By on July 17, 2017

2018 Honda Accord Sport - Image: HondaLaunched in mid-June 2017, the 2017 Honda Civic Type R is the first Honda-brand Type R product ever sold in the United States. And after generations of Honda enthusiasts tolerated relatively unimpressive horsepower totals from high-revving four-cylinder engines, Honda didn’t mess around with the latest, turbocharged Civic Type R.

306 horsepower at 6,500 rpm.  295 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm.

Yet before the Civic Type R was even on sale in the United States, we learned that the 10th-generation 2018 Honda Accord would kill the V6 and replace it with, you guessed it, the Civic Type R’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Incidentally, only a few days after that, we learned that the optional V6 in the Accord’s long-time rival, the new-for-2018 Toyota Camry, would generate 301 horsepower.

Win for Honda? Not so much, as Honda last week revealed a 2018 Accord 2.0T with 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque.

Huh? What? Why?

Granted, Honda doesn’t claim the engines are identical. The 2.0T, Honda said in the company’s unveiling last week, shares “much of its design with the race-bred 2017 Civic Type R.”

Much. Not all.

But it’s not just that the 2018 Accord lost 54 of the Civic Type R’s horses somewhere between the barn and the track. The new hi-po Accord is also down on power compared with the outgoing Accord V6. Honda doesn’t even hide it, placing the Accord 3.5-liter V6’s specs right smack in the middle of the 2018 Accord’s press release. In 2017, selecting the upgrade engine resulted in 278 horsepower.

Regardless, Honda has the ability to produce a 306-horsepower Accord, so why did the company hold off? It wasn’t just to protect the Type R’s status at the top of the performance heap, though American Honda’s public relations manager James Jenkins did acknowledge that, “There is a small halo effect in having the Type R in our lineup.”2017 Honda Civic Type R engine - Image: HondaIn reality, however, it’s all down to priorities. “For Type R, it’s pretty much all out performance,” Jenkins told TTAC today. “For Accord, it’s not that easy. We need to modify it slightly for that target buyer.”

Though Honda has not yet released fuel economy figures yet, Jenkins pointed to the obvious nature of the two cars’ significantly different efficiency targets.

“We also have to analyze things like vehicle size, transmission, and so on to make the best balance of that motor,” Jenkins says.

Indeed, while the Civic Type R links the 2.0T solely to a six-speed manual, the Accord 2.0T — while available with a six-speed manual — will typically be sending power to the front wheels via a 10-speed automatic.

Combine different behavior with different fuel economy expectations and the Accord’s 2.0T reveals its power in a different manner. Though down on horsepower compared with the Civic Type R, the torque deficit, at only 22 lb-ft, is slight.

Moreover, the Accord’s 273 lb-ft of torque plateaus 1,000 rpm sooner than the Civic Type R’s 295 lb-ft. Besides, the Accord’s torque figure is now 21-lb-ft stronger than the 2017 Accord V6’s, and it peaks at 1,500 rpm rather than 4,900 rpm.

With curb weight falling by 110-176 pounds in the new generation, the 2018 Accord 2.0T will undoubtedly accelerate with even greater force than the outgoing Accord V6.

As for its ability to measure up to the extreme Civic, Jenkins says, “That car is loaded with performance parts that even if the Accord did push out 306 horsepower, the Type R would out perform it.”

No doubt.

[Images: Honda]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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61 Comments on “Why Did Honda De-tune the Civic Type R’s 2.0T for 2018 Honda Accord Duty?...”

  • avatar

    How many Accord V6s did Honda sell last year?
    Just deduct that number from 2018 Accord sales total.
    Those customers are at the Camry store.

    • 0 avatar

      Correct. The Toyota V6 is extremely reliable on top of that.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think most people would care. I’d rather have the Accord and the manual shifter.

    • 0 avatar

      And then add all the buyers like ME who this will be their first Honda product… So Excited!

