Updated: Apr 1
There are very few things from 38 years ago that we'd want to live with today. Nostalgia will suggest otherwise, but really, truthfully, trading 2022 for 1984 is a genuinely bad idea---especially when everyone and everything else around you is in the here and now.
My "yeah, but..." to that is the 1984 Honda Civic. The '84 Civic line was a game-changer. Sedan, 2-door and tall station wagon, all of which looked like nothing that had come before and offering a blend of simplicity and refinement that seemingly required no compromise of either. Automotive journalists fell head over heels in love. No less than Jean Lindamood (now Jean Jennings) raved about the new Civic in the March, 1984 issue of Car and Driver. And the counterpoints from Larry Griffin, Rich Ceppos and Patrick Bedard were simply affirmations than Jean had it right.
I was a 27-year-old C/D subscriber. My March issue hit my mailbox in mid-February. On March 12, I took delivery of a blue Civic sedan, which gave me 14 years and 144,000 miles of trouble-free service before I gave it to a friend who needed a car and got still more years and more miles from it.
Despite 24 years of driving 100+ cars a year, it remains my favorite---in concept. But would I really want to return to 0-60 in 11.6 seconds and the only creature comforts being air-conditioning and an aftermarket Alpine AM/FM/Cassette deck?
Good news! The 2022 Honda Civic means I don't have to. The Civic pulls off a trick that's much harder now than it was then---to be contemporary, refreshing, surprising and to go back nearly four decades to the formula that made Honda's reputation in North America.
There are two models so far---Sport and Touring. A third, the Si, should start arriving in showrooms before the end of the year. And a fourth variant, the high-performance Type R, will debut in 2022.
What's under the hood of the 2022 Civic depends on which of those models you choose. Sport gets a two-liter, four-cylinder engine making 158 horsepower, with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). It's not fast. Zero to 60 is about eight seconds. The EPA fuel economy estimate is 30 city/37 highway.
The Touring (pictured) gets a 1.5-liter turbocharged four. Horsepower jumps to 180, the 0-60 time falls only slightly to about seven and a half seconds, but the EPA fuel economy average actually increases---to 31 city/37 highway.
The Si, when it arrives, will have the same 1.5-liter turbo, but it'll be boosted to produce more than 200 horsepower. Performance and fuel economy figures aren't available just yet.
Apart from cloth seats in the Sport and leather in the Touring, there's not a lot of difference between the models once you get inside. Honda did a very nice job of not making the Sport feel like a step down.
Both models get beautifully detailed climate control knobs and an elegant metal screen that runs the length of the dash, concealing the vents. They're controlled by toggle switches. I love this design.
Apart from upholstery, the only obvious difference is the infotainment screen. It's a more fully-featured nine-inch touchscreen in the Touring, compared to the Sport's seven-inch display. But---the Sport has two knobs---one for volume and one for tuning. The Touring just gives you the volume knob and makes you do the tuning through on-screen or steering wheel buttons. The base price of the 2022 Honda Civic Sport is $23,100. The window sticker is at the end of the review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights are a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, an eight-speaker audio system, 18-inch alloy wheels and the Honda Sensing active safety suite.
The 2022 Honda Civic Touring begins at $28,300. The window sticker is at the end of the review, as well. Standard equipment includes everything the Sport has, plus the more powerful engine, the leather interior, the larger touchscreen, an upgraded 12-speaker Bose premium audio system with SiriusXM Satellite Radio, a dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats, and a moonroof.
The 2022 Honda Civic Sport is complete--no extra-cost options. So, with $995 destination and handling, the as-tested price is $24,095.
The 2022 Honda Civic Touring has just one extra-cost option---the Morning Mist Metallic paint ($395). So, with $995 destination and handling, the as-tested price is $29,690.
Is there $5,600 worth of difference between the Sport and the Touring? That's an interesting question. While the Sport is a bit slower, I can't honestly say I enjoyed driving it less. Ultimately, I think the Sport is the '84 Civic reborn---simple, yet refined. The Touring is that template with the features list of a modern-day Accord baked in.
At under $30,000 for the Touring and just barely more than $25,000 for the Sport, they're absolute bargains. And they may be just good enough to be fondly remembered in 2060.