How to get better gas mileage in a Toyota RAV4

How to Increase the Gas Mileage in a Toyota RAV4: 11 Tips


I own a Toyota RAV4 because it is reliable and fuel-efficient, hence Toyota’s slogan “Let’s Go Places”. But if you’ve noticed your gas mileage is not up to par, it’s time to fix that. Don’t worry, I will walk you through exactly how to get better gas mileage (MPG) in your Toyota RAV4.

How do you get better gas mileage (MPG) in a Toyota RAV4?

These tips will work on all Toyota RAV4 models including the RAV4 Hybrid and Prime models.

Are you interested in mods and accessory ideas for your RAV4? See the 45 best Toyota RAV4 mods & aftermarket accessories.

1. Use Eco Mode

I use Eco Mode on all my road trips because it prioritizes fuel efficiency over speed and power which helps your vehicle run more efficiently. This means you’ll consume less fuel for the same distance traveled, effectively improving your gas mileage. It’s like having a personal fuel-saving assistant built right into your RAV4!

RAV4 ECO Mode or Economy Mode

What is Eco Mode?

Eco Mode is a built-in feature in the Toyota RAV4 designed to optimize your vehicle’s fuel efficiency by up to 20%. When activated, it tweaks various settings in your car to make sure you’re getting the most miles per gallon (MPG). See Eco mode on RAV4 Prime vs. Hybrid comparison.

How Does Eco Mode Work?

Eco Mode works by optimizing your vehicle’s performance by adjusting throttle response, engine power, climate control settings, and sometimes transmission shift points to prioritize fuel efficiency. These tweaks result in smoother acceleration, reduced engine load, and ultimately, improved gas mileage.

Throttle Response

In Eco Mode, the throttle response is less sensitive. This means smoother, more gradual acceleration that helps you avoid aggressive acceleration, which eats up fuel.

Engine Power

Eco mode limits the engine’s power output slightly. Your RAV4 may feel a bit less zippy, but it’s all for the good cause of saving fuel.

Climate Control

Eco Mode also plays with your climate control settings. It may reduce fan speed and prioritize recirculating cabin air. This puts less load on the engine which means more fuel savings.

Transmission Shift Points

In some RAV4 models, Eco Mode affects when your transmission shifts. It aims for lower RPMs, making your engine work more efficiently.

When to Use Eco Mode

Quick Tips for Using Eco Mode

  1. Activate Early: Turn on Eco Mode at the start of your trip for maximum benefit.
  2. Monitor Performance: Keep an eye on your fuel efficiency display to see the impact.
  3. Combine with Other Tips: Eco Mode works best when used with other fuel-saving techniques.

Remember, Eco Mode alone won’t turn your RAV4 into a fuel-sipping miracle. It’s one tool in your fuel-efficiency toolkit. Use it wisely and in combination with other tips for the best results.

Curious about your RAV4’s fuel efficiency? We’ve got you covered!

2. Avoid Aggressive Acceleration and Braking

I avoid using aggressive acceleration and braking to increase my fuel efficiency, if you don’t believe me just ask my wife. It’s a simple change but it has made a big difference in my gas mileage. Think of it as the zen approach to driving your RAV4!

avoid aggressive driving to get better gas mileage

What is Aggressive Acceleration and Braking?

Aggressive acceleration and braking refer to sudden bursts of speed or abrupt stops. These actions can be fuel guzzlers, reducing your RAV4’s overall fuel efficiency.

How Does Avoiding Aggressive Driving Improve Gas Mileage?

By driving smoothly and avoiding rapid starts and stops, you reduce the workload on your engine. This leads to less fuel consumption and, consequently, better gas mileage.

What is Toyota’s Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) system? See all that you need to know about the Toyota RAV4 lane assist.

The Science Behind It

Engine Strain

Rapid acceleration and braking put extra strain on the engine. This extra strain requires more fuel to maintain.

Brake Wear

Aggressive braking wears down your brake pads faster. Worn brakes can indirectly affect fuel efficiency by causing drag.

When to Be Extra Cautious

  • In heavy traffic, especially if stop-and-go is frequent.
  • On highways where high speeds can tempt aggressive driving.
  • In residential areas with lots of stop signs and traffic lights.