    • 0 avatar

      Camry V-6 is automatic only. That would be a deal-breaker for me.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s one data point, but the 2013 Fusion (the first year without a V6) sold about 20% more than the outgoing model. How many “discerning” buyers care, or could explain the difference between a V6 and a turbo four, and how much just want a little more shove (or to not have to press the gas pedal much, revving’s bad for an engine, donchya know)?

      • 0 avatar

        My dad (and my friend’s dad) are both 70+ years old, but they don’t know each other, they live in different states, and they have wildly different financial situations. One bought an Outback V6, one bought a Camry V6. They both refused to settle for a typical 4-cylinder and also never warmed up to any of the turbos they test-drove. They also both know just about as much about cars as the average 70 year old man, which is to say 1) not much, and 2) what they do know is outdated info. But they still want their smooth, quiet power, and who’s to say that’s wrong?

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t forget that the Camry V6 is much more expensive for 2018, I’m not sure so many people will go for it.

  • avatar

    “With curb weight falling by 110-176 pounds in the new generation”

    Whoa! You waited until the sixteenth paragraph to sneak this amazing gem into the article :)

  • avatar

    VW-Audi has 18 different power levels from 2 turbo engines, in everything from a Jetta S to the Q7.

    • 0 avatar

      Three, actually. Well, actually 4 now that I think about it. The 1.4, 1.8, 2.0. And the GLI/Q3 still uses the older generation 2.0T, so its not quite the same engine as other 2.0Ts. Not sure if the A4s 252hp 2.0T is a newer generation motor than the 220hp 2.0T in the A3, guess that would be yet another model (five).

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    The only people who would care that the 2.0T Accord doesn’t breach the 300hp barrier like the Camry are enthusiasts, and they will probably care far more that the Honda is the one with a clutch pedal.

    The 252hp rating is no big deal, I’d wait until seat time or reliable acceleration tests before worrying about the rated output. The VW GTI certainly doesn’t accelerate like 210hp, and neither do the Civic and CR-V with the 1.5T. The midsize sedan power wars have been inexplicably raging for over 10 years, so I doubt Honda is going to release an Accord that can’t accelerate near the head of the pack.

    • 0 avatar

      “The 252hp rating is no big deal, I’d wait until seat time or reliable acceleration tests before worrying about the rated output.”

      Yep, short of Pike’s Peak or some extended hillclimb race, or a top speed test (which will hit a governor long before maxing out around 160mph)…

      • 0 avatar

        Going uphill, the extra power of the V6 might be less important? You would have less weight on the front wheels!

        I always felt that problem with the Honda Accord was that you could only pick TWO of the following: power, manual transmission, 4 doors. Maybe with the new 2.0T we’ll get to have all three.

        • 0 avatar

          “Going uphill, the extra power of the V6 might be less important?”

          Sunnyvale, you misunderstood.

          In a comparison that needs high horsepower for an extended and *continuous* duration, such as a long, steep grade, that is when turbo lag vs naturally aspirated no lag isn’t really a factor and the turbo engine’s published numbers are pretty true to as-advertised. As compared to start/stop traffic when the turbo engine’s real world performance isn’t as good as the numbers might seem…

  • avatar

    97% of Accord buyers will not notice and get some extra MPG. The other 2.5% will buy the manual and enjoy the boost while still getting decent MPG. The final 0.5% will do an ECU flash to regain the missing HP/TQ to match R engine MPG be damned.

    • 0 avatar

      Pretty much this. A Hondata reflash on the 1.5T ends up at 225 hp and 254 lb-ft (factory is 190hp/191 lb-ft, and the stock Si is 205hp/192 lb-ft) with only a CAI, custom exhaust and a test pipe.

      I full expect to get the 2.0T Accord MT and throw on aftermarket suspension, bigger pipes+exhaust (maybe 3″ dual – not because I want a fart-can ricer, but mainly because I’m assuming they’re gonna go with the 2.25″ that Honda seems to love and a reflashed engine will need the bigger pipes), and a CAI (SRI are useless and ricey).

      I’d be perfectly happy with old V6 numbers of 275ish, but if a reflash brings me closer to 300, that’d be perfect.

