Honda B18 vs. Honda B20: Which is Better?

Since its emergence in 1988, the Honda B-series of engines are stacked and full of engines that can live to their uppermost potential with the right hand to put them in the right place. These engines, even without turbochargers, can talk business to you. And the two engines we are talking about are the B18 and B20 -the two heavyweights from the B-series. They are often compared and swapped since they have the exact attributes, almost identical power outputs, and dimensions.

But let’s emphasize their individual rundown, costs around the engine, and see which is a better fit for a particular application and which can outrun the other.

Let’s get right to it!

The Honda B18 engine

  • Production Run: 1990 – 2001
  • Cylinder Head Material: Aluminum
  • Cylinder Block Material: Aluminum
  • Configuration: Inline-4
  • Bore: 81 mm
  • Stroke: 87.2 mm
  • Valvetrain: DOHC four valves per cylinder
  • Displacement: 1.8 L
  • Compression Ratio: 11.1
  • Weight: 403 lbs.
  • Maximum HP: 200 HP at 8,200 RPM
  • Maximum Torque: 129 lb-ft at 7,500 RPM

The Honda B18 is a naturally-aspirated, straight-four, 1.8 Liter gasoline engine produced by the Honda Motor Company from 1990 – 2001. It was officially launched in 1990 for the luxury vehicle Acura Integra. Early B18 versions are not equipped with the variable timing technology, VTEC, until the arrival of the Honda B18C engine, which is music for Honda fanboys. It even turned the B18C engine into a sit-down topic for gatherings and automotive debates. B18C can be found in 1996 – 2001 Honda Integra JDM Type R.

The most common and popular version of the B18 engine is the B18C. Though all of the machines are worth knowing, B18C is more commonly seen and used for tuning and other upgrades.

You can quickly identify this engine with its silver top with red accents; radiator top hose connection that goes behind the head.

The B18 cylinder block and heads are made from lightweight aluminum alloy material with cast-iron cylinder wall liners to increase the overall strength of the block. Initial B18s are SOHC but later on, switched to DOHC head with 16 valves with four valves per cylinder – both two for the intake and exhaust. Succeeding releases of the B-series were integrated with a DOHC head with enlarged intake and exhaust valves, thick valve systems, oil jets, revised fuel injectors, strengthened cams, and improved intake and exhaust valves.

B18 engines are also excellent in its power to weight ratio, that means that its weight corresponds to the power it can produce, nothing less. Without a turbocharger, the B18s can produce up to 178 HP at 7,600 RPM, 128 lb-ft of torque, and it is equipped with the VTEC system that engages at 5,700 RPM. Redline is at 8,000 RPM.

Honda B18 engines have various versions, and it all depends on the target market and demand.

B18A1 engine is the initial and first-generation release of the B18 engine installed in the Acura Integra. It is not equipped with the variable valve timing VTEC, but it is integrated with a programmed fuel injection system and can produce 132 HP, 121 lb-ft of torque, and a compression rating of 9.2. Redline is at 6,500 RPM.

B18A1 is a more refined version of the B18A1. It has a higher power output at 142 HP, more significant torque production at 127 lb-ft. In addition to that, air filters were added, ECU program, fuel injectors, and other camshafts were also enhanced. It appears in the 1994 – 2001 Integra, 1993 – 1994 JDM Honda Integra, and 1992 – 1996 JDM Honda Domani. Redline is at 6,800 RPM (7,200 RPM on Domani). Honda released a B18 variant exclusive for the Australian market called B18B2.

B18B3 version is made for the Middle East and South Africa Honda Civic. It was rated at 143 HP and 123 lb-ft of torque. The analog version, B18B4, has increased power to 140 HP and 126 lb-ft of torque. They both have a compression rating of 9.2.

Honda also releases a sport version under the name of B18C Type R. It is a line developed exclusively for the Honda Integra Type R.

This performance-based engine is equipped with a new intake manifold and Honda’s VTEC system that engages at 5,800 RPM with a redline that marks 8,300 RPM.

B18C engines can produce 197 HP, 131 lb-ft of torque, and a higher compression rating of 11.1. The analog version of the JDM B18C, B18C1, is made for the US market Acura Integra GSR but has a lower compression ratio of 10, VTEC engagement at 4,400 RPM, 170 HP, 128 lb-ft of torque.

Honda released a B18C1 analog in B18C2 name and made for the Honda Integra VTi-R in Australia and New Zealand markets. To add, B18C3 is for Asian Market and the B18C4 for Honda Civic in European markets.

