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Does The Subaru Ascent Need Premium Gas?

Does The Subaru Ascent Need Premium Gas?

For Canadian families seeking a spacious, capable, and safe SUV, the Subaru Ascent has emerged as a popular choice. With its roomy three-row interior, advanced safety features, and legendary Subaru all-wheel-drive capabilities, the Ascent offers the versatility to haul kids, gear, and even the occasional trailer with ease.

However, one question often arises among prospective and current Ascent owners: Does this family-friendly SUV require premium gasoline, or can it run efficiently on regular unleaded fuel? The answer to this query can have a significant impact on long-term ownership costs and overall value.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the fuel requirements of the Subaru Ascent, examining when premium fuel is recommended, and when regular gasoline will suffice. By understanding the nuances of fuel octane ratings and their impact on performance and efficiency, Ascent owners can make informed decisions at the pump, potentially saving hundreds of dollars each year.

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Recommended Fuel for the Subaru Ascent

When it comes to fueling your Subaru Ascent, the automaker’s recommendation is clear: regular 87 octane unleaded gasoline is the way to go for everyday driving and hauling needs. This is the fuel grade specified by Subaru for normal Ascent usage, ensuring optimal performance and efficiency without the need for premium fuel.

By opting for regular unleaded gas, Ascent owners can enjoy the convenience and cost savings associated with this widely available fuel option. The Ascent’s robust engine is designed to run smoothly and deliver ample power for daily commutes, errand runs, and family adventures without requiring the higher octane levels found in premium gasoline.

Subaru’s recommendation to use regular fuel in the Ascent underscores the vehicle’s practicality and versatility. As a family-oriented SUV, the Ascent prioritizes value and affordability, making regular gasoline the sensible choice for most driving scenarios. Whether you’re hauling kids to school, running errands around town, or embarking on a weekend getaway, the Ascent’s performance on regular fuel meets the demands of typical driving conditions.


When Premium Fuel is Advised for the Ascent

While regular 87 octane gasoline is perfectly suitable for most everyday driving scenarios in the Subaru Ascent, there are certain situations where premium fuel is recommended. One of the primary instances when higher octane gas is advised is when towing heavy loads or placing the engine under significant stress.

The Ascent’s robust 2.4-liter turbocharged BOXER engine is capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. However, hauling a substantial trailer or load places increased demands on the engine, subjecting it to higher temperatures and pressures. In these high-stress conditions, premium fuel with a higher octane rating can help prevent pre-detonation or engine knocking.

Pre-detonation, also known as engine knock or ping, occurs when the air-fuel mixture in the cylinder ignites prematurely before the spark plug fires. This uncontrolled combustion can cause damage to the engine over time if left unchecked. Higher octane fuels are more resistant to pre-detonation, allowing the engine to operate under greater stress without risk of knocking.

By using premium fuel when towing or carrying heavy loads, Ascent owners can help mitigate the risk of pre-detonation and protect their engine from potential damage. The higher octane rating allows the fuel to burn more efficiently and resist premature ignition, even when subjected to the increased cylinder pressures associated with hauling substantial weight.


Benefits of Occasional Premium Fuel Use

While not required for normal driving, occasionally using premium fuel in your Subaru Ascent can provide some potential benefits. Higher octane gasoline contains added detergents and lubricants that can help keep your engine running cleaner and more efficiently.

If you frequently use lower-quality regular gas from less reputable stations, a tank of premium fuel every few months can help remove built-up deposits and impurities from the fuel system. This can fine-tune performance, prevent pre-detonation (knocking), and potentially improve fuel economy.

Premium gasoline also provides a bit of a safety buffer against knock or pre-ignition when the engine is under higher loads, such as towing or climbing steep grades. While the Ascent is designed to run on regular fuel, the added octane can help prevent abnormal combustion that could damage the engine over time.

It’s important to note that these benefits are relatively minor for most Ascent owners who use top-tier gasoline brands and don’t routinely tow heavy loads. But an occasional premium fill can provide some added protection and potential performance advantages, especially if you’ve been using subpar regular fuel.


Fuel Economy Tips for Subaru Ascent Owners

While the Subaru Ascent doesn’t require premium fuel for most driving situations, there are several steps you can take to maximize your fuel economy and save money at the pump. By adopting efficient driving habits and properly maintaining your vehicle, you can stretch every gallon of regular unleaded gasoline further.


Smooth Acceleration and Braking: Aggressive driving with rapid acceleration and hard braking can significantly reduce your fuel efficiency. Instead, aim for gradual acceleration and braking to minimize wasted energy. This smooth driving style not only saves gas but also reduces wear and tear on your brakes and tires.

