Toyota RAV4 Eco Mode

It usually doesn’t take long to spot the “ECO” button on a RAV4, which is located prominently near the gear shifter. But what does it actually do?

Learning how and when to use ECO mode could help you save some money when fueling up. So, in this article, I will explain everything you need to know about ECO mode on the Toyota RAV4.

rav4 driving mode buttons

What It Is

The RAV4’s ECO mode regulates several of the car’s functions when it’s activated to help increase fuel economy. ECO mode smoothly generates torque in response to the driver’s gas pedal usage, heating, air conditioning, and other sources of power consumption in your vehicle.

When compared to other available driving modes, ECO mode is the most fuel-efficient. This means the driver saves money on fuel and reduces their emissions and overall ecological footprint.

Just beware that when ECO mode is selected, the accelerator pedal is not as responsive, and the vehicle can feel less powerful.

When to Use It

Activating ECO mode prioritizes fuel efficiency. As discussed, it does so by taking reducing the available power from the engine and other vehicle functions, such as heating and cooling.

You should use ECO mode during city driving or when there’s a lot of stop-and-go traffic.

I will note that ECO mode is not the best option for times when power is needed because the vehicle will not be as responsive as it should.

So, when going uphill or accelerating to pass another car on the highway, it’s best to turn the ECO mode off. In these situations, try to stick with Sport mode or Normal mode.

How to Turn It On/Off

Did you just purchase a RAV4 or want to know how to turn ECO mode on and off? If so, follow these easy steps:

  • To turn ECO mode on, simply press the ECO button or turn the dial to the left, depending on your model.
  • To turn ECO mode off, press the ECO button again (2013-2018 RAV4s) or press the NORMAL button on (2019-2024 RAV4s).
eco mode button location

When ECO mode is activated, the ECO mode indicator light will turn green. Your multi-information display will also be accented in green. Once ECO mode is turned off, these indicators will go away.

rav4 eco indicator light
2021 Toyota RAV4 LE Eco Mode Indicator

It’s important to note that ECO mode can be safely switched on and off while parked or driving. Furthermore, the style of indicator light will differ depending on your model. 2013-2018 RAV4s have a different ECO indicator light than the 2019-2024 models.

Does It Make a Difference?

Some people believe that you can save the same amount of fuel by simply adjusting driving patterns. While this is true to a certain extent, ECO mode does make a greater difference in fuel economy.

Yes, eco mode does actually make a difference. I’ve seen ECO mode improve fuel efficiency by as much as 2 to 3 MPG on my 2021 Toyota RAV4 LE.

The exact amount of fuel saved by ECO mode will vary depending on your driving habits. Also, ECO mode isn’t going to take your vehicle from 25 MPG up to 45 MPG. It only makes a slight difference (but can add up over time).

Click here to see what MPG you should expect in your Toyota RAV4.

Perhaps the people who will gain the most from ECO mode are those who drive in a way that consumes a lot of fuel. For example, ECO mode may help you if you do a lot of city driving or tend to accelerate aggressively.

Though it’s not the most exciting feature on your RAV4, ECO mode is an excellent way to reduce emissions and save a few dollars at the pump.

Expert Tip

I’ve spent a lot of time driving my RAV4 in Eco mode, as well as other driving modes. It can be quite useful to switch between modes in different situations.

My recommendation is to leave your RAV4 in Eco mode as much as possible, but switch out of it temporarily whenever you need some extra power.

Let’s be honest. Most of the time you’re just cruising around town or the highway and you don’t need much power. That’s why I recommend leaving the car in Eco mode as much as possible.

Of course, there will be situations when you need more power, such as passing someone on a highway. At these moments, I recommend switching to Normal or Sport mode until you pass them.

Don’t worry, you’ll still have plenty of power in an emergency even if you’re in Eco mode. Just be prepared to push the accelerator down further than usual.


ECO mode is an option that’s been included with the RAV4 since 2013. While ECO mode isn’t a magic button that will instantly make your vehicle drastically more fuel efficient, it does make some incremental differences that can add up over time.

This is especially true for stop-and-go driving, as ECO mode will reduce the engine’s power output and regulate some of the vehicle’s systems. The best part is that the option is easy to use and can be activated quickly, leaving the driver in complete control.

Regardless of how you feel about the effectiveness of ECO mode, its true value comes from its ability to make you more aware of your driving habits. So, for those who brake or accelerate rapidly, this mode encourages you to be more frugal. Try it during your next commute and you may notice a difference!

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  1. Valerie Smith says:

    Another family member has the same model RAV4 that I have. Explain it to me ,And I do see the difference.

  2. Captain Steve says:

    Do these emails ever detail information for RAV 4 Hybrids? Seems to discuss RAV 4 only?

    1. RAV4 Resource says:

      Most of our articles apply to the RAV4 Hybrid, including this one about ECO mode.

  3. Gary Berus says:

    This is an extraordinary website filled with important information that is far easier to consume and digest than reading the online PDF Operators Manual.
    Thank you for the excellent job you have been doing to help us navigate all the extra cool features of our RAV4’s.
    I look forward to receiving each email!

    1. RAV4 Resource says:

      Thank you, Gary!

  4. I always thought ECO mode was the best for mpg but I guess I live in an area that is too hilly and have recently switched back to NORMAL and my mpg has increased. Next, I have to put a few more pounds of air in my tires. Will probably use (35-40)psi year round unless it gets to rough riding.

    1. RAV4 Resource says:

      Interesting observation! Thanks for sharing.

  5. That was very wise advice on driving in ECO mode as much as possible cause under our every day stop and go driving in the city and around town is where it’s the hardest and most challenging for our vehicles, then to say that you should be prepared to switch into other modes as the need arises was just a brilliant statement, but a no-brainer at the same time because it just makes simple sense to keep it in the most eco-friendly mode as possible and switch when passing other vehicles, or weather conditions change our going offloading. Thank you for this informative information.