Do You Splurge On Premium Or Stick With Regular Gas?

Illustration for article titled Let's Debate: Do You Splurge On Premium Or Stick With Regular Gas?

Photo: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)

I am currently standing in the neutral zone of a raging debate that involves both my husband and my boss at A Girls Guide to Cars, Scotty Reiss. It pertains to the age-old question: is it worth the money to fill up your tank with premium gas, or is regular going to do the trick?

I have never regularly driven a car that would really benefit from premium gas, but when I was doing my overnight drives from Philadelphia to Toronto to visit my then-boyfriend (now my husband) Chris, he was adamant that I fill my Mazda 2 up with premium gas. I am usually just going to stick with whatever is cheapest, but he kept telling me that premium was the way to go.

So, on one of my trips home, Chris filled my tank with premium and told me to see what would happen. I was under the impression that I was able to travel farther before I needed to fill up, but in retrospect, that is possibly because he also topped up my tank, which I never do. Anyway, I was impressed enough to just take him at his word because I am too lazy to actually do a proper experiment where I calculate the mileage I travel with different kinds of gas.

But I was recently talking to my boss Scotty about how expensive it is to fill up the gas tank on my ‘96 Suburban, and she was like, “bro why are you even bothering with premium” (except she did not call me ‘bro’ because Scotty is a real adult, unlike me). She enlightened me on the fact that some cars are designed to run at a higher octane and that some cars will get a nice horsepower boost from a premium fuel, but for something like my Mazda or my Suburban, it probably didn’t matter.

My husband, on the other hand, is telling me that I should definitely be using premium in the Suburban because it’s an older, heavier car with a big engine. A running joke between the two of us is that every problem can be solved if you just spend more money, and that’s kind of where I’m falling on this debate. Why not just spend more for the higher-octane gas if it’s not going to cause any harm? At the same time, I’m now facing triple-digit bills at the gas station for the first time with the Suburban, which is a concept that makes me cringe because it cuts into my “buying dumb shit on eBay after I’ve had a glass of wine” budget.

As with most of my conundrums, I am going to outsource further opinions in order to justify my own. Where do you fine folks stand on the octane question? 

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