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Honda’s newest Civic Type R has been in the spotlight recently as it is the first one to land on American shores, but we can’t forget about the standard Civic hatchback that made it all possible. Car And Driver certainly didn’t and they’ve recently reviewed a 2017 Civic Hatchback in Sport Touring with an automatic transmission.

As the trim suggests, the Sport Touring hatch is a combination of fun driving performance, comfort, ease of use, and practicality. The chassis tuning may not have been changed from the base trim models, but it does have a set of 18-inch rolling stock wheels with all-season tires and a steering ratio of 11.1:1.

Also unchanged is the 16-valve 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four engine, but in both the Sport and the Sport Touring trims do get upgraded knock sensors and a center-exit dual exhaust. Add in some premium fuel and your hatch could pump out a claimed 180 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque, a 6hp boost compared to regular unleaded fuel.

Sure, some drivers will prefer a manual transmission, but according to the review, Honda’s CVT is “one of the best currently on the market.” It is responsive to throttle input and it enabled the Sport Touring hatch to sprint from 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds, dash from 30-50 mph in 3.9 seconds, and complete a quarter mile in in 15.4 at 93 mph.

Add on 23 cubic feet of cargo space, quiet cabin, daily-driver livable ride quality and you have an exceptional vehicle for just $29,175.
 

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Hmmm positive comments on the CVT.I like that.
 

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Ditto!! dealerships are full of Civics in my neck of the woods.
 

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Easy for CVT to be one of the best during a time people are traveling less and if they do drive its in something simple. Manual transmission owners will always be the minority. Its just special models where that doesn't happen but that's not happening with Honda.
 

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Fact or Fiction?: Premium Gasoline Delivers Premium Benefits to Your Car
Exploding the myth that premium gasoline delivers better performance in the average automobile
By David Biello on January 18, 2007

Editor’s Note (10/06/16]): A recent report from the AAA automobile club indicates that American drivers wasted more than $2.1 billion dollars in the last year by using premium-grade gasoline in vehicles designed to run on regular fuel. This Fact or Fiction article from Scientific American—originally published online January 18, 2007—explains exactly why so-called “premium” gasoline does not create premium performance in automobiles unless they are specifically designed to take advantage of a higher-octane fuel mixture.
Premium gasoline must be premium for a reason. After all, one of that adjective's definitions is "a high value or a value in excess of that normally or usually expected," according to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. Therefore, premium gasoline must be better, otherwise why would it be called premium? The answer to that question lies in the dynamics of the typical internal combustion engine, the process of refining gasoline from oil, and another definition of "premium"—this one from its noun form: "a sum over and above a regular price paid chiefly as an inducement or incentive."
First and foremost, premium gas really is a better fuel in terms of the power it provides in the right engine. All gasoline is a heady brew of many different hydrocarbon molecules, ranging from heptane (seven carbon atoms and 16 hydrogens) [see endnote] to decane (10 carbons and 22 hydrogens) and beyond. The hydrocarbon clearly identified on the pump is octane (eight carbon atoms and 18 hydrogens). This number, however, is not a measure of the percentage of octane actually in the gas itself. Rather, it is a measure of how that gasoline compares with a pure mixture of octane and heptane. At special laboratories across the globe, chemists concoct such reference fuels and then use them in comparison with refined gasoline following the dictates of standardized measures. "The American Society of Testing and Materials has this thick document on how you determine octane rating with this specialized one-cylinder engine," explains Joseph Shepherd, a mechanical engineer at the California Institute of Technology. "The higher the number the harder it is to have knock."
"Knock"—an unregulated explosion in a chamber designed for highly regulated combustion—is the bane of an internal combustion engine. During the four-stroke cycle of a typical car motor, the piston drops in the cylinder, allowing it to fill with a mixture of gasoline and air. The piston then moves up again, compressing the fuel mix and, when it reaches the top, the spark plug ignites the explosive vapor, driving the piston down again. As the piston returns to the top of the cylinder it expels what remains of the spent fuel out through the exhaust valves and the whole process starts again. Knock occurs when the compression of the fuel and air mixture alone, and not the spark plug, sets off an explosion. This results in a very loud noise and a lot of vibrations in the engine itself; "it's very bad for engines mechanically," Shepherd notes, driving the piston down before it has reached the top of its cycle. Each hydrocarbon molecule behaves differently under pressure, but octane resists the temptation to explode better than its volatile cousin heptane. "You rate the gasoline about how it knocks compared to this reference mixture," explains William Green, a chemist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "One's that don't knock very much are the premium." That is, they behave in an engine as if they have a high proportion of octane, even if they don't.
Most modern cars, however, are designed to employ a specific compression ratio, a measure of how much room is available to the fuel when the piston is at the bottom and the top of the cylinder. This compression ratio—somewhere in the neighborhood of eight to one—tolerates lower octane fuels (such as regular gasoline, good old 87 octane) without knocking. "The compression ratio is fixed by the designer of the engine," Green says. "The regular fuel will burn properly and the premium fuel will burn properly and therefore there is no reason you should pay the extra money." High-performance engines, such as those in some sports cars or older, heavier automobiles, often boast much higher compression ratios. These cars—for example, Shepherd's Subaru WRX—require premium gasoline and will definitely knock without it. "I have to put the 92 octane in," he says. "It has a turbocharger."
Such high compression ratios—and the premium fuels that go with them—could be turned to efficiency, rather than speed, Green notes, especially if put into the engines of lighter cars like his Honda Civic. Other automotive fuels, such as ethanol, can also offer high octane ratings, allowing oil companies to use more volatile gasoline in such blends. But for standard cars on the road today, purchasing premium gasoline is simply paying a premium for a fuel that delivers no added benefits. "If you think you need it," Green says, "you're being very eccentric."
Note: This article was changed after publication to correct an error. It originally stated that heptane has 14 hydrogen atoms.
 

