2014 Toyota Highlander: More Fuel Range Than You Think
November 20, 2014
Last week I drove our long-term 2014 Toyota Highlander out to La Quinta, California to visit my parental units. La Quinta is about 150 miles due east of my home base, all of which is covered on Interstate 10, a major roadway.
When the trip was complete, imagine my surprise when, despite averaging 22.1 mpg over the 306.7 miles, the Highlander was in need of a refill.
So I poked my nose in the Highlander's logbook and sure enough, this thing is consistently light on range. After 12,000 miles we've squeezed more than 350 miles of driving out of only six tanks of 87-octane fuel. And only three with more than 375 miles.
So I looked deeper, expecting to find that it's our heavy Burt Reynolds driving style that's causing this. But it isn't.
The EPA rates our FWD Highlander at 21 mpg combined. And we're averaging 19.9 mpg after eight months of ownership. So we're not that far off.
I looked a little deeper. Expecting to find a small fuel tank within the Highlander's specs. Nope. 19.2 gallons.
So I poked around further. Our Highlander has never taken more than 16.445 gallons at any one gas stop. And after my little road trip it took only 13.9 gallons.
Basically, we have more gas left and more range than we think we do. A lot more. And we're not alone. Highlander owners are all over car boards and forums complaining about the same thing.
I then opened the owner's manual and sure enough, there it is on page 565: Low fuel level warning light indicates that remaining fuel is approximately 2.9 gal..."
Basically Toyota has taken an ultraconservative approach to reporting the Highlander's Distance to Empty. So much so, it essentially dupes owners into buying gas unnecessarily early. If a Highlander is driven 20,000 miles per year at the published combined mpg of 21 mpg, and you did complete fills when the tank was well and truly empty, you'd buy 49.6 fills per year. However, if you did complete fills when the "low fuel" indicator says you needed to refuel, it would require 58.4 fills per year.
That's an additional 8.8 fills per year. Not quite an extra fill every month, but close.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 12,445 miles