Quick Tips for Smoother Driving

  1. Anticipate Stops: Look ahead and start slowing down well before stop signs or red lights.
  2. Gradual Acceleration: Press the gas pedal gently for a more gradual increase in speed.
  3. Use Cruise Control: It helps maintain a constant speed, which is good for fuel efficiency.

Avoiding aggressive acceleration and braking will make a noticeable difference in your gas mileage.

What size of windshield wipers does your RAV4 use? Find the exact wiper blade sizes for your RAV4 with our easy to use tool.

3. Slow Down on the Highway

You know, driving fast on the highway can be thrilling, but it’s not doing any favors for your gas mileage. I’ve found that slowing down a bit not only keeps me safer but also boosts my fuel efficiency. Trust me, my wallet thanks me every time I fill up!

Toyota RAV4 Roof Rack and Cross Bars

What Does “Slow Down on the Highway” Mean?

When I say “slow down,” I’m talking about keeping your speed within the optimal range for fuel efficiency, which is 55-65 mph (The Guardian Tips). Going above this range can really guzzle up your gas.

How Does Slowing Down Improve Gas Mileage?

By maintaining a speed within the 55-65 mph range, you’re allowing your RAV4 to operate at its most fuel-efficient. I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my gas mileage when I stick to these speeds.

The Aerodynamics of It All

Wind Resistance

The faster you go, the more wind resistance you encounter. This resistance makes your engine work harder, consuming more fuel.

Rolling Resistance

At higher speeds, your tires have to overcome more rolling resistance. This also adds to the fuel consumption.

When to Be Mindful of Your Speed

  • On long road trips, if you’ll be on the highway for extended periods.
  • In areas with speed limits that are conducive to fuel-efficient driving.
  • During peak travel times, it’s easy to get caught up in the fast flow of traffic.

Quick Tips for Maintaining Optimal Speed

  1. Use Cruise Control: I love using cruise control to maintain a steady speed.
  2. Check Your Speedometer: Keep an eye on it to ensure you’re within the 55-65 mph range.
  3. Plan Your Overtakes: If you have to pass someone, do it smoothly to avoid sudden speed changes.

I’ve made it a habit to slow down on the highway and have seen noticeable results. So next time you hit the highway, remember: slower can be better.

4. Take Off Slowly from a Stop

I used to be one of those drivers who’d zoom off the moment the light turned green. But then I realized how much fuel I was wasting. Now, I take off slowly, and guess what? My gas mileage has improved, and I’m not even late to where I’m going!

What Does “Take Off Slowly from a Stop” Mean?

When I say “take off slowly,” I mean easing into the gas pedal instead of flooring it. This allows for a gradual increase in speed, which is much better for fuel efficiency.

How Taking Off Slowly Improves Gas Mileage

By accelerating gradually, you’re reducing the sudden demand for power from your engine. I’ve found that this simple change has a noticeable impact on my fuel consumption.

The Mechanics Behind It

Engine Load

Quickstarts put a lot of load on the engine. This load requires more fuel to overcome.

Torque and RPM

Taking off slowly keeps the RPMs low. Lower RPMs mean less fuel is used.

When to Practice Slow Take-Offs

  • At traffic lights and stop signs.
  • In stop-and-go traffic, especially during rush hours.
  • Anytime you’re starting from a complete stop.

Quick Tips for Gradual Take-Offs

  1. Ease Into It: I gently press the gas pedal instead of stomping on it.
  2. Be Mindful of Traffic: Keep an eye on the cars behind you; you don’t want to be too slow.
  3. Use ECO Mode: If you have a RAV4 with ECO mode, use it because it will help automatically.

Taking off slowly from a stop has become second nature to me, and it’s made a real difference in my gas mileage. It’s a small change, but the benefits are big. So the next time you’re at a red light, remember that slow and steady wins the fuel efficiency race.

5. Keep Tires Properly Inflated

I’ll be honest, I used to overlook the importance of tire pressure. However, once I started keeping my tires properly inflated, I noticed a significant improvement in my RAV4’s gas mileage. It’s a game-changer, folks!

RAV4 tire pressure

What Does “Keep Tires Properly Inflated” Mean?

When I talk about keeping tires properly inflated, I mean maintaining the tire pressure at the level recommended by Toyota. You can usually find this information in your owner’s manual or on a sticker inside the driver’s side door.

