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Honda 2.0 vs 1.5 Turbo

1. Engine Specifications

The Honda 2.0 engine is an all-aluminum Inline 4 that is naturally aspirated. It produces 158hp at 6500 RPM and a torque of 138 lb-ft at 4200 RPM. The engine incorporates many efficiency features, such as special surface treatments on the cylinder sleeves, offset cylinder placement that reduces engine friction and a low-tension piston ring design. This engine was designed for efficiency and power to moving a vehicle the size of the Civic, it may not be a sports car and the power is far from exciting, but there is no confusion when it comes to the confidence and smoothness of its acceleration. With fuel efficiency and comfort in mind; this engine is great for those with long commutes or people who like to save money at the gas pump.

1.1. Honda 2.0 Engine

The Honda Civic has two different engines, a 2.0 4-cylinder engine and a 1.5 turbo 4-cylinder engine. Both have a significantly different approach to producing power. The 2.0 is only available in the base model Civic but has no problems in bringing confidence to the table when it comes to fuel efficiency and power. The 1.5 turbo is another story; it was designed to be a top of the line engine that produces superior power and retains efficiency. This is a step forward from the Civic SI which had a great power to weight ratio but the sacrifice was the large displacement compared to regular civics and the inefficient fuel consumption. Honda aimed to achieve the same power to weight ratio of the 8th gen Civic Si, but also bring improved efficiency, and with the 2017 Si having a detuned version of the 1.5 Turbo engine we can infer that goal was achieved. [1]

1.1. Honda 2.0 Engine

The power outputs on both engines are quite different, with the K20C2 targeting fuel economy and lower emissions, while the K20C1 is designed for performance. But the choice for different SOHC and DOHC head configurations with a separate or integrated exhaust manifold setup sure gives an interesting twist. Both engine configurations will have high mechanical efficiency as a priority. Honda has stated that it chose the K20C engine as a compromise between practicality and performance.

The higher output Honda 2.0, designated as K20C1, is an engine shared with the current generation Civic Type-R, albeit with a turbocharger and tuned to a lower output. Rated at around 250 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, this engine features a Dual Overhead Camshaft (DOHC) VTC cylinder head with a separate exhaust manifold and a timing chain. The compression ratio is rated at 9.8:1. Both engines share the same engine block. However, the K20C1 features forged rods and pistons and sodium-filled exhaust valves. Honda was very vague regarding the engine internals and ECU capabilities, so this is all we know for now.

The 2.0 liter naturally aspirated engine is designated as K20C2 and K20C1. The K20C2 is the lower output version (offered in the LX and Sport trims), making around 150 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque. This particular engine is quite similar to the old K24 found in the previous generation Accord and CR-V, which had the i-VTEC system that could run on a partial Atkinson cycle and conventional cycle by selecting different cam profiles. The K20C2 features a Single Overhead Cam (SOHC) cylinder head with an integrated exhaust manifold and a timing chain.

1.2. Honda 1.5 Turbo Engine

The 1.5-liter direct-injected turbo DOHC 4-cylinder is a new addition to the Earth Dreams Technology powertrain series, aiming for a balance between fuel efficiency and dynamic performance. The application of a turbocharger with a small-diameter, low inertia turbine and impeller increases low and high RPM performance, while the use of an electronic waste gate for the turbocharger enhances the Sensing's fuel efficiency. The engine, with reduced weight and friction, comes with either a 6-speed manual transmission (6MT) - which has a fuel economy of 18.2 km/L - or a CVT with paddle shifters, and has a fuel economy of 18.6 km/L. This engine and 6MT combination, by having control of the torque and power application of the engine, allows for dynamic performance unique to a turbo vehicle, something which is not possible with the CVT. In comparison with the Civic Si's 1.5-liter turbo engine, output on this is higher and also provides a more powerful feel. Although this engine has been developed for use in the Civic Type R, the decision for use in the CTR was made after this engine was set as a global engine for use in a variety of different models which will also include SUVs and has been very well received globally for its performance, the timing of its fuel economy, and the smooth feel of its dynamic performance. This engine will also be made at a Honda plant in the USA and be exported for use in global vehicles.

