Toyota Highlander Gas Mileage (MPG)

As of this writing, we’ve owned our Toyota Highlander for nearly ten months. During that time, I’ve been meticulously tracking our mileage. And today, I want to share with you some insights.

I know that I’ve provided some anecdotal stats (see also here) in the past, but now I have data from 26 fill-ups covering nearly 10,000 miles.

I’ve actually been tracking three key pieces of info for each tank of gas:

  • Average mileage (mpg) as estimated by the on-board computer,
  • Average speed (mph) as estimated by the on-board computer, and
  • Average mileage (mpg) based on actual miles driven and gallons used.

Overall, I’ve been averaging just over 20 mpg in mixed city/highway driving. As a reminder, we have an XLE with FWD, so we’re within 1 mpg of the EPA’s estimate for mixed city/highway driving.

Computer vs. real-world mpg

Are you curious as to how the computer estimates compare to my real-world estimates? If so, then check the graph below.

Calculated vs. estimated mpg... (click image to enlarge)

Calculated vs. estimated mpg… (click image to enlarge)

In this case, each dot corresponds to data from a single tankful of gas. It’s not perfect, but there’s a rather strong correlation between the what I’m calling the “estimated” and “calculated” mileage values.

The black line reflects the linear “best fit” for these data. For the stat geeks out there, r^2 = 0.83 — that’s a pretty darn good fit if you ask me.

For the record, I’ve been very careful in how I’ve been calculating the mileage. This includes filling the tank to where I can just see the gas, rather than letting the pump click off when it thinks I’m full.

As you can see, the computer estimates do get a little wonky at the higher end of the range, with the estimates sort of flattening out. But, overall, the computer seems to be pretty darn accurate.

Mileage as a function of speed

Are you curious as to how your type of driving affects your mileage? If so, then check out the graph below.

Mileage (mpg) vs. speed (mph)... (click image to enlarge)

Mileage (mpg) vs. speed (mph)… (click image to enlarge)

This is a plot of the mpg (based on my own calculations) vs. the computer-generated estimates of average speed (mph). This isn’t so much a measure of variations in my driving style as it is an indicator of the city/highway mix.

In general terms, higher speeds on this graph correspond to tanks of gas that included a higher proportion of highway driving. And, as expected, more highway driving results in better mileage.

Again, the black line reflects the best fit for these data. For the stat geeks, r^2 = 0.58, so it’s another decent fit.

Note that none of these tanks correspond exclusively to highway driving. It’s therefore not particularly surprising that these mpg values fall well short of the EPA estimates for highway mileage.

That being said, our Highlander does perform close to EPA estimates when we have it out on the open road. Is the mileage mind-blowing? No, not really. But it’s pretty close to what they promise on the window sticker.

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Performance & Specifications
13 comments… add one
  • David Kraft Dec 12, 2014

    I have a 2015 hybrid with 5500 miles and I drive it like a normal SUV without paying attention to my hybrid system, I occasionally jump on it because it does have great acceleration. I’m averaging 26.5 mpg but If I really drove it 100% like a hybrid should I’d easily average 28. I live in San Diego, Ca I took a trip to Phoenix, Az “80% flat desert driving and 20% steep mountain driving” round trip I averaged 22 mpg driving 80-95 mph with a headwind – side wind of approx. 30-50 mph. The most interesting thing though was I really didn’t feel the wind since the added weight of the battery pack and the low center of gravity. I must say I absolutely love this Toyota Hybrid.

  • Kristin B Dec 12, 2014

    Is there anywhere that will show you how many miles are remaining on your current gas tank? My Sienna showed that and it was nice to know. I’ve only had my Highlander XLE for 2 weeks so I haven’t needed it (yet).

    • K C Dec 15, 2014

      use the cursors on the steering wheel, and press the down cursor, it will show you “range”, which is the estimated miles before you need a refill.

  • jeff Dec 15, 2014

    2015 XLE AWD in Minnesota. Highway mileage 23-24 mpg. Seems to be better if speed is 65 mph or less. Typical mileage around town runs 19 in the winter and 20-21 in the summer (gas changes in the winter here), although I have a 25 mile commute, so this isn’t just stop & go.
    As to the mileage remaining, the display (on XLE) is on the dashboard, 1 screen down from the default which shows miles driven.

  • Jim Borg Dec 17, 2014

    I have an 2015 AWD Limted. With 3076 miles I calculate I’ve gotten 18.26 mpg in mixed Chicago suburban driving. I keep track of every fill up religiously. We have had only one 500 miles highway road trip. The Eco app shows an average of 16.7 with a high of 19.3 mpg?

