Generally, there’s an idea that if you drive a luxury car, you need to put premium gas in your tank. The concept is almost as universal that luxury car owners have the money to fuel their cars with premium gas, so that’s what they do whether the car demands it or not.
The reality is that gas is an expense. Once you’ve filled your tank, there’s no brilliant beacon on your car to tell the world you’ve just filled up with the good stuff. So whether you use premium or not, no one else will ever know. Using premium fuel is important only if your vehicle actually requires it, otherwise, you’re literally burning your money.
Some luxury cars truly do require premium gas. Those vehicles are high-performance and typically have high-compression engines. Regular gas is less stable under pressure and high heat and can actually ignite before the spark occurs in the cylinder on the compression stroke. This is where the terms “spark knock” and “pinging” come from. It’s an actual, audible noise from early detonation which can eventually cause permanent damage in the engine.
Gasoline with higher octane (AKA premium gas) is more stable and can withstand the extra compression from high-performance engines. It detonates when the spark plug ignites the air-fuel mixture, resulting in smoother running, more efficient, and more powerful operation.
While some luxury cars truly need premium gas, many others don’t actually require premium gas and can run just as well with regular gasoline. They may not be the most powerful of the luxury car lineup but still fall solidly in the luxury category. It’s not uncommon to see “premium fuel recommended” in the owner’s manual and by the fuel cap.
1. 2014 Volvo XC90
The Volvo XC90 is a premium luxury SUV comparable to the likes of Land Rover and Audi’s sport utility vehicles. The sexy, elegant XC90 is powered by a 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine with 240 horsepower. The 2014 Volvo XC90 wraps its occupants in supple leather and pampers them with the finest features and options you can dream of in an SUV.
The Volvo XC90 recommends the use of premium fuel, but it is not required. It will operate completely normally with regular gasoline, though you may notice a small power increase with premium gas.
2. 2013 Infiniti M37
Rivalling the German luxury car-slash-sports sedan segment is the Infiniti M37 sedan. The names BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi are long forgotten when you’ve had a chance to drive the M37. The crisp, responsive handling combined with riveting acceleration is enough to satiate even the most critical of drivers, and the looks don’t hurt one little bit. It’s rounded fenders and accents are recognizably Infiniti and there’s just enough chrome to be tasteful.
The 2014 Infiniti M37 is sport-sedan first with its 3.7-liter V6 engine and 330 horsepower. You can fuel the M37 with regular gas with no ill effects, though the standard “premium fuel recommended” label still applies.
3. 2014 Buick Lacrosse
Unless you’ve experienced the Buick Lacrosse, you probably think it’s your grandpa’s car. That stigma no longer holds true, and the Lacrosse fully seated itself at the luxury car table. Whether you opt for the fuel-sipping 2.4-liter 4-cylinder or the 3.6-liver V-6, you won’t have to pull up to the premium pump to fill up your tank. The well-equipped, plush, luxurious, and sporty Buick Lacrosse requests regular fuel, completely without the recommendation of premium.
In addition to your savings with regular fuel only, the 2014 Buick Lacrosse makes the list of luxury cars with the lowest insurance costs. Expect roughly 20 percent savings to insure your Lacrosse compared with similar cars in the luxury segment.
4. 2013 Cadillac ATS
Cadillac makes the Top 10 list twice, and the first is the ATS sedan. Without a doubt, Cadillacs all belong in the luxury car segment, incorporating the top end of luxury and comfort with reliable operation. While many Cadillac owners must pull up to the premium pump and spend premium money, ATS owners can save their bucks with regular gas - for the most part, anyway.
For a 2014 Cadillac ATS equipped with the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder or the 3.6-liter V-6, regular gasoline will do just fine. However, if you’ve chosen the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, you’re stuck taking premium fuel.
5. 2011 Hyundai Equus
I know, there’s a revolt forming because Hyundai made a luxury car list. Don’t click away from here quite yet, because the Equus really deserves the title. With quad captains chairs wrapped in your choice of three exquisite leathers, luxury features found on cars twice the price, and invigorating performance from the 4.6-liter V-8 engine, you’re going to be shocked at what the new Hyundai brand can do.
It’s just gravy that you can save on fuel costs as well. The Equus recommends premium fuel, though it is not required. Feel free to use regular gas with no detrimental effect.
6. 2014 Lincoln MKZ
Premium car brand Lincoln has elevated its offerings to include business-class and luxury sport sedans like the MKZ. Built with elegant detail including wood and aluminum accents, luxury options like heated and cooled front seats, you’d expect a premium luxury car like this to need premium fuel. Not so!
The MKZ sedan has a 3.6-liter V-6 that operates on regular fuel without even a recommendation for premium gas. Another bonus - the hybrid model with a 2.5-liter engine also uses only regular fuel (in addition to electric power, obviously.)
7. 2015 Lexus ES350
Don’t pass by the Lexus ES350 without a second glance. What used to be a drab-looking sedan for old people now appeals to every age range. Sharp, sexy lines and piercing lights make the Lexus ES350 a breathtakingly fresh sight for sore eyes, and its 268-horsepower V-6 is peppy enough to back its aggressive appearance.
Mostly due to its close correlation with Toyota, the Lexus ES350 requires only regular gasoline.
8. 2012 Cadillac CTS
The second entry from Cadillac is the CTS sedan. It’s always been synonymous with luxury, offering spirited performance while cradling the driver and their passengers in a well-appointed cabin. It has everything you expect in your standard luxury car - leather seats, posh suspension, heated seats, every power feature you can think of, and an obvious attention to detail with regards to fit and finish.
The 3.0-liter engine requires just regular-grade gasoline as well, which is good because the CTS doesn’t boast the best fuel economy.
9. 2011 Lexus CT200h
In 2011, Lexus introduced us to its new hybrid model, the CT200h. It’s a compact luxury hatchback, featuring a sporty, refined interior with enough comfortable seating for four adults, and the standard luxury car equipment - leather, power everything, and elegant looks. Its cherry on top is its phenomenal fuel economy, combining electric power with a 1.8-liter gas-powered engine. Now you can achieve 40 miles per gallon and once again, only regular fuel is needed.
10. 2010 Lincoln MKS
The 2010 Lincoln MKS is equipped with all the tech features you’d expect in a car of its class. Navigation, chrome-trimmed bezels, sleek, refined appearance, and a functional interior wrapped in premium leather all lends itself to Lincoln’s reputation of superior engineering. Its 3.7-liter engine provides a stout 273 horsepower for invigorating performance, fueled solely on regular gasoline.