Why Does Acura Require Premium Fuel?

Before you buy or start driving a Honda Acura, one question may roam in mind, “Why does Acura require premium fuel?” I was even wondering about it. Can’t I use regular fuel in Acura? So, I searched many sources online to know the actual reason. I will discuss them elaboratively in this blog.

Fuels have different octane ratings, classified as regular, midrange, and premium. In terms of Honda Acura, most models have high-performance engines. And these engines require premium fuel. Also, the vehicle can run at its full performance using premium gas.

Particularly, Acura NSX requires gas with a higher octane rating. Some other models that require premium fuel are MDX, RDX, TLX, RLX, and ILX. In other Acura models, you can use regular gas. However, most automotive experts suggest using premium fuel for maximum engine performance.

Acura & The Science of Octane Rating or Number

The relationship between Acura and premium fuel discussion starts with the octane rating. You may see this rating at the gas station: regular unleaded, midgrade, and premium.

Regular unleaded gasoline is also known as “87 octane” (source). It is the most common type of fuel used in vehicles. Hence, this fuel is the most affordable option.

Midrange fuel has an octane rating of 88-90. This type of fuel is slightly different than regular fuel. But it has more additives (source). But both regular and midrange fuel have almost the same performance.

Alternatively, premium gas has an octane rating of 91 or higher (source). The range is usually considered 91-94.

You may have another question: What does the octane rating signify?

According to energy (.gov),  octane rating measures fuel stability. Any fuel with a higher octane number will be more stable.

Here, stability means the fuel’s ability to withstand compression in the engine before igniting. Higher octane fuels (or premium) can withstand more compression. It makes them less likely to ignite prematurely. It’s a phenomenon called “knocking” or “detonation.”

Premature ignition can hamper the vehicle’s performance. It may potentially damage the engine over time. This is why vehicles with high-performance engines like Acura often need or recommend premium gasoline.

These Acura engines have a higher compression ratio. Also, they have technologies like supercharging or turbocharging to force more air into the engine. And when the engine gets more air, it will ignite better and provide enhanced outcomes. Moreover, using higher octane fuel can improve fuel economy.

The cost of premium fuel is typically higher (20-30 cents more per gallon) than regular unleaded or midrange fuels (source). But you can justify the increased cost by boosting performance and reduced premature ignition.

For most regular vehicles, you do not need premium fuel. Instead, regular gas is sufficient for the engines of these vehicles. Using premium fuel in these vehicles may not provide any noticeable benefits.

Acura’s Engine, High Compression Ratios, & Premium Fuel

Acura vehicles are popular worldwide for their high-performance engines. These engines can deliver extreme power and efficiency. Also, they require premium fuel to function optimally. An important thing about Acura’s engine design is the compression ratio.

According to Muscle Car DIY, this compression ratio is a major factor in defining engine performance and fuel efficiency. Feeling confused? Well, this ratio refers to the ratio of:

  • The volume of an engine’s cylinder at the bottom of the piston’s stroke (when the cylinder is at its largest)
  • And the volume at the top of the stroke (when the cylinder is at its smallest).

Scientifically, this ratio can be described as

  • Compression Ratio (CR) = (V1 + V2) ÷ V2


  • V1 = cylinder volume
  • V2 = combustion chamber volume

Suppose engines like Acura vehicles have a higher compression ratio. In that case, they can extract more mechanical energy from a given fuel. These engines can draw more air into the cylinder on the intake stroke. And when more air enters the cylinder, more fuel is burnt. Then, more power is produced on the power stroke.

However, high compression ratio has a downside. Due to the compression of air-fuel inside the cylinder, it heats up. But if it gets too hot, it can ignite prematurely. Here, a phenomenon happens: “engine knocking.” This is the point where or why you need to use premium fuel.

As I said, premium fuel has a higher octane rating than regular or midrange. It can withstand the higher temperature and pressure in the cylinder. Guess what? There will be no “engine knocking.” So the engine can produce more power efficiently. Also, premium gas can save fuel and maintain engine health.

Why Does Acura Require Premium Fuel?

Suppose you are an Acura sedan or SUV owner. In that case, your dealer may have already instructed you to use premium fuel for optimal performance. It’s because the car manufacturer recommends using so for their high-performance engines. These engines have higher compression ratios. Besides, features like supercharging and turbocharging are available in these machines.

Besides preventing engine knocking, premium fuel in Acura has more benefits. It can upgrade the overall performance of your favorite Acura. Particularly, you will see significant performance improvements in those with turbocharged or supercharged engines. Moreover, premium fuel is known to burn slower than regular. So, you will get a better mileage (source).

Another benefit will be the extended life of the Acura engine. If you use premium fuel, it can keep the engine clean. Also, there is less chance of deposit forming. So, the Acura vehicle will get an extended engine life.

According to a study by AAA, using premium fuel can slightly improve performance and efficiency. Particularly, it is more experienceable in vehicles designed for high performance. You can read this article for reference.

Can You Use Regular Fuel on Honda Acura?

This one is another common yet relevant question.

Well, let’s talk about using regular fuel on Acura vehicles. When you use regular fuel, you may not use those features effectively. Also, they may not perform to the fullest. There is even a chance of engine knocking or premature ignition. As a result, engine health will be hampered. After all, regular fuel is less stable with high pressure and temperature conditions.

A study took place on a 2015 Acura TLX four-cylinder model and a 2016 Nissan Maxima V6. Here, both vehicles are recommended to use premium fuel. Still, the tester (Consumer Reports authority) found that these sedans had the same fuel economy as regular and premium fuel.

The Acura NSX is the only model that specifically always requires premium fuel. Premium gas is recommended for other models like the MDX, RDX, TLX, RLX, and ILX. However, occasional use of regular or mid-grade gas is acceptable.

It means you can use regular fuel and save more by using regular gas. For instance, In Chicago, 93 octane costs up to $1.50 more per gallon than 87 octane (source).

However, regular gas may cause a decrease in fuel economy and performance. Using lower-octane fuel can even void the vehicle’s warranty (source).

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you don’t use premium gas in Acura vehicles?

Answer: You can still use regular gas. But if you use it instead of premium gas, engine knocking or premature ignition will happen frequently. It will cause engine damage and reduce fuel economy though regular fuel is cheaper than premium.

Do all Acura sedans or SUVs need premium fuel?

Answer: Except for the Acura NSX, you can use regular gasoline on other models. But the Acura recommends using premium gas.

Can Acura run on regular gas?

Answer: Yes, you can use regular gas on any Acura vehicle except NSX (particularly runs on premium gas only).

The Bottom Line: Is Premium Fuel Worth It for Acura Owners?

The conversation on “Why does Acura require premium fuel?” ends here! But wait! I am giving you a quick summary of the whole blog.

Primarily, the most immediate drawback of using premium fuel is the higher cost at the pump. According to AAA’s fuel gauge report, the current regular gas price is $3.819, while the premium one is $4.577 on average. So, you need to count an extra $0.758 for using premium fuel.

But there are lots of benefits of using premium fuel in Acura vehicles. For instance, premium fuel can enhance the performance of high-performance engines like Acura. Also, it can improve fuel efficiency and reduce engine knocking.

In the long run, there is less chance of having issues with Acura engines if you use recommended fuel. So, Acura owners can save more money by avoiding costly engine repairs. They can also get more resale value.  

I would add another point regarding using premium fuel on the Honda Acura. This fuel type contains more detergents and other chemicals to keep the engine clean. It will surely prolong the life of the vehicle’s powertrain.

Overall, I conclude the discussion with the suggestion – you should use premium fuel on Acura for maximum benefits.

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