Toyota Highlander Gas Type: All Generations Explained

Type of Gas Does Toyota Highlander Take

While Toyotas are known to “last forever”, even a dependable crossover SUV like the Highlander is still a mere mortal in the hands of the wrong fuel type.

Whichever fuel you use may make all the difference between the Highlander being an efficient family carrier and a lethargic gas guzzler that makes knocking noises, so let’s help you avoid that.

Having driven, worked on, and given different fuel grades and blends for all kinds of Toyotas, here’s our guide on the gas types you should and shouldn’t let your Highlander drink before going out to play!

What type of gas does a Toyota Highlander take?

The Toyota Highlander takes regular unleaded gasoline with a minimum octane rating of 87 AKI (91 RON).

Higher-octane fuel may still be used for the Toyota Highlander, but it will not result in any additional performance benefits other than providing more resistance to engine knock.

What type of gas does a Toyota Highlander take

When picking out the correct type of fuel for your vehicle, a great place to start would be the octane rating/grade that’s recommended by the manufacturer itself.

In the Toyota Highlander mid-size crossover SUV’s case, every single one of its engine options is designed to run on at least regular unleaded 87-octane gasoline, nothing too special.

This 87-octane rating is in “AKI” (Anti-Knock Index), which is what’s used to measure gasoline octane in the US, Canada, and Mexico. 

However, for the majority of other countries around the world, 87 AKI would be equivalent to 91 RON (Research Octane Number).

This means that internationally-sold Toyota Highlander models, or “Toyota Kluger” models as they’re called in Japan and Australia, are advised to be filled up with fuel with a minimum octane rating of 91 RON, which is exactly the same thing.

But aside from the octane rating, there are still several other things worth talking about when it comes to what type of gas you can and cannot use for the Toyota Highlander.

In the next few parts, we’ll be diving into different fuel blends, the use of ethanol, and even fuel additives for the Toyota Highlander, so read on!

Toyota Highlander Fuel Requirements Per Generation and Engine Option

All Toyota Highlander generations and engine options require fuel with a minimum octane rating of 87 AKI (91 RON).

Avoid using fuel that’s lower than 87 octane for the Toyota Highlander, as this can cause the engine to knock, reduce its performance, and potentially cause damage to internal parts. 

1st-Generation Toyota Highlander (XU20) (2001 to 2007)

1st-Generation Toyota Highlander (XU20) (2001 to 2007)
Engine OptionMinimum Fuel Requirement
2.4L 2AZ-FE Inline-4 (I4)87-Octane Gasoline (Regular) (91 RON)
3.0L 1MZ-FE V687-Octane Gasoline (Regular) (91 RON)
3.3L 3MZ-FE V687-Octane Gasoline (Regular) (91 RON)
3.3L 3MZ-FE V6 Hybrid87-Octane Gasoline (Regular) (91 RON)

1st-generation Toyota Highlander models first started rolling out the factory in 2000 for the 2001 model tear, and with it came a variety of engine options that were all designed to run on regular 87-octane gasoline.

Base models were equipped with a 2.4-liter “2AZ-FE” 4-cylinder engine that generated 155 hp, while V6 models consisted of either a 3-liter “1MZ-FE” or a 3.3-liter “3MZ-FE” engine that put out 203 hp and 225 hp respectively.

A hybrid version of the 3.3-liter 3MZ-FE V6 was also released for the 2006 model year, which is what started the “Highlander Hybrid” model in North America.

Despite the clear difference in specs between the 4-cylinder mill and the bigger and more powerful V6s, premium fuel will not be necessary to satisfy the 1st-gen Highlander engine lineup.

2nd-Generation Toyota Highlander (XU40) (2008 to 2013)

2nd-Generation Toyota Highlander (XU40) (2008 to 2013)
Engine OptionMinimum Fuel Requirement
2.7L 1AR-FE Inline-4 (I4)87-Octane Gasoline (Regular) (91 RON)
3.5L 2GR-FE V687-Octane Gasoline (Regular) (91 RON)
3.3L 3MZ-FE V6 Hybrid87-Octane Gasoline (Regular) (91 RON)
3.5L 2GR-FXE V6 Hybrid87-Octane Gasoline (Regular) (91 RON)

For the 2nd generation of the Toyota Highlander in 2008, the Japanese manufacturer essentially revamped most of the engine lineup of the last generation while still keeping the 3.3-liter 3MZ-FE V6 Hybrid option of that time.

The previous 2.4-liter 2AZ-FE base engine was succeeded by the bigger 2.7-liter 1AR-FE I4 in 2009, providing 187 hp to lower trim models.

Similarly, the last-gen 3-liter 1MZ-FE was also retired in favor of the newer 3.5-liter 2GR-FE V6. This particular V6 power plant also comes in a hybrid form called the “2GR-FXE” and was made available for the 2011 Highlander Hybrid.