  • avatar

    Way back when, Honda was late to the game with a V6 in the Accord; they claimed the performance of the VTEC 4 cylinder was competitive with the Camry V6… and it was at the time. But that didn’t help the consumer’s perception of a 4 banger being of less value.

    But with downsizing (and turbo-ing) of engines coming from all manufacturers, the opposite may be true this time.

  • avatar

    I’m going to guess that they went with a smaller turbo (or one with different turbine geometry) that spools up faster (for a lower torque plateau) but delivers less total boost. (To convert the 1.5T from the Civic to the CR-V (and Si), they did something similar; both use the TD03 turbo, but the CR-V/Si has a different turbine.)

  • avatar

    Honda tuned the 2.0T to better suit the application of the Accord. The HP decrease is a byproduct of this, just like the vastly reduced peak torque rpm.

    Reliability, efficiency, lower cost, smooth power delivery, lower rpm for peak torque, etc. The expectations and requirements of the Accord customer are simply different from the Type-R customer.

    The 1,500rpm torque peak will make the car feel quicker on a test drive and in daily traffic than the old V6.

    For a lot of Accord V6 customers, maybe it isn’t all about the engine. Maybe they see more value in the exclusive options only offered on the high-trim models.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s obviously because if Honda went to 285 or 290, the engines would prove to be as frangible as the transmissions were on the V6s in the early 2000s!

      I’m sure with proper care, oil changes and timely timing belt replacements, the J35 was a 300,000 mile motor.

      This’ll be half that, maybe 175,000 with any luck.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep, for all those reasons you described with increased reliability probably being the biggest.

      It’s the reason why Honda didn’t offer more HP in the Civic Si.

      And why H/K dropped the HP output in their 2.0T and why the Toyota/Lexus 2.0T also doesn’t offer the kind of power that the Germans do in their turbo-4s.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Stop the presses!

    An engine makes different amounts of power in different cars.

    Slow news day…?

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll take your bait (heh).

      I think its a big deal here because you have a sedan with a turbo 4 and a manual transmission. No one else offers that, and it could be a performance goldmine. Then take away the performance.

      The Cadillac CTS 2.0T offers 272 HP and 295 lb-ft of torque.

      The Type R motor would give it performance atop the 2.0t realm, when coupled with the manual, it would potentially fill that magical niche enthusiasts have been begging for.

      The potential raised hopes so much that by downgrading it significantly to BELOW the competition, it really kind of is a buzz kill.

      The Hyundai Sonata… since 2015… has offered 245 HP and 260 lb-ft of torque. Its a mighty fine motor frankly, besides the fact that it sounds like a beehive.

      Noe here comes the Honda! a 2018 Accord 2.0T with 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Incremental improvements over cars like the sonata. Sure I’ll take 252 over 242, but the Type R motor would have made it a class leader.

      So class leader to, meh. Thats newsworthy!

      • 0 avatar

        There are very few enthusiasts “begging” for a plain-jane asian-brand full-size sedan they can drive like, well, a Civic Type-R. This less-aggressive 2.0T will do just fine for the sort of person that’s always habitually checked the box for the engine upgrade, but didn’t really use the power that much. (Which is probably most of the people that picked the V6.)

        They’ll be pleasantly surprised by the low-down torque (which does a great job helping a car feel faster) and not miss the older peak HP and torque, which was only available with the engine screaming before.

  • avatar

    There’s always a complaint. If Honda had left the Type R hardware and tune intact, the review would have said “The turbo lag and noise are really not up to the standards of the class.”

    Between the fatter curve and lighter weight I expect the Accord 2.0T to outperform the current Accord V6 at all speeds that don’t end in a felony charge. But turbo fours just don’t sound right.

    • 0 avatar

      Why would the added power increase turbo lag? Also Turbo engines are usually panned for being too quiet, not the opposite.

      I expect the new turbo 4 will outperform the v6 as you said, but that 300 HP option would have piqued the interest of a lot of buyers considering more expensive Luxury vehicles. Perhaps thats the real reason. They don’t want this accord stepping on too many toes at acura.