2. Performance Comparison

Much of a debate is made over the real-world advantages of increased fuel economy figures, seemingly to translate to what the skeptics describe as a sacrifice of 'joy' in pressing the right pedal. It is no secret that the Turbo 1.5 does indeed save you money on fuel, with a 35% higher average miles per gallon rate than the 2.0. However, this doesn't entirely exempt the turbocharged model as a sensible purchase. For an additional 15 cents per gallon on 95 octane fuel and a higher insurance premium due to the added cost of replacing/repairing turbo engines, choosing the 2.0 can still be a more cost-effective option in the long term. Be it that price is not an issue, the K20 engine and its following of tuning enthusiasts Earnhardt reviving memories of the booming import scene of the late 90s-late 00s is priceless. [2]

With highly comparable price ranges for the two Civics in question, the mid-tier 2.0 for the previous model and the turbo 1.5, the driving experience remains a leading factor in determining which to pick. Again, the datasheet does not do the engine bolt-ons justice. The chassis and, in turn, the acceleration of the 2.0 are considered by many to be the most fun Honda to drive this decade. Despite the recent trend of developing torquey turbocharged engines, the 2.0 is revered for having a particularly sporty power band, cranking out a respectable 158 hp and 138 lb-ft of torque. With the increasingly popular sports car shift towards turbocharging, it is likely that in the near future, naturally aspirated engines may become a thing of the past. For some, keeping this option alive in the form of the high-revving K20 is an inviting prospect.

2.1. Acceleration and Top Speed

The bigger engine might have you thinking the 2.0T is quicker and faster compared to the 1.5T, but the difference in acceleration is not as big as you would expect, and top speed numbers are limited by the ECU and not much can be achieved through a tune. Test driving the Honda 1.5 Turbo, the car provides great acceleration in the low to mid-range RPM but starts to die off towards the red line. According to MotorTrend, the 0-60 time is 7.3 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 15.7 seconds at 89.5 mph. The 1.5 Turbo provides a respectable 192 ft/lbs of torque at 1600-5000 rpm with a maximum boost of around 20.3 psi tapering down to 13.5 psi at 5500 rpm. The 2.0T feels like a completely different car with its acceleration and torque feel. The 0-60 mph is at 6.2 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 14.6 seconds at 95.9 mph. This changes the car from average to a more sports-oriented feel. Although the published torque numbers are not much different from the 1.5T, the 2.0T provides 22.7 psi of boost, bypassing the 1.5T's boost numbers at 5500 rpm. This provides a constant torque increase from 2500-4500 rpm at 258 ft/lbs and maxing out 20 ft/lbs more at 278 ft/lbs at 2500-3000 rpm.

2.2. Fuel Efficiency

Both the Honda Civic 1.5L Turbo and Honda Civic 2.0L deliver decent gas mileage, though the 1.5L is noticeably better. The two engines in LX and EX-T trim levels (2.0 and 1.5, respectively) are capable of reaching over 40 miles per gallon on the highway compared to the highway maximum of 36 miles per gallon on the 2.0L in all other trim levels. Both engines deliver around 32 miles per gallon in mixed driving conditions. There is potential for significant savings in yearly fuel costs if you are looking at the 1.5L. On an intriguing note, these numbers begin to even out more if we compare real-world fuel economy like we see on fueleconomy.gov for average drivers. I'm speculating that because the 1.5L has quite a bit more power compared to the 1.8L while the 2.0L has barely more than 1.8L, drivers of the 2.0L will more commonly need to stomp on the gas pedal to reach higher RPMs for merging/lane changes, going up hills, etc. The 2.0L is quite a bit heavier and has a less aggressive power to weight ratio than the 1.5L. As well, the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) paired with the 2.0L in higher trims is newer, more efficient and has a wider gear ratio than the CVTs on the 1.8 and 1.5 engines, with 34 and 30 MPG, respectively. CVT transmissions inherently have better efficiency than geared automatics, manuals, or dual-clutch transmissions.