As with the last generation, whether you opt for a powerful V6 or a more economy-focused I4, the 2nd-gen Highlander is designed to run on regular unleaded 87-octane gasoline.

3rd-Generation Toyota Highlander (XU50) (2014 to 2019)

3rd-Generation Toyota Highlander (XU50) (2014 to 2019)
Engine OptionMinimum Fuel Requirement
2.7L 1AR-FE Inline-4 (I4)87-Octane Gasoline (Regular) (91 RON)
3.5L 2GR-FE V687-Octane Gasoline (Regular) (91 RON)
3.5L 2GR-FXE V6 Hybrid87-Octane Gasoline (Regular) (91 RON)
3.5L 2GR-FKS V687-Octane Gasoline (Regular) (91 RON)

Even with the 3rd-gen Toyota Highlander’s vastly different styling and more modern amenities, its list of engine options isn’t all that different from that of the last generation, but there are still some changes as you opt for higher trims.

Both the 2.7-liter 1AR-FE I4 and the 3.5-liter 2GR-FE V6 make their return powering this generation’s non-hybrid trim levels. 

The 2GR-FE V6, in particular, was an option offered until the 2016 model year, when it was eventually replaced by the newer “2GR-FKS” V6 having the same displacement (3.5 liters).

As for the 3rd-gen Highlander Hybrid variant, it was still powered by the same 2GR-FXE V6 from the last-gen model until 2019.

Again, all engine options of the 3rd-gen Toyota Highlander are designed to primarily take fuel with a minimum octane rating of 87. 

Going any lower than that can affect engine performance and fuel efficiency and even lead to damage, whereas going any higher than that with premium gas will yield no extra benefits that regular gas already gives.

4th-Generation Toyota Highlander (XU70) (2020 to 2023/Present)

4th-Generation Toyota Highlander (XU70) (2020 to 2023/Present)
Engine OptionMinimum Fuel Requirement
2.4L T24A-FTS Inline-4 (I4) Turbo87-Octane Gasoline (Regular) (91 RON)
3.5L 2GR-FKS V687-Octane Gasoline (Regular) (91 RON)
2.5L A25A-FXS Inline-4 (I4) Hybrid87-Octane Gasoline (Regular) (91 RON)

The 4th and current generation of the Toyota Highlander, dubbed the “XU70”, offers an updated engine lineup that’s arguably the most unique one the crossover SUV has ever had.

The 4th-gen model is offered with a turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine called the “T24A-FTS”, making this the first instance that forced induction has been used on any Toyota Highlander from the factory.

This 2.3-liter turbo I4 is what replaced the 3.5-liter 2GR-FKS V6 for the 2023 model year, which has already been around since the 3rd-gen facelifted model in 2016.

While a turbocharged engine is usually associated with requiring premium fuel, the T24A-FTS is actually tuned to use just regular 87-octane fuel. 

Simply put, it’s not a high-performance engine, and secondly, modern direct injection and ignition timing technology allow even turbocharged engines in non-performance cars to avoid knocking with regular fuel.

This is also the same story with the new 2.5-liter “A25A-FXS” I4 hybrid engine, which powers the 4th-gen Highlander Hybrid model with 87-octane fuel just fine.

To sum it up, the 4th-gen 2020 Toyota Highlander gas type is simply regular unleaded 87-octane gasoline for all of its engine options.

Toyota Highlander Octane Rating

The Toyota Highlander calls for a minimum of regular 87-octane (91 RON) unleaded gasoline.

Any fuel lower than 87 octane should be avoided for the Toyota Highlander since it can cause the engine to knock, decrease its performance, and result in potential damage to the engine and fuel system.

Types of Gasoline/Fuel That Can Be Used in a Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander can be filled up with fuel such as TOP TIER detergent gasoline, reformulated gasoline, and up to 10% or 15% ethanol blends (E-10/E-15).

For Highlander models sold in the US, Toyota also advises only using fuel that meets the requirements for ASTM D4814.

TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline

TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline

As recommended by the Japanese car manufacturer itself, TOP TIER detergent gasoline is one of the best and safest types of fuel that you can use for the Toyota Highlander.

TOP TIER fuel has very high standards when it comes to detergent additives, which are formulated to clean your engine and fuel system from any carbon deposits or debris.

And of course, having a clean engine will help it perform optimally and achieve the best fuel efficiency. Thus, if you’re opting to fill up your Toyota Highlander with TOP TIER gas, just look for its label at your local gas pumps.

TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline

Reformulated Gasoline

Reformulated gasoline, or “RFG” for short, is a relatively modern type of fuel that’s specifically blended to burn cleaner and reduce harmful exhaust emissions.

Conventional gasoline typically is responsible for the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOC), nitrogen oxide (NOX), and carbon monoxide (CO), all of which are reduced when switching to reformulated gasoline instead.