Toyota RAV4 tire pressure

How Properly Inflated Tires Improve Gas Mileage

Having the right tire pressure reduces rolling resistance, which means your engine doesn’t have to work as hard. I’ve found that this simple maintenance task can actually boost my fuel efficiency.

What size of tires will fit on a RAV4? See Toyota RAV4 tire size for any year.

The Relationship Between Tire Pressure and Fuel Efficiency

Rolling Resistance

Lower tire pressure increases rolling resistance. More resistance means more work for the engine and more fuel consumption.

Tire Wear

Properly inflated tires wear more evenly. Uneven wear can lead to imbalances that affect fuel efficiency.

When to Check Tire Pressure

  • I check mine at least once a month.
  • Before long road trips.
  • When the seasons change, temperature can affect tire pressure.

Quick Tips for Maintaining Proper Tire Pressure

  1. Use a Reliable Gauge: I always use a trusted tire pressure gauge for accurate readings.
  2. Check When Cold: Tire pressure is most accurate when the tires are cold.
  3. Don’t Overinflate: Overinflating tires can be as bad as underinflating them when it comes to fuel efficiency.

Keeping my tires properly inflated has been a small but impactful change in my driving routine. If you haven’t been paying attention to your tire pressure, start now. Your RAV4—and your wallet—will thank you.

6. Avoid Idling the Engine

I used to think that idling for a few minutes here and there wouldn’t make much of a difference. Boy, was I wrong! Once I started turning off my engine during idle times, I saw a noticeable uptick in my fuel efficiency.

engine idling burns gas

What Does “Avoid Idling the Engine” Mean?

When I say “avoid idling,” I mean turning off your engine when you’re stopped for more than a minute or so.

How Avoiding Idling Improves Gas Mileage

Idling consumes fuel but gets you nowhere, literally. By simply turning off the engine during idle times, I’ve modestly cut down on unnecessary fuel consumption.

The Impact on Vehicle Health

Engine Wear

Idling for extended periods can actually wear out engine components. Less wear means a healthier engine and better long-term fuel efficiency.


Idling contributes to unnecessary emissions. By avoiding idling, I’m doing my part for the environment too.

When to Turn Off the Engine

  • Waiting in the car for someone.
  • Stuck in a long queue, like at a drive-thru or a railway crossing.
  • Whenever you’re parked and don’t need the engine running.

Quick Tips for Avoiding Idling

  1. Be Aware: I always keep an eye on the clock when I’m stopped.
  2. Use Start-Stop Technology: If your RAV4 has this feature, make sure it’s activated.
  3. Plan Ahead: If I know I’ll be waiting for a while, I turn off the engine.

Avoiding idling has been one of the easiest changes I’ve made, and the benefits are clear. So the next time you find yourself at a standstill, just turn off that engine. Your RAV4 will thank you, and so will your wallet.

7. Remove Unnecessary Weight from Your RAV4

I used to be guilty of using my RAV4 as a mobile storage unit. From camping gear to old textbooks, you name it, it was in there. However, once I cleared out the clutter, I noticed my gas mileage started to improve.

extra weight in your RAV4 will burn more gas

What Does “Remove Unnecessary Weight” Mean?

When I talk about removing unnecessary weight, I mean taking out items that you don’t need for your journey. Trust me, those extra pounds can really add up and affect your fuel consumption.

How much weight can a RAV4 rooftop hold? See the Toyota RAV4 roof rack weight limit before you overload it.

How Removing Weight Improves Gas Mileage

The logic is simple: the lighter the vehicle, the less work the engine has to do to move it. I’ve found that by just removing items I don’t need, I’ve been able to get more miles per gallon.

The Physics of Weight and Fuel Efficiency

Work Done by the Engine

Extra weight means the engine has to work harder. A harder-working engine consumes more fuel.

Suspension and Tires

Extra weight can also put more strain on your suspension and tires. This can indirectly affect your fuel efficiency.

When to Lighten the Load

  • Before long trips.
  • Seasonal clean-outs, like switching from winter to summer gear.
  • Whenever you notice your trunk is getting cluttered.

Are you interested in freeing up some cargo space in your RAV4? See the 5 best RAV4 roof rack and cross bars.

Quick Tips for Weight Removal

  1. Prioritize: I always ask myself, “Do I really need this for my trip?”
  2. Regular Checks: I make it a habit to check my trunk and backseat regularly.
  3. Be Ruthless: If I haven’t used it in a while, out it goes.