      • 0 avatar

        We know the Accord’s turbo is different from the Type R’s. That probably means it’s smaller. Bigger turbos can add more power at high rpm but are more susceptible to lag because they take longer to spin up.

        The bigger turbo will also make louder turbo noises (whining, whooshing, blowoff noise) — and lots of turbo noise has been a consistent theme of the Type R reviews. The turbo noise would come off as entertaining and entirely appropriate for the Type R.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “Why Did Honda De-tune the Civic Type R’s 2.0T for 2018 Honda Accord Duty?”

    Lower boost levels, broader torque curve.

  • avatar

    I will bet $$$ the Accord will run on regular vs the pRRRRemium for the CTR.

  • avatar

    Honda is aware that overboosting engines and heat soaking the entire engine bay with glowing, overstressed turbo parts is the sort of folly only a neophyte boy racer could appreciate.

    Furthermore, Accord drivers will probably not push their vehicles, and they want fuel economy, which means the boost needs to be optimized towards the lower-end of the rev range, rather than providing mid-top pop.

  • avatar

    “Besides, the Accord’s torque figure is now 21-lb-ft stronger than the 2017 Accord V6’s, and it peaks at 1,500 rpm rather than 4,900 rpm.

    With curb weight falling by 110-176 pounds in the new generation, the 2018 Accord 2.0T will undoubtedly accelerate with even greater force than the outgoing Accord V6.”

    Imagine that. It’s an improvement in every practical sense.

    (And, note, roughly comparable with the 2.0T engines in the competition [that has them] – like the Fusion and Malibu.

    Arguably Toyota’s the outlier for still offering an NA V6 these days.)

    • 0 avatar

      Good luck ever seeing that torque at that RPM anywhere but a laboratory. Thanks to turbo lag, in real life the earliest you will see peak boost (and correspondingly torque) is about 2500 RPM.

      • 0 avatar

        Which is still 1/2 the rpm of the V6, even if so.

        With the stick, you will have no problem getting that max tq at low rpm.

        • 0 avatar

          Peak figures are just an instantaneous slice of the pie. Below 2500 that V6 will probably make double the torque of said 2.0Ts, especially in lower gears. And even above 2500 said V6s will have no lag. More torque is not of much value if you have to wait seconds for it to come in… it’s no different than a peaky engine you have to downshift for.

          • 0 avatar

            You obviously have no experience of modern turbos. Boost is all but instantaneous, and if you think a n/a v6 has more torque just off-idle you are in dreamland. The typical Euro 2.0T will pull like a train from well below 2000rpm.

  • avatar

    Leaving room for an Accord Type-R?

  • avatar

    My guess is they don’t want to have a Honda sedan that can smoke any Acura sedan – the expensive ones are supposed to be faster.

  • avatar

    hopefully Honda will has made progress with torque steer in the higher power accord. The 2016 V6 I drove had the worst torque steer of any car I have ever driven.

  • avatar
    George B

    I’m more curious about the weight distribution of the 2.0T 4 cylinder compared to the 3.5 V6. Both have more than enough power, but the FWD layout results in a lot of mass hanging in front of the front wheels on a V6 Accord.

  • avatar

    I’m missing having a solid EIC here.

    …In reality, however, it’s all down to priorities. “For Type R, it’s pretty much all out performance,” Jenkins told TTAC today. “For Accord, it’s not that easy. We need to modify it slightly for that target buyer.”..

    I mean, this whole article is just, “what?”

    You mean Honda decided that Accord buyers are more sensitive to NVH than Civic Type-R buyers? In other news water is wet, the sky is blue, and bears, well, you know.

    A lot of wasted electrons and I’m left wondering, where is our 2.1 million flaming fireball of death Honda recall story like the FCA one.

  • avatar
    Justin Hughes

    At least the aftermarket shouldn’t have a problem tuning the Accord engine back up to Civic Type R numbers. That is if there’s even a market for that.

