Bad Gas Mileage on Your Toyota RAV4? (Here’s Why)

The Toyota RAV4 is known for getting decent fuel economy, so it can come as a shock when it starts using more fuel than expected. If you keep track of MPG, you might wonder why you are suddenly dealing with bad gas mileage on your RAV4.

While it’s possible there’s something wrong, the drop in fuel economy could also be due to driving habits. That’s why I cover all of the reasons you may experience bad gas mileage on your Toyota RAV4. I’ll also help you find ways to improve the distance you drive per tank.

pumping gas

What to Expect

The 2024 RAV4 is one of Toyota’s most efficient vehicles.

Here’s a brief overview of the mileage the 2023 RAV4 is rated for.

  • 2024 Toyota RAV4 Prime AWD: 40/35* mpg
  • 2024 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid AWD: 41/38* mpg
  • 2024 Toyota RAV4 FWD: 27/35* mpg
  • 2024 Toyota RAV4 AWD: 25/33* mpg


Toyota RAV4 models through 2019 achieve similar fuel economy ratings. Before that model year, fuel efficiency ratings drop slightly. To research what your RAV4  should achieve, read our Toyota RAV4 mpg list.

Once you know what to expect from the RAV4, it’s much easier to tell when there’s a problem.

Real-World Factors

The fuel economy ratings for today’s cars are determined by the U.S. Department of Energy. Unfortunately, these ratings may not necessarily reflect real-world driving.

There are many different real-world scenarios that could affect gas mileage, therefore your actual MPG could be significantly higher or lower than the government ratings.

As an example, my RAV4 features a city rating of 27 mpg. However, it tends to get an average of 23 mpg, which is slightly lower. This is because I frequently take short trips with lots of traffic lights and steep hills.

You should also know that the opposite is true of the RAV4 Hybrid. It actually performs quite well in stop-and-go situations. Consider checking out our post about real-world RAV4 Hybrid gas mileage.

Here are several other factors that affect your real-world mpg rating:

  • Aggressive acceleration and braking
  • Frequent stop-and-go driving
  • Hilly terrain
  • Air conditioner usage
  • Excessive idling
  • Driving at high speeds and aerodynamic drag
  • Cold weather
  • Cargo racks on the roof
  • Towing


If you recognize some of these factors in your daily driving routine, you can expect a drop in fuel economy.

Vehicle Problems That Could Impact Gas Mileage

In some cases, a mechanical issue can lead to poor fuel economy. If the drop is sudden and your driving habits have not changed, it may be a mechanical issue, such as:

  • Bad fuel pump
  • Failing fuel injectors
  • Low tire pressure
  • Corroded spark plugs
  • Malfunctioning oxygen sensors
  • Contaminated engine air filter
  • Worn-out piston rings
  • Old motor oil and filter
  • Dirty mass airflow sensor
  • Poor wheel alignment


Many of these problems can be prevented by following your recommended RAV4 maintenance schedule. However, there’s still a chance of mechanical failure even if you are meticulous with your RAV4 care.

The only way to know for sure if a mechanical issue is causing the problem is to have the RAV4 inspected. If you aren’t mechanically inclined, take it to a trusted technician.

How to Improve MPG

There are plenty of ways to improve the gas mileage in your Toyota RAV4, even if you are below EPA estimates. Consider these valuable options.

  • Use Eco mode
  • Remove unnecessary weight from the vehicle
  • Avoid aggressive acceleration and braking
  • Slow down on the highway to reasonable speeds
  • Avoid idling the engine
  • Keep tires properly inflated
  • Get regular wheel alignments
  • Keep up with regularly scheduled Toyota maintenance
  • Fix any mechanical issues

By taking care of your RAV4 today, you not only guarantee better fuel economy but you ensure it remains in its best condition.


Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. The 2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime AWD is rated for 40/35 city/hwy mpg. Other 2019-2023 Toyota RAV4 models are also fuel-efficient. Even if you choose an older model, the ratings are better than many other SUVs in the segment.

If a gas mileage drop happens suddenly, it could be due to a mechanical failure. Go to a mechanic to have the recommended maintenance tasks performed and get the RAV4 checked out.

Yes, Eco mode is designed to use less fuel, making the RAV4 more efficient. With this fuel efficiency comes a drop in performance. When compared with the Normal mode, the RAV4 may not be as responsive in the Eco setting.

Get the Most Out of Your RAV4

Maybe you’ve chosen a Toyota RAV4 because of the fuel economy numbers. Even if you haven’t, it’s important to take advantage of its efficiency to save money. That’s why any drop in fuel economy should prompt quick action on your part.

If driving behavior is to blame, make some changes to your driving habits to improve efficiency. Otherwise, it’s time to have the Toyota RAV4 looked at by a mechanic to see what’s wrong. For every gallon of fuel that’s wasted, you throw money down the drain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. For short trips the Hybrid is much better, that’s where it shines. My 2022 RAV4 Hybrid after 10,000 miles is at an average of 39.06mpg. Less when we go on a long trip, more when I drive it just locally. It’s weird having a hybrid as the mileage you get is the opposite of what you expect in a ICE only car.
    Thanks for the articles!
    The other thing I would love to see an article about is why Toyota’s (especially my Rav4 Hybrid) grossly underestimates how much fuel you have left. I often fill up mine when it says my range is only 30 miles, yet the most I have ever put in the 14.5 gallon tank is 11.8 gallons. So I’m sure I have 100+ mile range but I don’t want to chance it.

    1. Jonathan Buckley says:

      Hi Tom,

      I absolutely agree that the Hybrid gets much better gas mileage for short distances when compared with the gas version. This is something car shoppers should consider when weighing the benefits between the RAV4 gas and Hybrid.

      As for the underestimation of the fuel remaining, I’ll add this article to my to-do list. Perhaps I’ll get that written for this upcoming week! I agree it is confusing and would like to get to the bottom of it.

    2. I used to run down to almost empty on my gas tank but then I read an article about fuel pumps and how they use the gas in the tank to cool the pumps. So I changed my approach and now I try to fill up when it hits 1/4 of a tank left.

  2. Joel Berson says:

    The gas mileage varies considerably on my 2017 RAV4 LTD AWD between me and my wife. I typically get between 10 and 12 L/100km and she is usually above 14. This is combined city/highway, although I tend to take the faster highway, she prefers city driving. She also has a bit of a lead foot. When I drive the ECO light is on almost all the time. Her, not so much, but she does most of the daily driving.

    This car has 3 buttons that really affect mileage, Sport, Normal and ECO. We leave it on normal, except on long highway trips I switch to ECO. The difference in performance and mileage is striking.

    Sport is quite peppy. But mileage suffers. I get 12 to 14+ on Sport. So I rarely use it.
    ECO is sluggish in traffic, but not really noticeable at highway speeds. I typically get 7 or 8 on a long highway trip. But if you need power right now, a hard press on the gas gives a sport response, then goes back to ECO.

    So it is on normal all the time. Decent performance, acceptable mileage.

    Waiting (and waiting) for my Hybrid to arrive and see if that makes a lot of difference.

  3. John Shiels says:

    I here alot of friends say that the engine stop at lights actually hurts the engine and components making it more costly to fix than just letting it idle at lights

  4. No mention was made about TOP TIER gasoline vs. other gasolines.

    I look for it all the time and use it as much as possible. As far as making a difference in my MPG, I dont know for sure. Its probably more of a maintenance thing and will show up when you are over 100,000miles.

    My old mechanic said I should have used that or an additive then I would have had problems later.