Which Luxury Cars Don't Recommend or Require Premium Gas?

By Kelsey Mays  on March 31, 2014

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Want a luxury car without having to pay for premium gas? We can't blame you. As of March 21, a gallon of premium averaged $3.87 nationwide, according to AAA. That's 35 cents more than a gallon of the cheap stuff. Drive 15,000 miles a year at 25 mpg, and the premium, er, premium adds up to $210.

Premium Gas: Do I Have to Use It?

Luxury brands often charge extra — sometimes absurd amounts — for premium extravagances, and gas is no exception. Most luxury-car owners are accustomed to paying extra for premium fuel, which higher-compression engines often prefer. Still, most engines today can adapt ignition timing to account for less-than-premium gasoline at a slight cost to performance. That's why makers of many luxury cars that take premium gas merely recommend it for full power. Unless yours requires it — something that relatively few stipulate, even in the luxury crowd — you won't damage the engine by filling up with 87-octane.

But what if you want a luxury car that makes all its advertised power without any premium preference? We talked to company representatives, combed through specs and downloaded more owners manuals than we can count. And yes, we found a handful of luxury cars that actually recommend the cheap stuff.

Here they are:

Buick

  • 2014 LaCrosse, all versions
  • 2014 Regal with 2.4-liter four-cylinder (turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder recommends premium)
  • 2014 Verano with 2.4-liter four-cylinder (turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder recommends premium)
  • 2014 Enclave, all versions
  • 2014 Encore, all versions

Cadillac

  • 2015 ATS coupe with 3.6-liter V-6 (turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder recommends premium)
  • 2014 ATS sedan with 2.5-liter four-cylinder or 3.6-liter V-6 (turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder recommends premium)
  • 2014 CTS coupe and wagon with any V-6 (V-8 CTS-V coupe and wagon require premium)
  • 2014 CTS sedan with non-turbo 3.6-liter V-6 (turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder recommends premium; turbo 3.6-liter V-6 requires premium)
  • 2014 XTS with non-turbo 3.6-liter V-6 (turbo 3.6-liter V-6 requires premium)
  • 2014 SRX, all versions

Lincoln

  • 2014 MKZ and MKZ Hybrid, all versions
  • 2014 MKX, all versions
  • 2015 MKC, all versions
  • 2014 Navigator and Navigator L, all versions
  • 2014 MKT with 3.7-liter V-6 (turbo 3.5-liter V-6 recommends premium)
  • 2014 MKS with 3.7-liter V-6 (turbo 3.5-liter V-6 recommends premium)

Lexus

  • 2014 ES 350 and ES 300h hybrid, all versions
  • 2014 RX 350, all versions (RX 450h hybrid recommends premium)
  • 2014 CT 200h hybrid, all versions

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Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price.  Email Kelsey