2022 Honda Civic hatchback pulls double duty

The wraps have been pulled off of the 2022 Honda Civic hatchback, with Honda debuting the five-door compact variant on YouTube Wednesday evening. As a card-carrying member of the “hatchbacks and wagons are best” club, this was the real Civic that I’ve been waiting for. The 2022 Civic sedan has just started to arrive at dealerships and in our time with it, I came away impressed with its interior quality at all trim levels and solid driving dynamics. The hatchback should offer all of that and more.

The 11th-generation Civic ditches the coupe bodystyle, leaving the hatchback to do double duty as both the sportier and more practical version of the compact car. Those dueling priorities are reflected in the hatchback’s two largest changes versus its sedan counterpart: an available 6-speed manual transmission and a larger cargo area.

 

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

The hatchback will have a pair of engine options, same as the sedan. The base 158-hp, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder is found in the LX and Sport trims, while the EX and Sport Touring (replacing the Touring trim on the sedan) get a more powerful 180-hp, 1.5-liter turbo-4. A continuously variable automatic transmission will come standard on all models, but both the Sport and Sport Touring will have the option to ditch the slushbox for a good old-fashioned manual.

Honda says that the previous generation of the Sport hatchback had a 20 percent take rate on the manual transmission, which made the grumbly old man in me smile. Everyone should know how to drive a stick, and historically the Civic has been a good starting place. The manual transmission has been tweaked from the previous generation with shorter shift throws, improved shift rigidity, and a new dual-mass flywheel to reduce drivetrain noise and vibration. The clutch action was pretty good in the last generation Civic, so if that level of feel has been retained those changes should make the transmission even better. And it especially will help with the base engine, which has a pretty thin powerband and can feel sluggish when connected to the CVT.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

The other big change comes at the other end in the cargo area. It offers 24.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, far greater than the 14.8 cubic feet in the sedan. In addition, the cargo opening has been widened by 1.6 inches and it’s easier. 

The liftgate is now made of a lightweight composite, which makes it easier to open and close. The cargo area also includes a pair of privacy screens, one attached to the rear glass and the other can be pulled across to keep prying eyes off of your valuables in the rear of the vehicle. Both screens are removable if you want to maximize the available cargo area.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

Line up the hatchback next to the sedan (as Honda conveniently did at the studio) and the visual changes stick out more. The hatchback is significantly shorter than the sedan, chopping 4.9 inches off of the rear overhang. It does make the rear feel slightly abbreviated compared to the sedan’s longer and leaner look. Viewed on its own without the comparison, the hatchback’s rear will feel more cohesive.

A honeycomb mesh grille replaces the plainer grille found on the sedan and the front of the hood appears to be lower than the sedan(though the breakover point for pedestrian safety actually remains the same). Subtle side skirts finished in black and a pair of chrome faux-exhaust ports in the rear diffuser (on Sport Touring models) make the whole package look a little more aggressive.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

From the inside, the hatchback and sedan feel identical; sitting in each of the seats felt the same as the sedan I tested previously. The backseat still only has room to fit two adults comfortably. Honda did not release final dimensions on legroom and headroom but it felt very similar to sitting in the back of the sedan. The EX-L adds leather upholstery in the hatchback, but the Sport Touring offers the biggest jump in equipment. It will be the only way to get the larger 9.0-inch multimedia screen, wireless charging, wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, and the very good Bose premium audio system.

Honda has not yet definitively stated if the hatchback will be offered in Si or Type R form, though the last Type R was hatchback based and we will more than likely see one of those performance variants based on the five door. 

The Civic hatchback will be built in Greensburg, Indiana and debut sometime “later this year,” and that was as specific as Honda was willing to be on that front. Which is too bad, because I want hatchback—and I want it now.

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