2.3. Handling and Driving Experience

Honda 2.0 has an all-wheel drive, 4-wheel steering drivetrain. It has good performance with a maximum speed. This is in comparison with the Honda Civic 1.5, which can reach speeds of 174-177 km/h depending on the type of car. In terms of handling and driving experience, the 2.0 has good handling and well-controlled torque steer, even on dry or wet roads. In comparison, the 1.5 has poor handling because it is only front-wheel drive, making it difficult to control due to torque steer. This is especially noticeable on wet roads, where there is tire slippage. Additionally, the 1.5 has a rattling gear lever. The steptronic gear changing via paddle shifters is good and fun, so it is best to avoid using the gear lever. The networking steering on the 2.0 is very responsive because it is an electrical power steering. This is beneficial for controlling the car at high or low speeds. In comparison, the type 1.5 still uses old hydraulic steering, resulting in less control, even with a larger rim size. However, there is no comparison between the 2.0 and 1.5 in terms of fuel pump consumption because both cars in this test still use new fuel pumps. The 2.0 requires more than 51 liters to fill up the tank, while the 1.5 only requires 48 liters because the tank capacity for the 2.0 is 53 liters, while the 1.5 is 47 liters. The 2.0 burns fuel faster than the 1.5 and is also more expensive. From the comparison of performance between cars in the same Accord generation, the better options to buy a Honda Accord are the Honda Accord Executive and the Honda Accord VTI-L because their performance is equal to the Honda Accord VTi using the Type 2.0. However, if you want better comfort while driving, the Type 1.5 is still suitable because it offers better comfort due to the double wishbone suspension in the rear and less body roll. However, this decision depends on the budget for fuel, as fuel prices are now more expensive than before. Therefore, it is important to consider using a fuel-efficient car, even for performance cars.

3. Cost and Value

B. Maintenance and Repair Costs Typically, a more complex and powerful engine will have higher maintenance and repair costs over time. With today's automotive technology, this is not always the case, but the 2.0 L turbo is a newer and more sophisticated engine compared to the 1.5 L. The difference in engine output is dramatic, with the 1.5 L producing 192 hp and the 2.0 L producing 252 hp. In order to accomplish this, the 2.0 L turbo is more highly strung. It runs more boost and compression and will generally be working harder to achieve its higher power output compared to the 1.5 L. It is understood that engine wear and tear is directly related to how hard an engine is working to produce power. This would suggest that the 2.0 L turbo engine could have significantly less longevity than the 1.5 L. Though this is difficult to predict without specific data on the engines, only time will tell. If indeed the 2.0 L engine does have a shorter engine lifespan, its owners could see repair costs coming much sooner in their vehicle's life, possibly leading to buyer's remorse for choosing an engine that was not as reliable as the cheaper alternative. [2]

A. Price Difference Perhaps the most salient factor to the majority of consumers is the difference in price between the two engine choices. As mentioned, Honda's 2.0-liter engine is only available in the Accord - model year 2013 and to date is only available in North America. The MSRP is $2000 more for the 2.0 L compared with a similarly equipped 1.5 L Honda Accord. With low-interest financing, this could amount to an extra $25 per month for a 5-year loan. In terms of comparing prices at the gas pump, Honda turbo engines are able to deliver power comparable to a naturally aspirated engine while also being able to achieve better fuel efficiency. It's been suggested that the 2.0 turbo in the Honda Accord (coming in model year 2018) will have similar fuel economy to the 1.5 L. Therefore, the $2000 premium paid at the dealership may be offset by considerable savings in fuel costs for high mileage drivers. All things considered, the 2.0 L turbo is a relatively small additional cost for an engine that delivers much more power than the 1.5 turbo. This aspect of it further solidifies the already obvious advantage in purchase price for the 2.0 turbo, especially for someone who would prefer power and performance in their vehicle.

