Gone are the days where premium fuel is reserved for high-end sedans and SUVs. As truck customers demanded more performance from their rigs, manufacturers responded with bigger, more capable V-8s. However, it came with a catch consumers might overlook: Many trucks recommend (or require!) higher-octane of fuel for those top-shelf engines.
This leads to either a higher cost of ownership (if you use premium fuel) or reduced performance from your new truck (if you opt for regular fuel).
You won’t find recommended fuel information on the truck’s window sticker. And unless you ask the dealer, you probably won’t figure it out on the test drive either. So, we’ve done the research for you, compiling a list of new trucks that recommend more than 87 octane.
GMC Sierra 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 1500 6.2L V-8
GM recommends using 93 octane gasoline for its top-of-the-line 6.2-liter V-8-equipped trucks. The owner’s manual does state as low as 87 octane is acceptable for the engine. However, to achieve maximum performance and fuel economy you must use 93.
This problem with a vehicle requiring that octane is 93 isn’t available everywhere. The website find93.com uses crowdsourcing to locate stations in North America that sell 93-octane gasoline. So far, the site has found it across 3,200 stations in 46 states and an additional 200 in Canada. While this might sound like a lot, in many areas of the country, 93 octane is scarce.
Find93.com includes a map of stations that shows 93 is much more available on the east coast than it is on the west coast and middle of the country. In addition to being hard to locate, 93 is often quite a bit more expensive per gallon than 87, which is more commonly used.
Ram 1500 TRX
The 2021 Ram TRX will require, not recommend, 91-octane fuel. This one isn’t too surprising given the TRX uses a high-performance 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 that makes 702 horsepower. While 91 octane is available in most areas, we would like to emphasize the manufacturer requires you to use that grade of fuel. Requires. Using less than 91 could result in denied warranty claims in addition to reduced engine performance.
Ram 1500 (and 1500 Classic) 5.7L V-8
Ram recommends using 89 octane, which is considered mid-grade, in all 1500s equipped with the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 and 5.7-liter V-8 eTorque. However, Ram states in its owner’s manual fuel as low as 87 octane is acceptable, but maximum performance and fuel economy is achieved with 89.
What’s surprising about this octane recommendation is the 5.7-liter is the most popular engine in the 1500 lineup. It’s one step up from the base 3.6-liter V-6 in the Tradesman, Bighorn, Laramie and Rebel. The 5.7 is standard in Limited Longhorn and Limited trims. Although it is not premium fuel, 89 is still quite a bit more expensive than the 87 that you might expect to find in Ram’s volume engine. It will make your trips to the pump hurt the wallet a little more, so we thought it appropriate to include on this list.
Nissan Titan and Titan XD 5.6L V-8
Nissan debuted the 2020 Titan in the fall of 2019 with an updated 5.6-liter V-8. New for 2020, Nissan raised the capability of the standard 5.6-liter to 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. Of course, there’s a catch: To achieve this new rating, you must use 91-octane premium fuel.
Nissan stated at the time, though, the engine more than capable of running on 87 octane, but it will just operate at the same performance as the outgoing 2019 model. This is worth keeping in mind when shopping for a new Titan because if you want that 400 horsepower, you will have to pay more for fuel.
Bonus Round: 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor
Though Ford has yet to release any official details on the upcoming, redesigned Ford F-150 Raptor, there have been rumors of a potential large-displacement V-8 being one of two engine options.
TFL Truck recently reported the new Raptor may get a 5.2-liter supercharged V-8, likely with well more than 700 horsepower. This engine is currently available in the Shelby Mustang GT500, which Ford states runs off premium fuel. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to suspect the next-generation Raptor will come with at least one engine that takes premium fuel, given its place as a high-performance truck.
The bottom line on premium fuel
That closes out our list for the 2020-2021 model years. Unfortunately, it appears to be more and more common to find a V-8 truck that recommends (or requires!) premium fuel. So, it’s important to keep in mind how much you’re willing to spend in fuel and what kind of performance you expect when shopping for your next truck.
So, we want to hear from you! Do you put premium fuel in your truck? If not, would you buy a truck that takes premium fuel?