The last is the B18C5 which is the analog for the JDM B18C Type-R for the USDM Acura Integra Type R. The B18C5 has new pistons installed, strengthened camshafts, deeper valve reliefs, and lighter connecting rods. Also, Honda made head porting, a larger throttle body, double valve springs, new spark plugs, more lightweight intake valves, and a more straightforward exhaust system. It is equipped with the Honda VTEC system engaging at 5,700 RPM, redline at 8,300 RPM. The engine can produce 195 HP, 10.6 compression rating, and 130 lb-ft of torque. Lastly, B18C6 is an analog for the European market, and B18C7 is an analog for the Australian market.

The Honda B20 engine

  • Production Run: 1995 – 2002
  • Cylinder Head Material: Aluminum
  • Cylinder Block Material: Aluminum
  • Configuration: Inline-4
  • Bore: 84 mm
  • Stroke: 89 mm
  • Valvetrain: DOHC four valves per cylinder
  • Displacement: 2.0 L (1972 cc)
  • Compression Ratio: 8.8 to 9.6
  • Weight: 320 lbs.
  • Maximum HP: 150 HP at 6,300 RPM
  • Maximum Torque: 135 lb-ft at 4,500 RPM

The Honda B20 engine is also naturally aspirated. It is the largest engine in the Honda B-series family of engines, including the B16, B17, and B18. The cylinder block of the B20 engine is made from aluminum with cast iron cylinder liners. All B20 engine releases are installed with 16-valve non-VTEC belt-driven double overhead cams on the cylinder block. However, there are variants for the B20 also. The initial launch of B20 was in 1996 – 1998, and it has a compression rating of 8.8, can produce up to 126 HP at 5,400 RPM, and the torque production is 133 lb-ft at 4,800 RPM. Redline is at 6,500 RPM. This engine appeared in USDM and JDM Honda CR-V, Stepwgn, S-MX, and JDM Orthia.

The next release was in 1999 – 2001, also a non-VTEC variant, and it is under the name of B20B8 in USDM CR-V and B20B on Honda Orthia. This engine has a new intake manifold, intake camshaft, higher compression rating of 9.6, ECU, and a different oil pump. B20B8 or B20B can produce 150 HP at 6,200 RPM, 140 lb-ft of torque at 5,500 RPM, and a redline of 6,800.

In Japan, Honda released a B20B in 1995 – 1997, which can be found in JDM Honda Orthia and CR-V. There are two variants for this, both are non-VTEC engine but varies on their respective power production. The highest rating for the JDM B20B engine is 150 HP which is released in 1998 but ended its production in 2002. The redline is at 6,500 and the rev limiter at 7,300 RPM.

Engine Potential

In terms of their tuning potential, B18 engines are more capable of handling higher power outputs than B20, which certainly gains an edge over it. Mainly due to B18’s, particularly the B18C Type R, stock internals meant to perform in such conditions. It is also worth noting that B18 engines are VTEC integrated, making them more efficient in higher RPM and speeds. Without VTEC, you will consume more fuel in that range. But, don’t be overconfident, especially when reaching higher power outputs like 300 HP because the reliability will not be as it may seem. It can hold but cannot live in those numbers for years.

On the other hand, 300 HP is kind of hard to reach for the B20 in its stock form, so you will have to buy internals and swap heads to get VTEC.

Problems that Surround Both Engines

In their respective years of launching, both engines are durable and reliable. But as the years go by, the levels of this factor go down.

Considering the engines’ both age, they are almost the same. But, B20s are far more reliable, not only against the B18 but also across the B-series engine. However, some parts are more vulnerable than others, like cam seals, head gaskets, water pumps, and thermostat failure.

Even though B18s have stronger internals, it does not mean that reliability highlights its strength, but B18 has proven otherwise mainly due to the amount of wear that this engine experience with its power.

Use high-quality engine oil and regularly service the engine for them to last longer.

Summary

Both engines have sky-high potentials and have their turfs to prove their abilities. Engine swapping is also common for both of them since they bear the same family. But, like as we mentioned, it will cost more money on one of these.

B20 and B18 in stock forms, the B18 can outrun the B20 off the bat. But if you invest in making your B20 faster, like changing and replacing all the parts with performance ones, it can beat the B18 for sure since it is the only Honda with an 89 mm cylinder – you just need money for that. But overall, B18 makes the most of its engine potential, translating in power, torque, and overall satisfaction for the amount of money you spent.

If you want a performance-based and stronger internals right to the start, you can opt for the B18, emphasizing the B18C Type R. But in the longer run, B20 is better than the B18 since this engine tends to wear out kind of quickly.

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