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Finances & Money

Challenge: Premium Fuel Car versus Regular Octane Truck

Last weekend, we took the Honda Ridgeline truck home to PA for the holiday. During the entire trip, we drove 650 miles. During the drive, Stacie wondered how much more we were spending in gas by taking the truck versus the MINI Cooper or even the Pontiac Grand Am.

So, we did some calculations based on average highway mileage, but lowered due to higher driving speeds. For example, the MINI is rated at 34 mpg highway, but I’ll say we would have gotten 30 to keep it simple.


Truck: 20 miles per gallon, 87 Octane gas @ $3.04 per gallon

The cost for going 650 miles in the truck was $98.80.

MINI: 30 miles per gallon, 93 Octane gas @ 3.34 per gallon

Although the MINI only requires 91 Octane, it’s usually not available. The other option is to mix 93 and 89, but that seems like a pain.

So, the cost for going 650 miles in the MINI would have been $72.36

Pontiac: 30 miles per gallon, 87 Octane gas @ 3.04 per gallon

The cost for going 650 miles in the Pontiac would have been $65.86


Obviously the best choice by price for this long trip would have been taking the Pontiac at a $33 savings over the truck. However, although the Pontiac seems to run fine, we don’t want to rely on its reliability for long trips. Also, we weren’t sure if there would be poor weather in PA, and the truck’s AWD handles inclement weather nicely.

The other option is to drive the MINI, but Stacie likes to “give it a rest” after driving it all week to work. Also, my butt doesn’t fit too nicely in the MINI’s seat. Driving for 8+ hours over 4 days would have become a bit uncomfortable. For us, the added expense to take the truck is worth the added room, visibility, traction and power for this one trip.

So, as much as people say “Why would you drive that big thing when you have an efficient 4-banger?”, we don’t mind taking on the extra cost. Right now, the main thing that would prevent us from driving the truck, or even owning it, would be a big loss in our income, as I said in my article “What could you give up when you’re in financial trouble – Part Two“.

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Clever Dude


  • CleverDude – I have been using regular unleaded in our Mini for 2 years now with no problems. New cars (especially not high-performance ones) don’t need high-octane – it’s a scam. This coming from my Aunt who is a service adviser for a major auto manufacturer. Just an FYI.

  • I don’t know that it’s a Scam per se, but David’s right,.. newer cars don’t NEED premium fuel. I drive an Acura TL which requires premium, although I’ve almost always used regular.

    That’s not to say that you wont hurt anything by using regular. I don’t know. I’m sure you can accumulate more carbon build up inside the engine by not using the right type of fuel, but that’s negligible.

    Fact of the matter is that premium fuels are required ‘in order to obtain the fuel economy and performance figures advertised by the manufacturer.’ You may loose a little by switching to regular, but I doubt you’ll notice.

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