. Don’t expect a 0-60 time much quicker than the 8.6-second run we recorded in an earlier Civic with this engine. Likewise, fuel economy may only improve slightly over the 29-30/37-38 mpg city/highway posted by the 2021 model.

Civics with the 1.5-liter turbocharged I-4 are a bit more powerful for 2022, producing 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque as opposed to 174 hp and 162 lb-ft previously. Again, the engine is connected to a CVT automatic, but to the delight of enthusiasts, the hatchback’s optional six-speed manual returns on the hatchback model. Despite that increased output, the 2022 Civic sedan we tested was actually slower to 60 mph than a comparable earlier model, needing 7.4 seconds instead of 6.8. Fuel economy may improve a bit over the 2020 Civic’s 29-32/35-42 mpg rating. Although engines are similar between 2021 and 2022, the newer Civic’s additional sound-deadening material better isolates the cabin from the engine.

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Fun to Drive?

Representing MotorTrend for our First Drive of the 2022 Civic was Conner Golden, a guy who knows a thing or two about sporty cars. To say he came away enthused would be an understatement. Of the 10th-generation Civic (pictured above), Golden recognized how it’s “a car we regularly categorized as arguably the sharpest-driving non-performance compact car offered at any price.” Yet the 11th-generation 2022 Civic “somehow makes its progenitor feel like a mushy bag of bolts unscrewed from a 1986 Cadillac.” The point is that it’s a “fabulously tight little car” with “Porsche-like” inputs. It traversed rough roads “with a level of sophistication usually reserved for VWs or base-level compact luxury cars.” So yeah, the 2022 Civic drives very well.

But if you want a truly enthusiast-oriented Civic, the prior model remains the better choice. The 2022 Civic has no parallel to the zippy Civic Si or transcendental Civic Type R—yet. Those are bound for production before long.

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Pricing

Pricing for the 2022 Honda Civic is about the same as the 2021 model, starting at $22,695 in LX trim, or $450 more than last year’s equivalent. At the top of the range is the Touring trim, which goes for the same $29,295 as it did last year. Now, as we said at the outset, you might be able to find a discounted 2021 Civic. Does a potentially lower price make it worth it over the newer model?

Is the New Civic Worth It?

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At the Honda dealer, you may find a 2021 Civic with appealing pricing. Still, we think the new 2022 Civic is worth it. The new model’s updated styling, interior, technology, and driving manners make it the better choice for long-term ownership. If you were comparing the 2021 Civic against basically any other compact car, it’d be a good choice. But here, Honda has outdone itself and solidified the Civic as a small-sized superstar once again.

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