3.1. Price Difference

In the United States, the price difference between a Honda with a 2.0T and a 1.5T engine varies. In most cases, the 2.0T is only available in the higher tiered trims of a certain model, so when comparing prices between a 2.0T and a 1.5T, one must compare the prices of two separate cars and take into account the difference in features between the two trims. A certain example would be the 2018 Honda Accord. The 2018 Accord 1.5T starts at $23,570 and the 2018 Accord 2.0T starts at $31,200. This price difference of $7,630 is significantly larger than just the price difference between the two engines, and shows that in this case the 2.0T has a much higher price of entry to go along with its stronger engine when compared to a 1.5T of a lower trim. By taking this into account, one must decide if the speed of a 2.0T is really worth the extra money, or if a 1.5T provides enough power and efficiency to be worth the price. If one is comparing two models of the same car like the Accord, the price difference between a 2.0T and a 1.5T can be more accurately gauged by looking at the price of the base 2.0T model and the price of the 1.5T model plus an optional upgrade to the 1.5T's higher trim. An example of this case would be the 2018 Honda Civic. The 2018 Civic 1.5T starts at $19,740 while the 2018 Civic 2.0T starts at $22,700 with a $3,000 difference between the two base model manual transmissions. However, the 2.0T is only available in the Civic Si which is based off of the higher tiered trims of a regular Civic, so when looking at a base 2.0T model Civic which would be the Si, one must compare the $24,100 MSRP of a Civic Si to the $24,100 MSRP of a 1.5T Civic touring plus the optional $400 upgrade to a Civic touring with a 1.5T with a performance package. This comparison shows a difference of the same $3,000 between a base 2.0T model and a 1.5T. Additional price of packages must be taken into account when comparing equivalent features of a 2.0T to a 1.5T. Features like Honda sensing are available on both 2.0T and 1.5T models of the same car, but when looking at a more basic 2.0T model like a 2016-2017 Honda Civic with no available options, this is a feature that is not included because it is offered as an option only in higher trims of the equivalent 1.5T model. This means one must take into account the extra price for higher tiered trims and option packages when trying to compare the price of a 2.0T with the same or similar features to a 1.5T. In terms of just the price of adding the 2.0T engine to a car that already has a 1.5T version, the additional cost can vary from $1,000 to above $3,000 as seen in the previous example of the 2018 Honda Civic and the price difference of $2,000 between a Civic touring with a 1.5T and a touring with a 2.0T.

3.2. Maintenance and Repair Costs

Honda 2.0 turbo engine vs 1.5 Turbo, the maintenance and repair cost would be higher for the 2.0 turbo engine since it has more power and different operation behavior compared to the 1.5 Turbo. It is quite predictable since a car with more power and a different operation behavior has a more complex build and different system. This also happens in the Honda 2.0 turbo engine compared to the Honda 1.5 Turbo. Parts and spares cost are also higher since a more powerful car has a different build and different parts. For example, Honda 1.5 Turbo uses regular fuel, while the Honda 2.0 turbo engine is recommended to use a higher-octane fuel for better performance. Higher-priced fuel means higher cost for fuel expenses. This would be an extra cost for 2.0 turbo users. Last but not least, a more powerful car tax is also higher than regular, it is also an extra cost to maintain the car. But for the maintenance cost, both of the engines should be equal because the maintenance cost for the engine is in balance with the part price. If the part is expensive, the maintenance cost would be cheaper and vice versa. This happens because Honda has a regular service guideline and price, which means it is the same for all Honda cars. So the only different thing is just the part price and spares. On long-term usage, a more powerful car would have a more durable engine compared to the less powerful one. This also happens in the Honda 2.0 turbo engine, it has a more durable engine and cheaper maintenance if it's compared to the same class car from different manufacturers. But it still has a higher cost compared to 1.5 Turbo maintenance costs.

3.3. Resale Value

According to Kelley Blue Book, both types of the Civic have a resale value that is higher than the competition, with much of the reasoning being the rave reviews on the performance and features of Honda's vehicles. They stated that the Si has strong resale value based on a long-standing reputation for reliability and durability, high build quality, good fuel economy, and strong demand in the resale market. The Type R retains its value due in part to its exclusive nature, high performance, and demand among enthusiasts. It is also suggested that in recent economic fluctuations, the demand for used cars has increased, which drives prices upward. With a clearer reputation now in sight and increased customer confidence in the brand due to the recovery from Honda's mid-2010 lapses in safety and recall issues, it is safe to bet that this trend carries through the remainder of the decade. Higher demand drives higher prices for used cars, and the consumer benefits. Higher resale values mean less money lost on a car in the long run, which is a major deciding factor for those that tend to keep their cars for a lengthy duration."

"Resale value refers to the value of your car at a particular time in the future relative to the amount you paid for it. Based on annual Automotive Lease Guide, the difference in resale value between the Si and the Type R is 1%, suggesting that the turbo and upgraded features do not add to lost value like the extra purchase price.


[1] S. Kim, J. Sim, Y. Cho, B. S. Sung et al., "Numerical study on the performance and NOx emission characteristics of an 800cc MPI turbocharged SI engine," Energies, 2021. mdpi.com

[2] F. Leach, G. Kalghatgi, R. Stone, and P. Miles, "The scope for improving the efficiency and environmental impact of internal combustion engines," Transportation Engineering, 2020. sciencedirect.com

Read More: Honda 2.0 vs 1.5 Turbo