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Crossposted from Highlander 4th Generation (2020+) forum

Have any other 2020 Highlander Hybrid (AWD) owners having issues with filling the fuel tank all the way or the DTE display showing much less than it should?

When I took delivery of my 2020 Highlander Hybrid last month I was concerned that the "Distance to Empty" display read only 420 miles. I asked the salesman if this was right and she confirmed that the fuel capacity of the vehicle was 17.1 gallons and the MPG is rated at 35 so the range should be about 600 miles. Then she said that it might take a while for the computer to reset and show the correct DTE.

I've only driven the vehicle 725 miles since I got it due to Covid-19 restrictions, and while it's averaging 35.6 miles per gallon (mostly ECO mode), the vehicle only shows about 420 miles DTE when refueled. This week I specifically waited for the low fuel light to go on and drove a few miles past just for good measure. I went to the gas station and only could pump 12 gallons before the pump shut off. I tried topping off the tank and eeked 12.5 gallons into the tank and showed DTE of 445 miles – far less than the 609 miles I expected.

I took the vehicle back to the dealership and explained the problem. They checked for error codes, software updates, recalls and TSBs and found nothing. They noted that that were no issues. I called Toyota corporate and was told the same thing - no issues reported.

I did some research (“Google”) and found that 2019/2020 RAV4 Hybrids with the same new “saddle” tank design are having the same problem I’m experiencing. Apparently, the new tank design is required to accommodate the hybrid drivetrain and won’t fill all the way. RAV4 owners can fill about 9 to 10 gallons of the 14.5 gallon tank – pretty consistent with what I’m getting with 12 gallons of the 17 gallon tank capacity.

I’m pretty sure there’s a design defect in the Highlander Hybrid fuel tank preventing the last five gallons of gas being pumped thus cheating me out of 180 miles of range.

While Toyota has acknowledged an issue with the RAV4 and are working on a fix, they haven’t acknowledged a problem with the Highlander yet. I guess I might have to join the RAV4 class action lawsuit in order to get satisfaction?

Toyota Faces Class Action Lawsuit for Faulty RAV4 Hybrid Fuel Tanks
Toyota offers interim fix for Rav4 Hybrid gas tank concerns

Thoughts?
 

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Well I ran the DTE to zero. The gauge read a bit more than E. The computer showed 37.3 mpg for the tank. The tank held 13.33 gallons to the first pump shutoff. I should have checked the gauge at this point but didn't. But anyone can do that at any time. It held 17.567 gallons when it couldn't hold any more. Then it read 475 miles to empty and the gauge showed above full. My biggest problem with this is the gauge not reading empty when it obviously is empty. That, or it holds about 19 gallons, in which case the DTE is far too conservative
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Well I ran the DTE to zero. The gauge read a bit more than E. The computer showed 37.3 mpg for the tank. The tank held 13.33 gallons to the first pump shutoff. I should have checked the gauge at this point but didn't. But anyone can do that at any time. It held 17.567 gallons when it couldn't hold any more. Then it read 475 miles to empty and the gauge showed above full. My biggest problem with this is the gauge not reading empty when it obviously is empty. That, or it holds about 19 gallons, in which case the DTE is far too conservative
I don't believe your tank was empty. I think Toyota gives a lot of leeway when DTE reads zero - I would think about 2 gallons - that's why your needle wasn't on E. You didn't say what the DTE reading was when your low fuel light came on but when it did you still had 2.6 gallons left in the tank according to the OM. While I didn't keep going to zero miles for DTE when my low fuel light came on the DTE was at 24 miles and there's no way I would have used 2.6 gallons to get down to zero - so I figure there would have been about two gallons left if I did. What I can't figure out is how you got 17.567 gallons in a 17.1 gallon tank that probably still had two gallons in it when you started.

BTW - immediately after low fuel light came on I pumped in 13 gallons when pump clicked off and my needle was above full and DTE was 489 but I was averaging 43.2 mpg before refill.
 

