The single biggest reason this doesn't apply to the Cruze......the FTC article's date is 2003.
They make it so the engine can run on 87 so cheap skates won't whine about having to spend more on gas. It is an economy car after all.
2012 Cruze RS-T 6M
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I really think if you aren't tuned you will be fine with 87 Octane. I never had any issue with it and tried 4 tanks regular vs. 4 tanks premium (91) before tuned. There was no noticeable change in fuel economy, but a difference in throttle smoothness when pushed. Pretty much every turbo car on the market now is certified to run on 87 Octane gas and their power ratings on 87 are either listed as just slightly below their premium fuel ratings.
Looking at the engine specs of the new ford Fusion ecoboost engines they actually list two different horsepower numbers for each engine. One with premium & one without. The 1.6T in the fusion makes 5HP more with premium, the 2.0T makes 9HP more with premium.
Obviously with a turbo to run 87octane the computer has to detune the engine, nice to see some manufactures actually show this on paper.
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I'm not saying this is the same case with the cruze, though my well calibrated butt dyno says it is.
Keep in mind that certified power ratings are in ideal conditions. If you live pretty much anywhere in the united states except for right along the coast, you are guaranteed to be outside those ideal conditions 4-6 months out of the year.
Another person here to verify throttle surging on 87, vs nothing of the sort on Shell 89. We bought the car after temps had already dropped below the need for AC so I haven't felt the need to test anything higher octane wise. Also, when running on 87 octane and surging occurs due to timing retard, it seems to screw up the transmission behavior a bit for me as well. Like the car is confused on what gear to grab or hold onto based on throttle position because the power output the transmission has been programmed to receive for a given RPM is slightly altered maybe? I'm not well versed on transmission tuning but my gut assumption would be that they are tuned based on speed, rpm, grade and throttle position with a predetermined power output for a given throttle position.
I did verify from Tom that the horsepower ratings for the Chevy Cruze are taken with 87 octane. This might explain why some people have put down around the same or more than the rated torque on the dyno with their Cruze on 91/93 octane.
Since we know the car does pull timing with 87 octane, we can safely assume that the 1.4L Turbo produces more power than 138hp/148lb-ft on 91/93 octane. I'd put the numbers closer to 142-145hp and 155-160lb-ft on higher octane fuel.