2022 Honda Civic Touring vs. Toyota Corolla Apex: Which Compact Sedan Wins?

Among the Toyota Corolla’s main rivals, the Honda Civic is one of the fiercest. And for 2022, the Honda Civic gets a significant update. However, the Corolla hasn’t exactly been stagnant. 2021 saw the release of the sporty limited-edition Toyota Corolla Apex. But which compact sedan reigns supreme? YouTube team The Straight Pipes decided to find out.

The 2022 Honda Civic Sedan Touring keeps an old engine but gets new looks, more tech, and better handling

A red 2022 Honda Civic Sedan parked on a mountain road
2022 Honda Civic Sedan | Honda

The 2022 Honda Civic Sedan brings something—well, two things—from the 2021 model. That would be its engines. The lowest two 2022 Civic Sedan trims get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that, as before, makes 158 hp and 138 lb-ft of torque. And the EX and Touring trims, like their 2021 counterparts, have a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Plus, the 2022 Honda Civic Sedan only has one transmission: a CVT.

However, the 2022 version of the 1.5-liter engine is slightly more powerful. The 2022 Honda Civic Sedan Touring The Straight Pipes drove makes 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque, 6 more hp and 15 more lb-ft than before. So, while the 2022 Civic Sedan is slightly heavier, on paper, the automaker claims it’s just as fast. Car and Driver’s initial testing contradicts those claims, but the publication notes it tested a low-mileage example.

The black front seats and dashboard of a 2022 Honda Civic Sedan Touring
2022 Honda Civic Sedan Touring front interior | Honda

Powertrain aside, the 2022 Honda Civic Sedan is significantly reworked compared to the 2021 model. It’s slightly longer and stiffer, MotorTrend notes, with a wider rear track. Its suspension and electric power steering have also been retuned. With grippier tires, reckons “the Civic Touring would pull an impressive imitation of a Volkswagen GTI.”

While the 2022 Honda Civic Sedan’s exterior resembles the Accord, the compact’s interior apes the overseas “chic” e, MT says. And it comes packed with tech. All 2022 Civics come with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a digital driver’s display, LED headlights, and the Honda Sensing driver-assistance suite with lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control. Plus, a 7” touchscreen with a physical volume knob.

The range-topping Touring, though, has even more tech. It gets a 9” touchscreen, Bose audio system, fully digital gauge cluster, navigation, wireless charging, and parking sensors. Also, leather-trimmed seats and wireless versions of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The 2021 Toyota Corolla SE Apex puts more ‘sport’ in the sensible sedan

A silver 2021 Toyota Corolla Apex Edition
2021 Toyota Corolla Apex Edition | Toyota

Among the 2021 Toyota Corolla’s multiple trim levels, the Apex Edition is limited to the SE and XSE. And based on the features on the Corolla Apex in The Straight Pipes’ video, it appears the hosts tested an SE model.

Compared to the 2022 Honda Civic Sedan Touring, the 2021 Toyota Corolla Apex is down on power. Under its hood is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 169 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. However, unlike the Civic Sedan, the Corolla Apex offers something besides a CVT. Of the 6000 Corolla Apex Editions Toyota is selling in the US, 120 have a six-speed manual. And while the XSE trim has more standard features, on the Apex Edition models, the manual is SE-only. Plus, it features hill-start assist and downshift rev-matching.

A side view of the black front seats and dashboard of a 2021 Toyota Corolla XSE Apex Edition
2021 Toyota Corolla XSE Apex Edition front interior side | Toyota

In terms of performance features, every 2021 Toyota Corolla Apex has stiffer springs, a lower ride height, stiffer anti-roll bars, and re-tuned dampers. It also has a catback exhaust, retuned electric power steering, and grippy summer tires are a no-cost option. And the Corolla Apex also gets lighter-weight aluminum wheels, sport seats, and a body kit with a front spoiler, rear diffuser, and optional rear spoiler.

Trim-wise, the 2021 Toyota Corolla SE Apex sits roughly in the middle of the Corolla lineup. That means its standard features include keyless entry, an 8” center touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 ADAS suite. Said ADAS suite includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking. However, the Corolla SE Apex doesn’t offer blind-spot monitoring, not even as an option.

Which compact car did The Straight Pipes prefer?

When The Straight Pipes tested the 2020 versions of the Civic and Corolla, the Honda won. And in the case of the 2022 Honda Civic Sedan Touring vs. 2021 Toyota Corolla Apex, the Civic won again.

Acceleration-wise, both compact sedans are fairly even. But the 2022 Civic delivers solid handling without the ride quality drawbacks of the Corolla Apex’s suspension. Yes, the Corolla Apex corners well, and with minimal body roll. But on normal roads and highways, it’s “way too stiff” and “bouncy,” The Straight Pipes found. And while it has that manual transmission, the 2022 Civic Hatchback, Si, and Type R will offer one, too.

As far as interior quality and tech are concerned, the seats in the Toyota Corolla SE Apex have better bolstering. And its infotainment system has a few more hard buttons. Plus, it’s about $3000 cheaper. However, the touchscreen in the 2022 Honda Civic Sedan Touring is larger and has a better resolution. Plus, the Civic’s lane-centering assist is slightly better than the Corolla’s version. The Honda also has more interior space overall.

In short, although the 2021 Toyota Corolla Apex has some sporty sparkle, the 2022 Honda Civic Touring is the better compact sedan.

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