8. Keep Up on Toyota’s Regularly Scheduled Maintenance

I used to think that skipping a maintenance appointment here and there wouldn’t make a big difference. But let me tell you, keeping up with regularly scheduled maintenance has been a big deal for my RAV4’s overall health which affects gas mileage (see RAV4 maintenance light meaining).

Toyota RAV4 maintenance required see your dealer light message

What Does “Regularly Scheduled Maintenance” Mean?

When I talk about regularly scheduled maintenance, I mean following Toyota’s recommended maintenance schedule for the RAV4. This usually includes oil changes, tire pressure checks (rotations, and lug nut torque), air filter replacements, and other essential checks.

How Regular Maintenance Improves Gas Mileage

Staying on top of maintenance ensures that all the parts of my RAV4 are working as efficiently as possible. I’ve found that this proactive approach has a direct impact on my fuel consumption.

Key Maintenance Tasks That Impact Fuel Efficiency

Oil Changes

Fresh oil reduces friction in the engine. Less friction means better fuel efficiency.

Interested in Changing the oil in your RAV4 yourself? See a step-by-step guide on how to change oil in a RAV4 and everything you’ll need.

Air Filter Replacement

A clean air filter improves airflow to the engine. Better airflow equals better fuel combustion and efficiency.

Spark Plug Checks

Worn-out spark plugs can reduce fuel efficiency. Regular checks can prevent this issue.

When to Schedule Maintenance

  • I follow Toyota’s guidelines in my RAV4’s owner’s manual.
  • Before and after long road trips.
  • Whenever I notice a decrease in fuel efficiency.

Quick Tips for Maintenance

  1. Stick to the Schedule: I always mark my calendar for upcoming maintenance tasks.
  2. Use Trusted Mechanics: I make sure to go to certified Toyota service centers.
  3. Keep Records: I keep a log of all maintenance activities for future reference.

Keeping up with regularly scheduled maintenance has been important for me. So don’t skip those appointments; your car and your wallet will thank you.

9. Plan Driving Routes

I used to be a “drive by the seat of my pants” kind of guy, but I’ve learned that planning my routes in advance can make a world of difference in fuel efficiency. It’s like having a road map to better gas mileage, and who doesn’t want that?

What Does “Plan Driving Routes” Mean?

When I say “plan driving routes,” I mean taking a few minutes before heading out to map out the most efficient way to get to my destination. This often involves avoiding traffic jams, stoplights, and other obstacles that can eat up fuel.

How Planning Routes Improves Gas Mileage

By choosing routes with fewer stops and less congestion, I’ve found that I can significantly reduce the amount of time I spend idling or accelerating, which in turn improves my gas mileage.

Tools and Apps for Effective Route Planning

GPS Systems

I often use my car’s built-in GPS or a trusted navigation app on my phone. These tools offer real-time traffic updates and can reroute me if needed.

Traffic Apps

Apps like Google Maps or Waze provide traffic insights. I use them to avoid congested areas.

When to Plan Your Routes

  • Before heading out for the day.
  • Prior to long road trips.
  • Whenever I’m going to multiple places in one outing.

Quick Tips for Route Planning

  1. Check Traffic: I always check traffic conditions before leaving.
  2. Use Real-Time Updates: I keep my navigation app open to get real-time updates.
  3. Have a Backup Plan: I always have an alternative route in mind, just in case.

10. Get Regular Wheel Alignments

I’ll admit, wheel alignments were not on my radar for a long time. But once I started getting them done regularly, I noticed my RAV4 was not only driving better but also using less fuel.

Toyota RAV4 wheel alignment

What Does “Get Regular Wheel Alignments” Mean?

When I talk about getting regular wheel alignments, I mean having a professional adjust the angles of my wheels so they’re set to Toyota’s specifications. This ensures optimal tire wear and vehicle handling.

How Wheel Alignments Improve Gas Mileage

Properly aligned wheels reduce rolling resistance, which means your engine doesn’t have to work as hard. I’ve found that this simple adjustment can actually improve my fuel efficiency.

The Importance of Wheel Alignment

Tire Wear

Misaligned wheels can cause uneven tire wear. Uneven wear can lead to imbalances that affect your gas mileage.

Vehicle Handling

Proper alignment improves the car’s handling. Better handling means less corrective steering, which can save fuel.

