The Honda Civic wins our 2022 Best Budget Car to Buy award, but the redesigned compact sedan and hatchback don’t look or feel like a budget car. The previous generation’s youthful exuberance gives way to a more conservative, confident ending for the 11th generation, while the interior trades its rags and perforations for chain-linked belts across the dashboard, along with sharp but subtle metallic tones and an available 9.0-inch touchscreen.
That design is just one of the many reasons the 2022 Honda Civic is winning sales with a TCC rating of 6.8/10 (read more about how we rate cars) but that and its handling is why it beat out the redesigned Hyundai Elantra which also scored a 6.8 (the Elantra N is another matter). The base 158-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-4 with CVT gives the commuter a total of 36 mpg, while the 180-horsepower 1.5-liter turbo-4 has a higher punch in the rev range. That’s just one reason we prefer the hatchback to the sedan: owners can opt for a complimentary 6-speed manual transmission that puts power back into the driver’s hands with a forgiving clutch and short range. The car’s appeal comes more from the corners than under the hood, with the balanced and responsive handling of the independent suspension complemented by AC steering.
The short hatchback is prized for its versatile cargo bay, which holds 24.5 cubic feet (14.8 cubic feet in the sedan); a 60/40-split rear seat opens up even more space. Standard features at this price are impressive: automatic emergency braking, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams and a 7.0-inch touchscreen compatible with smartphones. Even the most expensive Civic, the hatchback in the Sport Tour (up to the R model), can be had for just over $30,000 and comes with everything from leather seats to a Bose stereo.
The Civic wins the economy class, but it’s a winner regardless of segment.