Maintain Consistent Speeds: Constantly varying your speed requires more acceleration and braking, which consumes more fuel. When possible, try to maintain a consistent speed, especially on the highway. Use cruise control to help you maintain a steady pace and avoid unnecessary speed fluctuations.

Optimize Cruise Control Usage: While cruise control can help maintain a consistent speed, it’s essential to use it judiciously. On flat terrain or when driving downhill, cruise control can be an excellent fuel-saving tool. However, when climbing hills or carrying heavy loads, it’s often more efficient to temporarily disengage cruise control and manually adjust your speed and gear selection.

Keep Tires Properly Inflated: Underinflated tires create more rolling resistance, forcing your engine to work harder and consume more fuel. Check your tire pressure regularly and keep them inflated to the recommended levels specified in your owner’s manual. For city driving, you may want to slightly overinflate your tires, while for highway driving, the recommended pressure is typically ideal.

Reduce Excess Weight: The more weight your Ascent has to carry, the more fuel it will consume. Remove any unnecessary items from your vehicle to lighten the load and improve fuel efficiency. This is especially important when driving with a full load of passengers and cargo.

Use Accessories Wisely: Accessories like roof racks, bike carriers, and cargo boxes can create additional wind resistance, which decreases fuel economy. Only use these accessories when necessary, and remove them when not in use to reduce drag and improve your gas mileage.

Plan Efficient Routes: Careful route planning can help you avoid unnecessary idling, stop-and-go traffic, and excessive braking and acceleration. Use navigation apps or consult traffic reports to find the most efficient routes and avoid congested areas whenever possible.


By implementing these fuel-saving techniques, you can maximize the fuel efficiency of your Subaru Ascent and save money on regular gasoline costs. Remember, even small changes in your driving habits can add up to significant savings over time.


Debunking Premium Fuel Myths

When it comes to fuel choices for the Subaru Ascent, there are a few persistent myths that need to be addressed. One common misconception is that all Subaru vehicles require premium gasoline. This is simply not true. While Subaru’s high-performance models like the WRX STI do recommend premium fuel for optimal performance, the Ascent and many other non-turbocharged Subaru models are designed to run perfectly well on regular unleaded gasoline.

Another myth is that using premium fuel will significantly increase performance and fuel economy in a non-turbocharged engine like the Ascent’s. While premium gasoline has a higher octane rating, which can help prevent pre-ignition or knocking in high-performance engines under heavy load, it does not provide a substantial boost in power or efficiency for a naturally aspirated engine like the Ascent’s. The engine’s compression ratio and tuning are designed to take advantage of regular unleaded fuel, and using a higher octane fuel will not unlock any hidden performance potential.

It’s important to understand that premium gasoline is not inherently “better” or more powerful than regular unleaded fuel. The difference lies in the octane rating, which is a measure of the fuel’s resistance to pre-ignition or knocking. Higher octane fuels are designed to withstand higher compression ratios and cylinder pressures before igniting, which is important for high-performance, turbocharged, or supercharged engines that generate more heat and pressure. However, for a naturally aspirated engine like the Ascent’s, the regular 87 octane fuel is perfectly adequate and will not cause any issues with pre-ignition or knocking.


Subaru’s Official Stance on Fuel Requirements

Subaru’s official stance on fuel requirements is straightforward: for most of its non-turbocharged models, including the Ascent, regular unleaded gasoline with an octane rating of 87 is perfectly acceptable and recommended for optimal performance and efficiency. This guidance comes directly from Subaru’s owner’s manuals and technical specifications.

The company understands that premium fuel can be a significant added expense for many owners, and they have engineered their naturally aspirated engines to run optimally on the more affordable regular gasoline. By following Subaru’s recommendations, Ascent drivers can enjoy the capable performance and fuel economy their vehicle was designed to deliver without the need for premium fuel in most driving situations.

However, Subaru does advise the use of premium gasoline for certain models and specific driving conditions. For their high-performance turbocharged models like the WRX and WRX STI, premium fuel with an octane rating of 91 or higher is required to prevent engine knock and deliver the expected levels of power and responsiveness. Additionally, when towing heavy loads or operating under extreme conditions, Subaru may recommend premium fuel for non-turbo models like the Ascent to prevent pre-ignition and ensure optimal engine operation.

By providing clear guidance on fuel requirements, Subaru empowers its customers to make informed decisions about the fuel they use, balancing performance needs with cost considerations. This transparency and focus on delivering value to customers is a hallmark of Subaru’s approach to automotive engineering and customer service.


