Archive for August, 2007

The Luxury SUV Premium Addiction.

I have been casually looking at SUVs now off and on for a few months….well make that a few years.  I’ve had my favorite model change from time to time, but the one thing that has remained consistent is my stance on premium fuel.
 
See, I can tolerate premium fuel on a vehicle that gets 28+ MPG (as my current car does)  However, buying an SUV that gets in the high teens (if lucky) AND burns premium fuel is just unacceptable.  I guess that is why I sit here today without a new SUV.
 
but hereinlies the problem.  Out of all of the "premium" or "luxury" SUV makers, NONE of them run on regular.  I could see the reasoning for this if the performance of these vehicles far outstripped their regular sipping bretheren but that is not the case.
 
Let’s take the Ford Edge for a moment.  This is a 3.5L V6 that cranks out  265hp….on regular gas.  Then we take the Nissan Murano.  Same displacement, but it only manages 240 on PREMIUM gas.  Now, I don’t really consider the Murano a premium SUV, so let’s look at its Infiniti cousin, the FX35.  The FX35 only manages 270 while running on Premium.  So $.20 a gal more is getting me 5 extra horsepower?  Sounds like a bad deal to me.
 
Of course, people will say "well if you can afford an FX35 you can afford the premium gas".  There is nothing wrong with that statement, but the question I have in return is "why should I?"  I mean obviously if Ford can do it in a non "premium" SUV, then Nissan could pull off a few engineering tricks and do it in the FX.  I’ve been to these dealers before and asked them if these various premium SUVs have a knock sensor to allow me to use regular gas.  "Nope, sorry, premium only or it will void your warranty"
 
So let me get this straight, I’m paying top dollar for a premium SUV and it doesn’t even come with a sensor to retard the timing and let me burn regular?
 
I think this gets even more silly when we turn our sights to Land Rover.
 
What picture comes to mind when you think of Land Rover?  Is it maybe an aerial show of an LR running across an African plain in pursuit of big game?  Is it maybe a picture of one plodding across the arctic tundra?  I bet it isn’t a picture of one navigating the rugged urban landscape on safari for premium gas stations….which is what you’ll need if you own an LR2 or LR3.  Sadly the LR2 is not using the same engine as its Edge cousin and only manages 230hp out of a 3.2 engine….again running on premium (the LR3 needs premium to eek out 216hp of a lazy 4.0l V6).
 
Now before we go any further I need to let you know how I get my info.  I get it from the manufacturer websites and fueleconomy.gov.  Oddly though for Land Rover, though fueleconomy.gov says they take regular, the Land Rover webste clearly states that they take regular.  Methinks they reported fuel type as regular to the gov to score higher on the gas costs ranking, but list premium required on their website for the horsepower advertised.  And if you ask a dealer directly they will tell you it only takes premium.
 
On the rest of my short list of SUVs it doesn’t get any better.  The XC90 shares the same V6 as the LR2…manages even less hp and runs on premium.
 
But here is where I think the premium SUV makers are telling a lie.  The Ford Edge has a higher compression ratio than the LR2.  Typically the higher the compression ratio, the more likely premium fuel is required.  This is why turbo’d applications are almost always premium only.
 
So I end here asking WHY are the premium SUV makers demanding premium only in these vehicles when there is ample evidence it is not needed?