Wireless CarPlay is seeing increasing adoption across car manufacturers, and one of the most recent to adopt the technology is Honda, which debuted it in the 2021 Accord and has now expanded it to the Civic for 2022. I recently had a chance to spend some time in the new Civic, which delivers a familiar infotainment experience with several handy additions.
My test vehicle was a top-end Touring trim, featuring a 9-inch main infotainment screen with SiriusXM and built-in navigation compared to the 7-inch screen lacking those other features found on other trims.
I took a look at the 2018 Accord with wired CarPlay a few years ago, and the overall look of the Honda infotainment system remains remarkably similar with a Home Screen featuring color-coded tiles based on function, such as blue for audio functions, yellow for system functions, green for phone/messaging functions, and red for navigation.
One change over the past few years is the customizable shortcuts have been moved from the top status strip to their own row at the bottom of the display, allowing for six larger tabs that will take you straight to your most frequently used apps from wherever you are in the native Honda system, but not CarPlay.
The system includes smart shortcuts, which use your past listening, music, and navigation behavior to predict what functions you might want to use at any given time. You can provide thumbs up or down feedback on suggestions, and they will improve over time as they gather more data about your usage patterns.
While Honda says it has improved the responsiveness of the infotainment system in the Civic, it still felt a bit sluggish to me, especially when opening apps for the first time after the system booted up. SiriusXM stations sometimes took up to a minute to start playing after starting the car, and the navigation app was routinely quite slow to fully launch the first time I accessed it after starting the car, though it was much better on return visits to the app during the same drive.
A conveniently placed volume knob is nice for quick adjustments, while hard buttons for home, back, and audio forward/back offer some quick-access controls that don’t require using the touchscreen.
Importantly, wireless CarPlay on the 2022 Civic is only available on the highest-end Touring trim, with all other trims limited to wired CarPlay. That’s an unfortunate limitation, as the upgrade to wireless makes CarPlay so much more convenient for short trips where you might not even want to bother taking your phone out of your pocket.
Wireless CarPlay setup was extremely simple as expected, with the usual prompts appearing after connecting my phone to the system via Bluetooth, and from that point on connecting automatically and seamlessly every time I started the car.
CarPlay takes up the entire screen on the Civic, and with the 9-inch screen it’s plenty large. With no split-screen functionality or persistent status bar, you can’t see information from the native Honda system alongside CarPlay, but at least the physical Home button next to the screen makes it easy to hop out of CarPlay and you can use the shortcuts to simplify getting into CarPlay.
Also mitigating the lack of visibility for the native system on the main screen while in CarPlay is the large 10.2-inch digital driver’s display on the Touring trim, which can helpfully display some data such as your audio information and navigation prompts from either the built-in system or CarPlay.
The Bose audio system on the Touring trim offers solid audio quality, with 12 speakers scattered throughout the cabin. Audio prompts from CarPlay have a directional aspect to them, coming from a speaker located behind the screen itself. Other audio also turns itself down a bit while Siri is speaking in order to make sure Siri can be heard.
Wireless Charging and Ports
Wireless phone chargers also seem to be hit-or-miss, with manufacturers coming with a wide variety of designs. It feels like it should be a straightforward concept, but I’m always surprised that some of them fail to work consistently.
Supporting an array of device sizes and keeping them positioned properly while being subjected to various forces in a moving vehicle has apparently proven to be challenging, but I’m pleased to say that Honda has done a solid job with its wireless charger in the new Civic. As with wireless CarPlay, however, the phone charger is also limited to the Touring trim.
The Civic’s charging solution is a simple rubberized pad in a cubby at the base of the center stack. A pair of subtle plastic rails helps to keep devices relatively centered over the charging coils in the cubby, and my iPhone 13 Pro Max in an Apple case had some room to spare. The charger had no troubles initiating or maintaining charging with my phone, and my phone consistently stayed right where I put it.
Honda is still relying on USB-A for wired connectivity in the Civic, providing a total of four ports on the EX and Touring trims: one charge-and-data port and one charge-only port up front adjacent to the wireless charging cubby and two charge-only ports on the rear of the center console for backseat passengers. The lower-end LX and Sport trims have only a single USB-A port, located up front for wired CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
Wireless CarPlay on the 2022 Civic is certainly a welcome addition, making the feature accessible on one of the most popular cars in the United States, particularly among first-time and younger buyers. Unfortunately, it’s limited to the Touring trim, so you’ll have to add more than $7,000 to the base price of the vehicle in order to get wireless CarPlay, though you obviously get a lot of other upgrades along with that.
The same is true for the wireless phone charger. It’s not unusual for wireless CarPlay and wireless phone chargers to be paired up on trim levels given their interrelated utility, so this isn’t a surprise, but still, it would be nice if these features were available on some lower trims, even as a standalone option that didn’t require you to also add all of the upgrades included in higher trims.
Even at the top-end Touring trim required to get these features, the 2022 Civic comes in at under $30,000, so it’s within the range of many mainstream new car buyers. I just wish it was accessible to the crowd looking to stick to the under $25,000 segment.