Comparison: Ascent vs. Other Subaru Models

To better understand the Ascent’s fuel requirements, it’s helpful to compare it to other popular Subaru models. The Outback and Forester, for instance, are also designed to run on regular 87 octane gasoline under normal driving conditions.

Like the Ascent, Subaru recommends premium fuel for these vehicles when towing heavy loads or when maximum engine performance is required. However, for daily commuting and typical usage, regular unleaded gas is perfectly suitable.

The story changes when we look at Subaru’s performance-oriented models like the WRX and WRX STI. These turbocharged vehicles are engineered to take advantage of the higher octane ratings found in premium fuel. As such, Subaru requires a minimum of 91 octane gasoline for optimal performance and to prevent engine knocking or damage.

So while the Ascent, Outback, and Forester can get by just fine on regular gas for most driving scenarios, the high-performance WRX lineup demands the added protection and combustion efficiency of premium fuel at all times. This distinction highlights how Subaru tailors its fuel recommendations based on the specific engine design and performance targets of each model.


Cost Savings of Using Regular Fuel

One of the primary advantages of using regular unleaded gasoline in your Subaru Ascent is the substantial cost savings you’ll enjoy over the long run. Premium fuel can cost anywhere from 20 to 40 cents more per liter at the pump, and those extra costs can quickly add up, especially for a vehicle with a large fuel tank like the Ascent.

To illustrate the potential savings, let’s do some quick calculations. The Ascent has a fuel tank capacity of 73.8 liters. Assuming an average fuel efficiency of 10 L/100 km and an annual mileage of 20,000 km, you’ll need to fill up the tank approximately 27 times per year. If the price difference between regular and premium fuel is 25 cents per liter, that translates to an annual savings of $492.50 by using regular unleaded gasoline.

Over the course of five years of ownership, those savings could amount to a staggering $2,462.50 – and that’s a conservative estimate. In some regions with higher fuel prices or a greater price differential between regular and premium grades, the savings could be even more significant.

It’s important to note that these calculations assume normal driving conditions without excessive towing or hauling heavy loads, which is when premium fuel may be recommended for the Ascent. However, for the majority of Ascent owners who primarily use their SUV for daily commuting, running errands, and occasional road trips, sticking with regular unleaded fuel can lead to substantial cost savings over the lifetime of the vehicle.


Ascent Owner Experiences with Fuel Choices

When it comes to real-world experiences, Ascent owners have a range of perspectives on the fuel choices they make for their SUVs. Many owners who primarily use regular 87 octane gasoline report no noticeable issues with performance or engine knocking, even when towing moderate loads or driving in hilly terrain.

On the other hand, some Ascent owners who have tried premium fuel report a slight improvement in responsiveness and smoothness, particularly when accelerating from a stop or passing on the highway. However, these differences are often described as subtle and may not be noticeable to all drivers.

Several Ascent forum members have shared their experiences of using premium fuel occasionally, such as before a long road trip or when towing a heavier load. They report that the added cost of premium is worthwhile for the peace of mind and potential benefits, even if the differences are hard to quantify.

It’s worth noting that fuel quality can vary between different gas stations and regions, which may impact the perceived benefits of premium fuel. Some owners have reported better results with “top-tier” gasoline brands that contain additional detergents and additives.

Ultimately, many Ascent owners seem to take a pragmatic approach – using regular fuel for everyday driving to save money, but opting for premium when towing or seeking maximum performance and efficiency. The choice often comes down to personal preference, driving conditions, and balancing cost versus potential benefits.


Fuel Quality Considerations

While regular 87 octane gasoline is recommended for the Subaru Ascent, it’s important to consider the quality of the fuel you’re using. Not all regular gasoline is created equal, and using lower-quality fuel from unreliable or unbranded stations can potentially have a negative impact on your Ascent’s performance and longevity.

High-quality regular gasoline from reputable stations, such as major national brands, is formulated with better additives and detergents that help keep your engine clean and running smoothly. These additives can help prevent buildup and deposits in the fuel system, which can lead to decreased performance, reduced fuel efficiency, and even potential engine damage over time.

On the other hand, lower-quality regular gasoline from less reputable sources may lack these beneficial additives or have inconsistent octane ratings. This can increase the risk of pre-ignition and engine knock, particularly when the engine is under heavy load or in hot weather conditions.

While it may be tempting to save a few cents per liter by opting for the cheapest regular gasoline available, it’s generally advisable to stick with well-known, reputable brands that adhere to strict quality standards. This can help ensure your Ascent’s engine receives the clean, consistent fuel it needs to operate at its best and maintain optimal performance and efficiency over the long run.


Premium Fuel for Resale Value?

