The Honda Civic wins our Best Economy Car To Buy 2022 award, but the redesigned compact sedan and hatchback hardly look or feel like a budget car. The youthful exuberance of the previous generation gives way to more conservative and confident ends on the 11th-generation model, while the interior trades its tats and piercings for a chainmail belt across the dash and sharp but subtle swatches of metal accents and an available 9.0-inch touchscreen.
The design is just one of many reasons the 2022 Honda Civic earned a TCC Rating of 6.8 out of 10 (Read more about how we rate cars.), but that and its handling is why it beats the redesigned Hyundai Elantra, which also scored a 6.8 (the Elantra N is another story). The base 158-hp 2.0-liter inline-4 with a CVT makes for an efficient commuter car at up to 36 mpg combined, while the 180-hp 1.5-liter turbo-4 packs more punch higher in the rev range. That's just one reason we prefer the hatchback to the sedan: owners can choose a no-cost 6-speed manual that puts the power back in the driver's hands with a forgiving clutch and short throws. The charms come more from the corners than under the hood, with balanced and responsive handling from the independent suspension complemented by communicative steering.
The stubbier hatchback gets the nod due to its more versatile cargo hold that holds 24.5 cubic feet (14.8 cubes in the sedan); 60/40-split rear seats open up even more space. The standard features at this price really impress: automatic emergency braking, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone compatibility. Even the most expensive Civic, the hatchback in Sport Touring (until the Type R), barely eclipses $30,000, and comes with everything from leather seats to Bose sound.
The Civic wins the Economy class, but it's a winner regardless of segment.
Read all about the winners of The Car Connection's Best Car To Buy 2022 awards—and find out which vehicles took home our annual Driver’s Choice awards as well as top honors from our sister sites, Motor Authority and Green Car Reports.