  • avatar

    All your bhp are belong to us.

  • avatar

    Ignoring the rear end treatment, if you look at it fast, it looks like an Impala.

  • avatar

    Surely what Honda meant to say, but felt constrained not to, is simple: “We developed a sedan grade 2.0t to stick in the Accord for 100,000 sales a year (as upgrade from the standard 1.5t) which was competitive in power to the other 13 2.0t’s on the market. Using that base and already committed investment, we threw in stronger pistons and rods, different cams and a bigger turbo, and for $300 extra we had a performance engine version for the Civic Type R. It was that simple.”

    But it sounds so much better PR the other way around, doesn’t it?: “We developed a super-dynamic Earth Dreams high power 2.0t for the epoch-making Civic Type R. Then one day an engineer had a bright idea which occurred out of the blue. Why don’t we take the Type R engine and detune it for sedan duty in the Accord, he wondered? His colleagues praised him for this revelation and encouraged him to present his idea to management. So he did following much contemplation on the merits of his idea. Following their tentative approval after his presentation had been debated in minute detail, his proposal for development was accepted to many wishes for success from all parts of the company. Thus was born the new Accord optional 2.0t, its precision parts inspired by Type R technology. Yakita (photo showing him grinning shyly with disheveled hair) spent months of dedicated hard work with his team leaving no stone unturned to realize the dream of an advanced powerplant for family car duty, one worthy of the Honda name and tradition.

    I mean you have read Japanese company type PR before, haven’t you? Go to any of their global websites where little vignettes of pure fluff about dedicated employees coming through against all odds are all over the site.

    Even better, this rewriting of history also keeps VTEC Honda fanboys passion fully primed in abject worship, and makes them rabid brand ambassadors for free: “Everyone knows that an inexpensive Hondata tune on the Accord 2.0t will turn it into a fire-breathing monster capable of eating V6 Camry’s for breakfast in Econ Mode, lol – Honda rates their engines for power to the front wheels anyway don’t ya know! They’re strong!”

  • avatar

    a 300 HP accord would have been a great way to grab attention, and maybe acquire some buyers who normally look at entry level Luxury cars.

    They should have let the 252 HP version be the entry level engine and the 300 be the range topper. Or offer all three variants.

    If a sedan is no longer the weapon of choice for a family, maybe make the accord more performance oriented. They certainly gave it the looks of a car that means business, let it drive like one as well.

    With todays tech, they probably could have even made 3 distinct drive modes that utilize different amounts of horsepower. Those are they types of things that would make a buyer think twice before getting that beige Crossover.

    A true liftback for extra utility seems like a no brainer as well. Car companies are always so scared of cannibalizing their other products, instead of making a particular vehicle as great as it can possibly be. With that said, i totally dig the new accord, and would own one.

  • avatar

    The test drives of the prototypes say it’s very fast.

    • 0 avatar

      ^ This!

      Good thing they left the camo on the front, though! All those journosaurs would have torn the entire Tochigi complex apart looking for the sake which inspired the design, especially the gawdawful hood cut!

  • avatar

    “Why Did Honda De-tune the Civic Type R’s 2.0T for 2018 Honda Accord Duty?”

    *Checks power figures of 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec*

    *Checks power figures of 2018 Honda Accord*

    We have a bingo!

  • avatar

    10 speed auto is the answer. Surprised nobody else mentioned it. Considering Honda’s previous failures in the transmission department it makes sense to be conservative.

  • avatar

    Where have I seen that profile before? Oh yeah…
    Thanks, Honda.

  • avatar

    I, for one, would be thrilled to see an Accord Type-R with 350-400 hp, a 8,000 rpm redline, helical-gear limited slip, and 6-speed manual to go hunting Fusion Sports. But with Acura occupying the likely $40K price range this would be in, it’s a non-starter.

    Seriously though, Acura, WTF?!? Why don’t you have this in the oven?

  • avatar


    Accord is detuned for less warranty work while the type R happens to list 1 more hp and 5 more tq than the STI.

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