While Subaru recommends regular unleaded gasoline for the Ascent under most circumstances, some owners wonder if using premium fuel occasionally could help maintain resale value by keeping the engine in better condition over time. There are a few factors to consider.

Premium gasoline contains more detergent additives that can help clean fuel injectors and prevent carbon buildup in the engine. Over tens of thousands of miles, this could theoretically result in a slightly cleaner, better-maintained engine. However, the effect is likely minor for most drivers.

Where premium fuel may provide more tangible benefits is for owners who tow heavy loads frequently or drive in extreme conditions that put extra strain on the engine. In these cases, the higher octane rating of premium gas can help prevent pre-ignition and knocking that could lead to accelerated wear.

That said, as long as you follow Subaru’s maintenance schedule and don’t abuse the vehicle, using the recommended regular fuel should have no significant impact on resale value compared to premium. The Ascent’s engine is designed to run properly on 87 octane gas.

If you do opt for premium on occasion, be sure to purchase from a trusted name-brand gas station with high-quality fuel and additives. No-name discount gas could potentially cause more harm than good.


Octane Ratings Explained

To understand why premium fuel is sometimes recommended for the Subaru Ascent, it’s important to grasp the concept of octane ratings. The octane rating is a measure of a fuel’s ability to resist pre-detonation or knocking under high compression and temperature conditions within the engine’s cylinders.

Gasoline with a higher octane rating can withstand greater compression before igniting spontaneously, which is known as pre-detonation or engine knocking. This uncontrolled combustion can cause damage to the engine over time and reduce its overall performance and efficiency.

Regular unleaded gasoline typically has an octane rating of 87, while premium fuel is rated at 91 or higher. The higher the octane rating, the more resistant the fuel is to pre-detonation, making it suitable for engines that operate under higher compression ratios or boost pressures, such as those found in some high-performance vehicles or when towing heavy loads.

It’s worth noting that using a higher octane fuel than recommended for your vehicle will not provide any additional benefits and may even reduce fuel economy. However, using a lower octane fuel than recommended can lead to pre-detonation, which can potentially cause engine damage over time.


Turbo vs. Non-Turbo Engine Requirements

One key factor that often determines an engine’s fuel requirements is whether it’s turbocharged or naturally aspirated. The Subaru Ascent, being a non-turbocharged model, has different fuel needs than the brand’s turbocharged offerings.

Turbocharged engines, like those found in the Subaru WRX and WRX STI, require premium unleaded gasoline with an octane rating of 91 or higher. The turbocharger increases the amount of air forced into the engine, resulting in higher cylinder pressures and temperatures. Premium fuel with a higher octane rating is necessary to prevent pre-ignition or engine knocking under these more intense conditions.

In contrast, the Subaru Ascent features a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder boxer engine that doesn’t employ turbocharging. This engine operates at lower pressures and temperatures, allowing it to run safely and efficiently on regular 87 octane unleaded gasoline. The lack of forced induction means the Ascent’s engine can tolerate the lower octane rating of regular fuel without risking pre-ignition or knocking.

It’s important to note that while premium fuel may provide a slight performance boost in some naturally aspirated engines, it’s generally not required for proper operation. Subaru specifically engineers the Ascent and other non-turbocharged models to deliver optimal performance using regular unleaded gasoline, making premium an unnecessary expense for most drivers.

However, as we’ll explore later, there are certain situations where using premium fuel in the Ascent can be beneficial, such as when towing heavy loads or seeking maximum engine protection. But for everyday driving, sticking to regular 87 octane gasoline is perfectly acceptable and recommended by Subaru for the naturally aspirated Ascent SUV.


Key Takeaways and Final Recommendations

When it comes to fueling your Subaru Ascent, the key takeaways are straightforward. For the vast majority of Ascent owners, regular 87 octane unleaded gasoline is perfectly acceptable and recommended by Subaru for normal driving conditions. This includes your daily commute, running errands, road trips, and even light-duty towing within the vehicle’s rated capacity.

However, there are certain situations where using premium fuel can be beneficial for the Ascent’s performance and longevity. If you frequently tow near or at the maximum rated capacity, premium gasoline can help prevent engine knock and pre-ignition issues that can occur when the engine is under heavy load. The higher octane rating of premium fuel allows for more advanced ignition timing, resulting in smoother operation and potentially better fuel economy when towing.

Additionally, some Ascent owners report slightly improved overall performance and responsiveness when using premium fuel, even without towing. While the benefits may be marginal, the added detergents and lubricants found in premium gasoline can help keep the engine running cleaner and more efficiently over time.

