Drivers of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid have an unusual issue: They’re only able to access part of their gas tank’s reported fuel-tank capacity—and thus they can’t take advantage of the 40-mpg Hybrid’s excellent 580-mile rated range.
Toyota confirmed to Green Car Reports Wednesday that while the issue doesn't fall under the parameters of a recall, it's started a Customer Support Program to provide coverage for “Fuel Tank and Fuel Sender Gauge Unit” on certain 2019-2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid models that will resolve the problem.
Complaints filed to NHTSA by owners starting last year reported a common thread: they were only able to put 9 or 10 gallons into the gas tank when the fuel gauge was indicating empty. The tank is supposed to have a 14.5-gallon capacity.
In some cases, owners have been able to recover some of that lost capacity through very slow “topping off” after filling the tank most of the way—a practice neither we nor Toyota recommend.
We also wouldn’t recommend what one curious GCR reader recently did: drive for 120 miles after his range meter claimed zero miles remaining, still not running out of gas.
2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid - Best Car To Buy 2020
Echoing previous language, Toyota confirmed that the issue is “primarily related to a variation in the shape of the fuel tank and the position of the fuel sender gauge.” In 2019, the RAV4 Hybrid adopted a different, longitudinal saddle design.
The automaker noted that it’s “currently developing a remedy for this condition." In the meantime, Toyota says to follow the owner's manual and that “customers should still refuel when the low fuel light illuminates.”
The problem is widespread enough—or, should we say, annoying enough—that it’s prompted more than a few readers with RAV4 Hybrids to get in touch about the issue. When the fix is out there we plan to follow up with a few owners of the affected vehicles to see if it taps into the full capability of the vehicle.
On the other hand, there are a lot of vehicles out there. The RAV4 Hybrid was Toyota's top-selling hybrid model in 2019—beating the Prius. And we think the RAV4 Hybrid is worth all the attention.
Owner notification began in late May, but Toyota will notify owners again when the remedy becomes available. Owners should check in with their dealer for more information, or call Toyota at 800-331-4331.