BySteph Willemson December 23, 2019
Buyers of the revamped-for-2019Toyota RAV4 Hybridseem pleased with their vehicle’s upgraded fuel economy, but ask them about range, and you’re liable to get an earful.
In an unusual development not often associated with non-EVs, RAV4 Hybrid owners have begun complaining about lackluster driving distanceÂ â€” an issue that stems from the model’s redesigned gas tank.
The issue is simple. Apparently, the RAV4 Hybrid gets full too early. Owners have complained to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that their vehicles can’t accept a full tank, with some reviewers making a similar discovery.
Automotive Newsshed light on the issue, referencing the tank design’s transition from a longitudinal vessel to a lateral, side-saddle layout, which shouldn’t necessarily lead to fueling confusion. Volume is 14.5 gallons, though many owners say they can’t get that much in there. Not only that, but the vehicle’s fuel gauge can prove misleading, often registering a level too high.
None other than John Davis ofMotorWeekhas called out the problem. In an email toAN, Davis said, “On highway trips, when the gas gauge reads between 1/8-1/4, it will take about 9-9.5 gallons max in a fill-up. At that point the gas gauge reads nearly full, but just barely.”
Complaints filed to the NHTSA all claim that the RAV4 Hybrid’s fuel tank comes up roughly 5 gallons short during the refueling process.
While the problem is annoying, it’s more of an inconvenience than anything else. The low fuel warning light will still come on when the fuel level nears the bottom, and owners won’t be caught off-guard by a vehicle running low; the problem is simply that owners can’t achieve the bladder-busting 500-plus-mile range touted in Toyota ads.
For its part, the manufacturer is aware of the problem. In response toAN‘s questions, Toyota said it is “investigating a fuel tank shape issue on certain RAV4 Hybrid vehicles.”
“In these cases, variations in fuel tank shape may prevent a full refill by up to several gallons,” the automaker stated. “This condition may impact the vehicle’s total available driving distance. As a best practice, customers should refuel before or when the low fuel light illuminates, to prevent running out of fuel.”
As youread here last week, the RAV4 Hybrid has catapulted to the top of the Toyota hybrid food chain, easily outselling the once-dominant Prius. For 2019, the hybrid crossover earns a 40 mpg combined rating from the EPA.
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