Ultimately, the choice between regular and premium fuel comes down to your specific driving needs and personal preferences. For most Ascent owners, sticking with regular unleaded gasoline will provide perfectly adequate performance while saving money at the pump. But if you frequently tow heavy loads or simply prefer the potential benefits of premium fuel, it’s a perfectly acceptable option for your Subaru Ascent.



The Subaru Ascent is a practical and capable three-row SUV designed to tackle the demands of active Canadian families. With its spacious interior, advanced safety features, and renowned Subaru AWD capabilities, it offers the versatility and peace of mind that modern drivers crave. Importantly, the Ascent achieves this without requiring premium gasoline for most driving scenarios, helping owners save money at the pump.

As outlined throughout this comprehensive guide, Subaru recommends using regular 87 octane unleaded fuel for everyday driving in the Ascent. This provides sufficient performance and efficiency for commuting, hauling kids and gear, and other typical SUV duties. Premium fuel is only advised when towing heavy loads or in other situations that place extreme demands on the engine.

By following Subaru’s fuel recommendations and employing smart driving habits, Ascent owners can maximize their vehicle’s efficiency and overall value. While an occasional tank of premium may provide minor benefits, sticking to regular unleaded for most journeys allows you to take advantage of the Ascent’s family-friendly versatility without overpaying at the gas station.

With its blend of capability, comfort, and reasonable running costs, the Subaru Ascent continues to be a compelling choice for Canadian SUV buyers seeking a well-rounded, three-row hauler. Understanding and adhering to its recommended fuel requirements is just one way to get the most out of your Ascent ownership experience.

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Questions About Subaru Ascent Fuel Requirements

The Subaru Ascent does not require premium gas. Subaru recommends regular 87 octane unleaded gasoline for optimal performance. Premium gas is not necessary. However, some Ascent owners choose to use premium on occasion for the additional detergent additives.

Subaru recommends regular 87 octane unleaded gasoline for the Ascent. Premium fuel is not required. Using a lower octane gas than recommended can cause engine knocking and reduced performance.

While not required, occasional use of 91+ octane premium fuel can provide some benefits due to extra detergent additives. This can help clean fuel injectors and intake valves. However, consistent use of premium gasoline will only provide minimal gains for the extra cost.

Subaru specifically recommends regular 87 octane unleaded gasoline for optimal Ascent performance in Canada. Premium 91+ octane fuel is not necessary or required.

No, Subaru states that regular 87 octane fuel is suitable even when towing heavy loads with the Ascent. Premium gasoline will not provide noticeably better performance or power when towing. Save your money and fill up with regular unleaded.

No. Subaru confirms that using regular 87 octane fuel, as recommended, will not void any warranties on the Ascent even in Canada. However, sustained use of lower octane gasoline can cause engine damage over time.

Premium gasoline can help clean fuel injectors, intake valves, and combustion chambers due to extra detergent additives. However, Subaru states these benefits are minimal and not worth the extra cost in most cases.

It’s not necessary. While some choose premium for long highway drives due to added cleaning detergents, regular 87 octane gasoline will provide reliable performance. Save your money and stick with regular unless preferred.

In Canada, the Ascent is rated for 24 mpg highway with regular gasoline. Opting for premium fuel will provide almost no noticeable difference in gas mileage or fuel economy. Expect the same mpgs with either.

No. Subaru’s tuning and engine management is optimized for regular octane gasoline in the Ascent. Switching to premium fuel will not provide any horsepower, torque, or performance gains. Save your money.

No, premium fuel will provide no real benefits or advantages over regular gasoline in cold winter driving conditions in your Canadian Ascent. Stick with regular unleaded all year round.

Most all gas stations across Canada carry regular 87 octane gasoline recommended for optimal Ascent performance. This includes Petro-Canada, Esso, Shell, Husky, Ultramar, Pioneer, Fas Gas and more.

The recommended fuel octane rating for optimal Ascent performance is listed in the maintenance and specifications section of your owner’s manual. For Canadian models it states 87 octane gasoline is required, not premium.

No. Premium gasoline will not improve fuel efficiency or gas mileage in the Ascent. Subaru’s fuel mapping and engine tuning is designed for regular octane gas. Expect the same 24 mpg highway with either.

No. Subaru properly calibrates the engine management systems on Canadian Ascents to prevent pre-ignition knock with regular gasoline. Paying more for premium fuel will not change this or provide added protection.

The main difference is the octane rating. Regular gasoline has an octane rating of 87, while premium has an octane rating of 91-93. The higher octane helps prevent pre-ignition issues in high compression engines. The Ascent runs fine on regular.

In most cases, no. Subaru states that continued use of the recommended regular 87 octane gasoline will provide reliable engine longevity without reduced lifespan. Premium fuel is unlikely to improve this noticeably.

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