Today’s precisely engineered cars with their higher-compression turbocharged and direct fuel-injected engines are increasingly recommending the use of costlier premium-grade fuel to achieve their maximum performance potential. And while one might expect high-powered luxury models and sports cars to require the added octane, we found a surprising number of otherwise ordinary cars and crossovers that now rely on premium.
As of this writing the national average for regular-grade gas is $2.66 according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, while premium is going for $3.16. For the mathematically impaired, that’s 50 cents more per gallon; at that, we’ve seen premium-grade fuel costing as much as a dollar per gallon more than regular at some stations in the Chicago area. In California, where residents suffer the steepest fuel prices in the nation, premium is selling for an average $3.40 per gallon. That’s only nominally less than the national average for regular-grade back in 2012 when it hit an all-time high of $3.60 and motorists were snapping up the high-mileage small and midsize cars they’re now dumping in favor of trucks and SUVs.