Honda Civic

The Honda Civic isn’t fast (0 to 60 mph in 8 seconds) but gets more than 30 mpg.

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. It’s a sedan, two-door and a tall station wagon, all of which looked like nothing that had come before. It offered a blend of simplicity and refinement that seemingly required no compromise of either.

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-plus cars a year, it remains my favorite – in concept. But would I really want to return to 0 to 60 mph in 11.6 seconds and the only creature comforts being air conditioning and an aftermarket cassette deck?

The 2022 Honda Civic means I don’t have to. The new 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 2-liter, four-cylinder engine making 158 horsepower, with a continuously variable transmission. It’s not fast; 0 to 60 mph is about 8 seconds. The Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy estimate is 30 mpg city and 37 mpg highway.

The Touring gets a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Horsepower jumps to 180, the 0 to 60 mph time falls only slightly to approximately 7 1/2 seconds, but the EPA fuel economy average actually increases – to 31 mpg city and 37 mpg 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.

Minor differences

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 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 9-inch touchscreen in the Touring, compared to the Sport’s 7-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 Sport is $23,100. Among the standard equipment highlights are leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, eight-speaker audio system, 18-inch alloy wheels and the Honda Sensing active safety suite.

The Touring begins at $28,300. Standard equipment includes everything the Sport has, plus the more powerful engine, leather interior, larger touchscreen, upgraded 12-speaker Bose premium audio system with SiriusXM Satellite Radio, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats and moonroof.

The Touring I drove had just one extra-cost option – the Morning Mist Metallic paint ($395). So, with $995 destination and handling, the as-tested price is $29,690.

The Sport had no extra-cost options. So, with $995 destination and handling, the as-tested price is $24,095.

Is there $5,595 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.

Mike Hagerty is vice president of membership for Western Automotive Journalists (waj.org). He has been writing about automobiles since 1997. Read more of his reviews at MikeHagertyCars.com and follow him on Twitter (twitter.com/mikehagertycars) and Facebook (facebook.com/ mikehagertywritesaboutcars).