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I had 24 or 25 miles DTE at low fuel light. At least 24. I drove seemingly all day to get from 15 miles DTE to zero. Those last two miles alone in the vicinity of Sam's Club must have taken 30 minutes. Couldn't get it to use gas. Darn hybrids! Lol! By the way, when my Prius and ESh read zero, the gauge reads very empty!
 

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These guys decided to run their RAV4 Hybrid out of gas to see what happened. It wasn’t pretty. The engine shuts off, alarms go off, and they got about a half-mile before the battery ran down. After putting in a gallon of gas, the engine was making some nasty noises as it tried to start up. Then it quit completely and would not restart. They had to use a ODB2 scan tool to reset the codes to get it started.

There is something like 5 gallons in the tank when it reads empty and the fuel tank capacity was to spec at 14.6 after topping off even though it seems to never get past 11 gallons in during normal fill-ups.


 

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These guys decided to run their RAV4 Hybrid out of gas to see what happened. It wasn’t pretty. The engine shuts off, alarms go off, and they got about a half-mile before the battery ran down. After putting in a gallon of gas, the engine was making some nasty noises as it tried to start up. Then it quit completely and would not restart. They had to use a ODB2 scan tool to reset the codes to get it started.
Here's the HH OM directions when running out of fuel - seems you need to use at least 3 gallons in order to restart - just a gallon won't do it - probably the same for the RAV4.

run out of gas.jpg
 

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Interesting. It implies that the low fuel level warning goes on with at least 3 gallons in the tank - probably more. The actual range would still be 600 miles as long as you only turn it off to refuel it during that last 100 miles or so.
 

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To me, it looks like the only real problem is the DTE readout, and that may have been designed that way to prevent the situation shown in the video, in which case Toyota should issue a statement instead of giving out lemon law refunds. There is nothing wrong with the range, and probably nothing wrong with the fuel gauge. There is nothing wrong with the stated capacity of the tank, unless it is to the low side. The Highlander will probably hold 19.5 gallons from bare empty to chock full.
 

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Reserve was meant to keep the dumb a$$ from running on E for another 100+ miles. Oh well...so much for the class action lawsuit.
 

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Vehicle: 2020 Highlander hybrid model LE AWD
I just filled up at Costco, no self service in Oregon, same pump and location as last time. Both times when the pumped shut off on the low speed setting the attendant took out the nozzle. The gauge read above the full mark both times. I had 191 miles and used 4.251 gallons of reg. 87 octane (10% ethanol) for 44.93 MPG.

When filled up today the fuel tank gauge was exactly at 3/4 of a tank, so 4 X 4.251 gallons = 17.004 gallons which probably does no include reserve.
 

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I posted this on the fuel tank thread on the regular 2020 Highlander board, but it probably belonged here:
I just bought a Highlander Hybrid Plantinum. Salesman said he filled it all the way up without an early cutoff. He couldn’t explain why DTE was in mid-to-low 400 range but told me to top off with slow fill if it didn’t take a full amount when I filled up.

Drove a mix of city, county road, and highway miles and ran it until the empty light came on, then I filled it up today:

Low fuel light came on at 400 miles. Went to closest gas station (402.4 miles on odometer) and filled to cutoff (shallow insert into tank made no difference). It only took 14.07 gallons.

I then let it rest for about 30 seconds and slow filled (many cutoffs) until it had taken 17.156 gallons. Not sure if I could fit more. I thought the tank was supposed to be 17.1 so I stopped. Clearly that tank is bigger than 17.1 because I went to the gas station as soon as the fuel light lit up, I didn’t run it dry. At this point the gas meter showed full and DTE showed 432 miles.

I’m annoyed the tank won’t take a normal fill before shutting off. I was expecting nearly 50% more range (getting closer to 400 than 600 unless there is a huge reserve once the low fuel light comes on....which is unlikely if I was able to put over 17 gallons in).
I basically got the equivalent of 30 mpg for 14 gallons. Granted it was 90 degrees for part of the drive and the air conditioning was working. Overall mpg is going up steadily, it stated 20 mpg with an odometer at 26 miles on it before today’s trip, 30 mpg when I filled up, and was about 30.5 mpg shortly afterwardat the end of the day.