Because of its environmental benefits, reformulated gasoline is mandated in a lot of places that have higher concentrations of air pollution in smog.

If you want to gas up with reformulated gasoline, then you can ask your local gas retailers if they have it available, as it can be tricky to distinguish from regular gasoline.

Up to 10% or 15% Ethanol Blends (E10/E15)

Up to 10% or 15% Ethanol Blends (E10/E15)

Aside from pure gasoline, the Toyota Highlander is also compatible with gasoline blended with oxygenates such as ethanol. However, how much ethanol are we talking about exactly?

According to our research, Toyota Highlander models up until the 2011 model year are compatible with up to 10% ethanol in gasoline, or “E10”.

2012 and newer Highlander models, on the other hand, have been approved to take as much as 15% ethanol blended in gasoline, or “E15”.

You should keep these ethanol limits in mind, as anything higher can cause corrosion or damage to your engine and fuel system components since ethanol has a tendency to attract water.

Vehicles that are limited to E10 or E15 usually have a regular black gas cap, such as the one below.

Up to 10% or 15% Ethanol Blends (E10/E15)

Types of Gasoline/Fuel to Avoid for the Toyota Highlander

Avoid filling up the Toyota Highlander with gasoline containing MMT, Flex-Fuel/E85, ethanol blends with over 15% content, leaded gasoline, and any gasoline with a lower octane rating than 87.

Gasoline Containing MMT (Methylcyclopentadienyl Manganese Tricarbonyl)

Gasoline Containing MMT (Methylcyclopentadienyl Manganese Tricarbonyl)

MMT has been used as an octane-boosting additive for both leaded and unleaded gasoline in the past, though the majority of fuel brands today have already opted to be MMT-free due to its known downsides.

This octane enhancer is notorious for being pretty toxic when emitted, which is why most places choose to ban it completely, while the places that do still allow it strictly limit it to about 1/32 gpg Mn (grams per gallon of Manganese).

A lot of car manufacturers, such as Toyota, also don’t recommend ever using a drop of MMT in the fuel that you use, as it’s known to prematurely foul your spark plugs and reduce the life of your emission control system components.

Flex-Fuel/E85 or Any Ethanol Blend Above 15% Content

Flex-Fuel/E85 or Any Ethanol Blend Above 15% Content

We’ve already established that the Toyota Highlander is only compatible with gasoline containing up to 10% or 15% ethanol depending on the model year.

This means that any fuel that contains more ethanol than that, such as E85/Flex-Fuel, should be completely avoided at all costs.

E85 or “Flex-Fuel” can contain up to 85% pure ethanol and is a viable choice for owners of FFVs (Flex-Fuel Vehicles) looking for something more renewable, reduces emissions, and in some cases, increases performance.

However, using E85 in a non-FFV like the Toyota Highlander will corrode and damage numerous parts of the engine and fuel system because they simply weren’t built to handle that much ethanol content.

One way to differentiate an FFV from a non-FFV is by looking for a “Flex-Fuel” badge or a yellow fuel cap, as shown below.

Flex-Fuel/E85 or Any Ethanol Blend Above 15% Content

Leaded Gasoline

 Leaded Gasoline

Just like the rest of the world, the Toyota Highlander owner’s manual advises to not use leaded gasoline for the SUV.

Apart from its global phase-out several years ago, there are a few other very good reasons why you should avoid lead gasoline, such as its tendency to damage catalytic converters and parts of the emission control system.

And the caveats don’t even end with the vehicle itself, as leaded gasoline has raised so many concerns of lead poisoning in the past, which has put those exposed to it at risk of developing all sorts of health concerns. 

Toyota Highlander Gas Mileage Per Generation

The Toyota Highlander has a combined gas mileage of 18 to 21 mpg (1st gen), 19 to 22 mpg (2nd gen), 20 to 23 mpg (3rd gen), and 23 to 25 mpg (4th gen).

Highlander Hybrid models have a combined gas mileage of 26 to 27 mpg (1st gen), 26 to 28 mpg (2nd gen), 28 mpg (3rd gen), and 35 to 36 mpg (4th gen).