  • Edwin Dec 19, 2014

    I just got my 2015 Hybrid, had it about a month. On mixed driving, city and highway, I’m getting around 27 MPG. The most interesting mileage I have been getting is on my daily commute, 20 miles, averaging 24 mph in rush hour traffic. With slow but moving traffic, not too many elevation changes, I’m averaging 31 MPG and it’s been moving up, reaching 34 MPG the last two days. I do drive with a focus on a hybrid (My wife has a Prius that I drove a little) but I’m pretty happy with those numbers so far, especially since mileage goes up a little once the tires break in.

  • Chris V Feb 2, 2015

    Well, hate to rain on the parade here, but I am very disappointed with the mileage my 2015 Highlander Hybrid is getting. We’ve had it since November 2014 are are consistently getting 19 to 20 MPG in around town driving. There is no meaningful improvement on the highway–around 22 to 23, tops. Under no driving conditions are we getting anywhere near the 27 MPG promised by the window sticker. We are coming up on the 6 month service and I plan on complaining about this, but I expect no satisfaction from Toyota. Maybe I’ll get lucky, but I doubt it.

    I do like the car, but I could have gotten a fully loaded Hyundai Santa Fe or a driver’s car like a Mazda CX-9, both with basically the same trim levels, for at least 10K less if I wanted to get this kind of gas mileage.

  • Mikey Feb 21, 2015

    My 2014 Hybrid isn’t doing too well mileage wise and I attribute it to weather and snow tires. I’m in Vermont so we have hilly roads. The bitter cold we’ve had since January has taken a toll and I instantly noticed reduced mileage of about 1-2 miles once my snow tires were installed. Local driving with snow tires was around 25 until the temps began hovering around zero. It’s down to about 21-22. Also, I just drove from Vermont to New Jersey on the Interstate into a very strong headwind. Mileage was around 22. I didn’t have it in ECO mode and I wasn’t heavy on the gas pedal although I averaged about 74mph on the interstate. On the same trip, local Vermont highway travel prior to the interstate was averaging around 24 almost 25 at speeds of about 55mph. I find speeds over 60 or 65mph kill hybrid mileage. Prior to the harshness of this winter, with OEM tires I was averaging 27mph local driving and about 25-26 on the highway. Trying to maximize mileage locally I was able to squeeze closer to 28 but rarely kept it there. More traffic lights and slower speeds increase benefit of the hybrid engine. I do envy diesel on the highway. Overall, my mileage is okay for a vehicle of this size but wish it were closer to EPA estimates.

  • Iain Mar 28, 2015

    I have a heavy foot, and drive mainly in very heavy traffic in Auckland a city with hills like San Fran and am averaging 14.4l per km or 16.3mpg. and that’s a AWD. Have done 6700km or 4400miles and am impressed with the fuel consumption have friends with similar fords 11-13mpg and had a gm\holden AWD and was getting around 14mpg. my brother in laws ford focus is getting 23-24mpg in similar driving conditions so I am happy.

  • Brian Anderson May 16, 2015

    I have AWD Platinum Limited and do a mix of city and highway. I have see the mileage app creep up into the 30’s and 40’s however, average mileage on the driver display shows 16-19. I recently switched to 93 octane gas to see if this would impact the mileage and have no conclusive evidence that it is. I think I read that the EPA mileage test was done on 91 octane gas.

    What octane are you putting in your highlander?

  • William May 31, 2015

    2015 Limited Platinum

    22.5mpg (mixed driving-mostly city in/near Montgomery AL)

  • Raymond Apr 9, 2016

    About two months ago I traded my ’04 Sequoia (V8) for a ’15 Highlander Limited (V6). The Sequoia ended up with an overall average of 14.992 mpg over the eight years I had it.
    I have only used a total of 37.9 gallons in the Highlander averaging 17.8 mpg for all in and around town driving in mid to heavy traffic. I have purchased a mix of 87 or 89 octane, no 91 or 93 purchased. From what I understand, the internal engine management computers adjust for octane rating of the fuel.
    I have not made any interstate trips yet. However, I will be travelling about 1500-1800 miles in about a month. Hopefully, the mpg will be higher than the Sequoia.

  • Michael May 5, 2017

    My 2015 XLE AWD averages 23.5 – 24 mpg around town. Mixed rush hour traffic coupled with some open road cruising at 50mph – 60mph.
    I’m more than satisfied with that given the curb weight. Open highway mileage is somewhat better. But not much given that I average 70mph – 75mph.

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