Toyota continues to investigate an issue that can prevent drivers of its top-selling U.S. hybrid, the 2019-2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, from filling their tank up completely.

The issue, which was first reported by Automotive News back in December, was identified by a wide range of complaints from various sources—including several logged at NHTSA’s vehicle safety site—alleging that even though the fuel-tank capacity is listed at 14.5 gallons the tank won’t accept more than 9 or 10 gallons. 

One owner, for instance, reported that while they might be able to add fuel very slowly beyond that point, to avoid the environmental risks of “topping off” they don’t have access to about 200 miles of the vehicle’s 580-mile rated range.  

All evidence so far—including what Toyota has volunteered—points to an issue potentially related to the shape of the tank, which went to a different, longitudinal saddle design with the RAV4 Hybrid’s 2019 redesign, when it made major efficiency gains to an EPA combined 40 mpg.

Toyota acknowledged that it has received reports applying to 2019 and 2020 RAV4 Hybrid vehicles with “fuel gauges displaying less than full and/or total fuel dispensed is less than expected, when the fuel nozzle automatically clicks off.”

The automaker also confirmed that customer reports have noted a “Distance to Empty” as shown on the multi-information display, that’s less than expected. In the meantime, Toyota underscored that the issue doesn’t appear to have any impact on the fuel gauge or low-fuel light.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid - Best Car To Buy 2020

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid - Best Car To Buy 2020

“Based on our ongoing investigation, Toyota believes these conditions to be primarily related to a variation in the fuel tank shape,” said Toyota, in a statement provided to Green Car Reports. “As indicated in the owner's manual, customers should still refuel when the low fuel light illuminates, and when refueling, customers should not ‘top off’ the fuel tank.”

Toyota also stated: “While we investigate this issue, Toyota has an interim option available until a final remedy is identified. We recommend customers who have a concern visit a Toyota dealer. Toyota’s Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331 is also available to answer questions.”

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Until it decides on a final remedy, it’s offering an interim option of installing a replacement fuel tank. But it warns that “replacing the fuel tank may mitigate these concerns, although it may not prevent the condition from reocurring.”

We certainly wouldn’t let this keep us from getting a RAV4 Hybrid. Although we’ve applied plug-in requirements to our annual Best Car to Buy award, the RAV4 Hybrid won the next best thing: our nod as the best hybrid for the U.S. market

In other words, please stay tuned.