I’ll be putting another 800 miles on in the next two days. Hopefully tomorrow’s fill will provide additional info. I’d really like to know what’s left in the tank when the fuel light comes on, how the DTE is calculated, and what a comfortable range really is.

I guess the cliche “your mileage may vary” applies!

It’s a joy to drive. I’m still figuring out bells and whistles but it’s comfortable and has come a long way from the 2008 gas Highlander I’ve been driving for 12 years. But the fuel tank capacity and range shouldn’t be a mystery.

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I didn’t pay close attention to what the fuel gage and the DTE said when the warning light came on. I’ll try to track that tomorrow. Today’s experience supports the theory stated earlier in this thread that the tank might be 19+ gallons and that there is at least 2-1/2 gallons in the tank when the fuel light comes on.
 

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Here in Oregon where I live and get my gas, Costco, it is strictly prohibited to pump your own gas in your car, only people with motorcycles are allowed. If I had the chance I would attempt to top it off after the pump clicks off on the low setting. I'm sure I could squeeze another 2 gallons or maybe more into it. At 35 MPG (EPA rating for AWD) with 15 gallons of gas you should get a comfortable 525 miles on a tank with 2 gallons still left.
 

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Interesting day. I’m happy to say my Highlander is now getting the advertised mpg and distance. I think the computer was basing yesterday on the first few miles of its life, when it was just driven around factory and dealership getting prepped. And it didn’t realize how thrifty it would be in regular usage so screwed the mpg and DTE data.

As mentioned above, when I topped off the tank with over 17 gallons of gas yesterday, it said my DTE on the full tank was 432 miles. I was not happy.

Well I drove 400 miles today on 1/2 a tank! And at that point DTE said it would go another 184 miles.

At 500 miles, I had between 1/3 and 1/2 of a tank and DTE said 110 miles

At 550 miles it was down to 1/4 of a tank with 66 DTE

At the end of today’s drive it shows 568 driven since last fill. 53 DTE. Total mpg 35.7.

I will fill up tomorrow at something over 600 miles driven. Happy to say it is performing as advertised.

Only concerns at this point is the tank cutoff at 14 gallons. Owner’s manual says not to top off. Salesman told me to top off. I was able to put three more gallons in after cutoff. But then I am able to get advertised distances.

The 12” display totally froze up this afternoon. I wasn’t able to get any response until my next stop. When I turned the whole car off and on the screen rebuted. Luckily my passenger was able to navigate for me via cellphone map as I was in the middle of crazy traffic. This is not a happy problem on a $50k car I drove off the lot two days ago....
 

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Posted this in the similar thread in the Gen 4 Highlander gas forum.

I noticed when I did a partial fill up at a local Shell station that my Highlander was leaning a bit to the right and seemed to take more fuel than I expected. So I ran the tank down to the low fuel light and refilled at the same pump and was able to do just about 13.6 gallons before the pump clicked off. With the 2.6 gallons still in the tank when the low fuel light comes on plus the 13.6 added gives 16.2 gallons total which would be normal according to Toyota. This also gave me 535 DTE which would be just about right for the 13.6 gallons at my previous average of 40 mpg if the calculation is based on when the low fuel light will come on again and not to when the tank is totally empty.

Bottom line - at least for me - is that the tank will fill better if tilted to the right probably better eliminating air pockets in the tank. The problem is that almost all station have a perfectly level area next to the pump - this is a rare exception. Last fill up I did from low fuel light to first click at a level gas pump stopped at 13 gallons so .6 gallons more when tilted to the right.

EDIT- Somehow I confused my right from my left so I corrected above.

shell_01 copy.jpg
 

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Lloyd, when you filled up did you see standing gasoline at the filler neck cap? I know with our old, now sold 2010 Prius, I have put in nearly 2 gallons after the pump had shut off to the standing gas at the filler neck.
 

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Only concerns at this point is the tank cutoff at 14 gallons. Owner’s manual says not to top off. Salesman told me to top off. I was able to put three more gallons in after cutoff. But then I am able to get advertised distances.
How difficult was for you to put 3 more gallons after first cutoff? Very good information you provided. I had only fill up once and it was right after the warning light goes off.
 
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