When to Get a Wheel Alignment

Do you want to reduce the road noise in your RAV4? See the top 5 quietest tires for Toyota RAV4.

Quick Tips for Wheel Alignments

  1. Choose a Trusted Mechanic: I always go to a certified service center for wheel alignments.
  2. Check for Signs: If I notice uneven tire wear or my car pulling to one side, I know it’s time.
  3. Combine with Other Services: I often get alignments done when I’m in for other maintenance.

11. Use Cruise Control Often

I use cruise control all the time, especially on long road trips and I’ve seen a noticeable improvement in my gas mileage. It’s like setting your RAV4 on autopilot for better fuel efficiency!

Toyota RAV4 remote start

What Does “Use Cruise Control Often” Mean?

When I say “use cruise control often,” I mean taking advantage of this feature whenever it’s safe and practical. Cruise control maintains a constant speed, which is great for fuel efficiency.

How Using Cruise Control Improves Gas Mileage

Cruise control helps maintain a steady speed, eliminating the fuel-wasting ups and downs of manual driving. I’ve found that this consistency really helps improve my fuel efficiency.

The Benefits of Cruise Control

Steady Speed

Maintaining a constant speed reduces the need for acceleration and braking. Less speed variation means better fuel efficiency.

Reduced Driver Fatigue

Using cruise control allows me to relax a bit behind the wheel. Less fatigue means more focus on efficient driving habits.

When to Use Cruise Control

  • On highways and open roads.
  • During off-peak hours when traffic is lighter.
  • Anytime it’s safe and won’t disrupt the flow of traffic.

Quick Tips for Using Cruise Control

  1. Know When to Use It: I avoid using cruise control in heavy traffic, winder weather, or on winding roads.
  2. Set a Reasonable Speed: I set the cruise control at a fuel-efficient speed, usually within the 55-65 mph range.
  3. Stay Alert: Even with cruise control on, I always stay attentive to the road conditions.

Using cruise control as often as possible has made a world of difference for me.

Why is my Toyota RAV4 getting bad gas mileage?

If you notice a drop in your gas mileage, mechanical or other problems might be the cause. Here are some RAV4 issues that can impact your gas mileage:

  • Bad fuel pump
  • Faulty fuel injectors
  • Low tire pressure
  • Corroded spark plugs
  • Malfunctioning oxygen sensors
  • Dirty air filter
  • Worn piston rings
  • Old oil and filter (See how to change RAV4 oil)
  • Dirty airflow sensor
  • Wheel misalignment

Regular maintenance will help prevent these issues. Use the above list or get your RAV4 checked by a trusted technician.

What Factors Actually Affect MPG in the RAV4?

Official fuel economy ratings offer a baseline, your day-to-day driving experience can tell a different story. Various factors can impact your real-world miles per gallon (MPG), such as:

Do you recognize some of these factors in your own driving habits? They could be the culprits behind your lower-than-expected fuel efficiency.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average gas mileage for a Toyota RAV4?

The average gas mileage for a Toyota RAV4 can range from 27 to 40 MPG, depending on the model and driving conditions. See the RAV4 MPG data of any year or model using our easy calculator tool.

Why is my RAV4’s gas mileage lower than expected?

Factors like aggressive driving, frequent idling, and carrying extra weight can negatively impact your RAV4’s fuel efficiency.

How does Eco Mode improve gas mileage?

Eco Mode optimizes your vehicle’s performance by adjusting throttle response and engine power to prioritize fuel efficiency.

Is it better to drive slower on the highway for better gas mileage?

Yes, maintaining a speed between 55-65 mph on the highway can improve your RAV4’s fuel efficiency.

Does air conditioning affect gas mileage?

Yes, using air conditioning can put an extra load on the engine, leading to increased fuel consumption.

Can roof cargo impact fuel efficiency?

Roof cargo carriers create aerodynamic drag and add weight, both of which will the lower fuel efficiency in a RAV4.

Is it bad to idle my RAV4 for long periods?

Extended idling will consume more fuel and contribute to engine wear, so it’s best to avoid it when possible.

How does towing affect my RAV4’s gas mileage?

Towing adds extra weight and resistance, requiring more engine power and thus reducing your fuel efficiency.


Consumer Reports – How to Get the Best Fuel Economy Now

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