There is a difference. It's not in your head (although I'm sure someone will chime in and say it is.) I use cheap stuff for general cleaning. When I need spotlessly clean (such as preparing a surface for a gasket or sealant that keeps a fluid in), I use the deep cleaning stuff.
It’s ironic that chlorinated is bad for you and the environment but it is not flammable. Honestly, if you want to use chlorinated, wear a cartridge type respirator. I find the CRC non chlorinated works well enough for me. ( but it is flammable.)
I don't see chlorinated brake/parts cleaner in stores anymore. There is now the low or no VOC stuff (guy at O'Reilly calls it the "California stuff") or 10% (??) VOC. I think that may be the green vs red cans in CRC brand. I typically just buy Supertech anymore since it's so inexpensive and works fine for what I use it for.
I use the chlorinated CRC stuff. I've tried the other flammable brake cleaner and they didn't work. Both contain toxic chemicals just wear the proper PPE and use it sparingly. Yes the chlorinated stuff can decompse to phosgene if heated to a high temp, but the flammable stuff fumes are heavier than air and can travel to and ignition source. The CRC red is getting harder to find, locally so I may end up buying a gallon on amazon.
I used to swear by CRC red can until they changed the formula some years back. Never liked the green can. We were using 3m 08180 until we lost our source for it locally. I liked that. Recently we were using starfire tec a brake which worked well. Now we have Wynns due to a vendor change. No opinion on that yet. Never liked Advance or Autozone brake clean
I use anything that is not labeled low/no VOC. I try to avoid stuff with methylene chloride in it as it can convert to poisonous gas in the presence of heat. I'll use either if I don't have a choice, but to be honest, I can't really tell the difference chlorinated vs non, as long as the product in question is solvent based and not low VOC.