I recently installed a new air filter in my 2012 Honda Civic 1.8L. It's a Denso filter purchased from Rock Auto.
Driving with this new air filter felt different. Cruising at 50-60 mph then pressing down the accelerator a bit to speed up (without the tranny downshifting), the engine noise became much louder and coarse inside the car, almost like it was really straining to accelerate. The noise increase made me wonder if I might have an exhaust leak or bad muffler. It also felt like I had to step on it a little more than usual to get the tranny to downshift, and when it did, engine noise inside the car also seemed louder than usual.
Luckily, the old filter was still on top in the trash can in my garage, and it didn't look too bad. So, I put the old filter back in for a couple of days, and everything was normal again. The engine sounded nice and smooth. I tried the new filter again for a day, and the "problem" returned, so I'm back to the old filter again for now.
I believe the old one is a Mahle brand filter, also from Rock Auto. Can there be that much difference between the two filters? The Denso filter product description on Rock does state "Three layer design to catch the maximum number of particles," so maybe there is more restriction in that filter?