Cars could be more efficient if 95 octane is the new 'regular'

The Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Transportation and Air Quality is starting to think that raising the octane level that's considered to be regular gas could go a long way toward making modern, downsized engines even more efficient. 95-octane gas could be possible, but the investigation into the issue is still getting underway. It could be many years before any changes actually happen, if they ever come at all.

Christopher Grundler, the office's director, discussed the idea to Automotive News. With a higher octane rating, fuel becomes less likely to pre-ignite and can withstand higher compression ratios. Such a change would theoretically allow small displacement engines to eke out even more horsepower, assuming they are engineered to take advantage of the higher-octane gasoline.

According to Grundler, any changes to standard octane levels would first require significant research. The government would need to know that the higher cost of better fuel is actually a worthwhile investment, Automotive News reports. In much of the US, regular gasoline is currently 87 octane, although it varies by region. Many modern, turbocharged engines already need at least 93 octane. For example, putting in premium allows the Ford Mustang with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder to produce its stated 310 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. The pony car can also run on regular in a pinch but peak power drops off.

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