Uh Oh-Some Toyota RAV4s Won’t Take Full Tank Of Gas

What’s going on with the 2019 RAV4 hybrid not being able to take a full tank of gas? Owners are starting to complain en masse that they are having problems putting a full tank of gas into their 2019 RAV4 hybrids. It’s a 14.5- gallon tank, but owners report only being able to squeak 11 gallons into them. It’s not a “sometimes” problem, it’s all of the time. “So what,” you might say?

The problem this causes is that the fuel economy ratings give the 2019 RAV4 hybrid 580 miles of range. Obviously, being short three-plus gallons cuts the range down by 140 miles-give or take a few. Those that purchase a hybrid want the best gas mileage and range they can get for the money. 

A veteran automotive writer and weekly PBS show have the same problem

2020 Toyota RAV4 | Toyota
2020 Toyota RAV4 | Toyota

Even John O’Dell, the veteran former automotive news writer for the LA Times has experienced the problem with his new 2019 RAV4. He told Automotive News, “I’ve never ever been able to put anywhere near 14 gallons of gas in it, even when the [warning] light is on.” So, what’s going on?

Motorweek shown on PBS has experienced the same problem. Host John Davis along with staff members are having the same problem with a RAV4 they are reporting a long-term test on. So, the problem is inclusive to all. 

Toyota gave a statement to Automotive News that says it is aware of the problem and “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. 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.”

Toyota’s official statement states the obvious

2020 Toyota RAV4 | Toyota
2020 Toyota RAV4 | Toyota

Not to crank on Toyota but if the owners are aware of the issue we’re pretty sure they have experimented with filling the tank to see if different situations yield different results. Suggesting owners “refuel when the low fuel light illuminates to prevent running out of fuel” is like saying if you drink a bottle of vodka you’ll be drunk. Yeah, no kidding. 

For 2019 Toyota changed the shape of the RAV4 hybrid’s tank, so this is affecting only 2019 models. Customers on forums say they like the crossover, they just wish they could get the range they purchased the vehicle for. 

The RAV4 Hybrid is Toyota’s best-selling hybrid in the US. Of the 406,789 RAV4 hybrids sold worldwide, 20% are sold here. Through November sales are up 84% over last year. 

Owners wish they could get what Toyota advertises they should get

A silver Toyota RAV4 on display at an auto show.
Toyota RAV4 | Michael Noble Jr./Bloomberg via Getty Images

O’Dell says he’s still getting 34 mpg in spite of living in a mountainous area. But he wishes he could get what Toyota advertises the RAV4 range should be, which is 500-plus miles. 

We’re sure that since this is an across-the-board issue Toyota will find a fix and compensate those who have experienced the issue. It would be interesting to find out if Toyota actually tested the new gas tank configuration or just made it a running change and continued manufacturing RAV4s?