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A recent report from the AAA automobile club indicates that American drivers wasted more than $2.1 billion dollars in the last year by using premium-grade gasoline in vehicles designed to run on regular fuel. This Fact or Fiction article from Scientific American—originally published online January 18, 2007—explains exactly why so-called “premium” gasoline does not create premium performance in automobiles unless they are specifically designed to take advantage of a higher-octane fuel mixture..
The Sport Touring recommends 91 octane or higher. It is specifically designed to take advantage of higher-octane fuel. The article does not apply to the Sport Touring and I have noticed a difference in mileage and performance when using 93 octane.
 

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Most modern cars, however, are designed to employ a specific compression ratio, a measure of how much room is available to the fuel when the piston is at the bottom and the top of the cylinder. This compression ratio—somewhere in the neighborhood of eight to one—tolerates lower octane fuels (such as regular gasoline, good old 87 octane) without knocking.
That's a true statement. One should keep in mind, however, that the 1.5 Civic GDI engine has a 10.5:1 compression ratio, not 8:1, 8.5:1, 9:1. . . The engine management system has been developed to allow an engine with a high compression ratio to operate on lower octane fuels without detonation, but at the cost of lower performance and mildly lower fuel economy.

What does the manufacturer say? We all know the answer: 87 for all models except for the Sport and Sport Touring, Si, and Type R. For those a higher octane is recommended, although these cars will operate somewhat trouble-free on 87. It's important to note here that all motor fuels (in the US, anyway) begin their life at a fuel depot as 87 octane, and that anti-knock additives are blended with the 87 to create the other fuel grades. This is not done in a lab somewhere but is literally taking place on the tanker truck that's delivering the fuel to your local dealer. The process has been pretty well refined (no pun intended), and fuel dealers can generally ensure that the fuel dispensed from their pumps meets the formulated octane requirements as labeled.

Will using the premium fuel hurt your engine if 87 is what's called for? No, not even a little. Will my engine have a shorter life if I continue to use the 87 instead of upgrading to 89+? No, it shouldn't, but why would you chance it?

To me I see it as more of an economic question: how much more will it cost me to fuel up with the "Premium" fuel over the "Regular". Cost difference is about $0.25-$0.40 USD per gallon, and with my typical 10-ish gallon fill I'm seeing maybe $4.00 more to go with the higher octane. Seems reasonable to me so that's what I've used since day one.

A footnote (actually, two of them):

1. Prior to my 2017 Hatch I had a 2007 Civic EX Coupe with the R18A1 (140hp 1.8L, 10.5:1 compression). Honda's fuel specification for this was 87 octane, yet my wife's 2013 Acura ILX with the R20A1 (150hp 2.0L, 10.5:1 compression) specifically calls out "Premium Fuel Only". This is the same basic engine with only a small displacement bump and ten extra horsepower separating them, so why the different requirement?

2. A friend previously owned a 2007 Acura TL, which was a gorgeous car and absolutely incredible to drive. This car featured the J32A3 engine (270hp 3.2L V6, 11:1 compression), and at the same time I had a 2006 Accord EX Sedan with the J30A5 engine (244hp 3.0L V6, 10:1 compression). Bob's Acura specified "Premium Fuel Only", which my friend heeded only occasionally because he was a cheap-ass, and his car made it through over 200k miles with no engine issues. My Accord only required 87 octane yet I always used the premium fuel.

To me this all comes down to marketing: Acura is Honda's premium brand and they market the upscale models as "sportier". Indeed, they typically have slightly more power, but the actual amount is negligible and they're both using essentially the same engines. I feel that the Honda brand specifies the use of 87 octane as a marketing feature; the car is cheaper to own because it can use cheaper fuel. The reality is that all of these cars will benefit from a higher octane solely based on the compression ratios. . . As a rule of thumb you should use a minimum of 89 octane AKI ((R+M)/2 method) for engines of greater than 9.5:1 compression.
 

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I am a Sport Touring owner and I agree with the OP.
 
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