1st-Generation Toyota Highlander Gas Mileage (XU20) (2001 to 2007) 

Engine OptionMPG (City)MPG (Highway)MPG (Combined)
2.4L Inline-4 (I4) (2WD)19 mpg25 mpg22 mpg
2.4L Inline-4 (I4) (4WD)17 to 19 mpg22 to 23 mpg19 to 21 mpg
3.0L V6 (2WD)17 mpg21 mpg18 mpg
3.0L V6 (4WD)16 mpg21 mpg18 mpg
3.3L V6 (2WD)17 mpg23 mpg19 mpg
3.3L V6 (4WD)16 mpg22 mpg19 mpg
3.3L V6 Hybrid (2WD)28 mpg25 mpg26 to 27 mpg
3.3L V6 Hybrid (4WD)27 mpg25 mpg26 mpg

H3: 2nd-Generation Toyota Highlander Gas Mileage (XU40) (2008 to 2013)

Engine OptionMPG (City)MPG (Highway)MPG (Combined)
2.7L Inline-4 (I4) (2WD)20 mpg25 to 27 mpg22 mpg
3.5L V6 (2WD)18 mpg24 mpg20 mpg
3.5L V6 (4WD)17 mpg22 to 23 mpg19 mpg
3.3L V6 Hybrid (4WD)27 mpg25 mpg26 mpg
3.5L V6 Hybrid (4WD)28 mpg28 mpg28 mpg

3rd-Generation Toyota Highlander Gas Mileage (XU50) (2014 to 2019)

Engine OptionMPG (City)MPG (Highway)MPG (Combined)
2.7L Inline-4 (I4)20 mpg24 to 25 mpg22 mpg
3.5L V6 (2WD) (6-Speed Automatic)19 mpg 25 mpg21 mpg
3.5L V6 (2WD) (8-Speed Automatic)20 mpg27 mpg23 mpg
3.5L V6 (AWD) (6-Speed Automatic)18 mpg24 mpg20 mpg
3.5L V6 (AWD) (8-Speed Automatic)19 to 20 mpg26 mpg22 mpg
3.5L V6 (LE/XLE/SE/LTD Trims)21 mpg27 mpg23 mpg
3.5L V6 Hybrid (AWD)27 to 29 mpg27 to 28 mpg28 mpg
3.5L V6 Hybrid (AWD) (LE Plus)28 mpg28 mpg28 mpg

4th-Generation Toyota Highlander Gas Mileage (XU70) (2020 to 2023/Present)

Engine OptionMPG (City)MPG (Highway)MPG (Combined)
2.4L Inline-4 (I4) Turbo21 to 22 mpg28 to 29 mpg24 to 25 mpg
2.4L Inline-4 (I4) Turbo (AWD)21 mpg28 mpg24 mpg
3.5L V620 to 21 mpg28 to 29 mpg23 to 24 mpg
3.5L V6 (AWD)20 mpg27 mpg23 mpg
2.5L Inline-4 (I4) Hybrid36 mpg35 mpg36 mpg
2.5L Inline-4 (I4) Hybrid (AWD)35 mpg35 mpg35 mpg
2.5L Inline-4 (I4) Hybrid (AWD) (Limited/Platinum)35 mpg34 mpg35 mpg

What is the gas tank size/capacity of the Toyota Highlander?

The Toyota Highlander has a gas tank size of 19.1 to 19.8 gallons (1st gen), 19.2 gallons (2nd and 3rd gen), and 17.9 gallons (4th gen).

Toyota Highlander Hybrid models have a gas tank size of 17.2 gallons (1st to 3rd gen) and 17.1 gallons (4th gen).

Toyota Highlander Generation/Model Years
Engine/Trim Level
Gas Tank Size/Capacity (US Gallon/Liter)
1st Generation (XU20) (2001 to 2007)2.4L I4 (2WD) (2001 to 2003)19.8 gal (75 l)
2.4L I4 (2WD) (2004 to 2007)19.1 gal (72.3 l)
2.4L I4 (4WD) (2001 to 2003)19.8 gal (75 l)
2.4L I4 (4WD) (2004 to 2007)19.1 gal (72.3 l)
3.0L V6 (2WD) (2001 to 2003)19.8 gal (75 l)
3.0L V6 (4WD) (2001 to 2003)19.8 gal (75 l)
3.0L V6 (2WD) (Limited) (2001 to 2003)
19.8 gal (75 l)
3.0L V6 (4WD) (Limited) (2001 to 2003)
19.8 gal (75 l)
3.3L V6 (FWD) (2004 to 2007)19.1 gal (72.3 l)
3.3L V6 (AWD) (2004 to 2007)19.1 gal (72.3 l)
3.3L V6 (FWD) (Limited) (2004 to 2007)
19.1 gal (72.3 l)
3.3L V6 (AWD) (Limited) (2004 to 2007)
19.1 gal (72.3 l)
3.3L V6 (FWD) (Sport) (2006 to 2007)
19.1 gal (72.3 l)
3.3L V6 (AWD) (Sport) (2006 to 2007)
19.1 gal (72.3 l)
3.3L V6 Hybrid (FWD) 17.2 gal (65.1 l)
3.3L V6 Hybrid (AWD) 17.2 gal (65.1 l)
3.3L V6 Hybrid (FWD) (Limited)17.2 gal (65.1 l)
3.3L V6 Hybrid (AWD) (Limited)17.2 gal (65.1 l)
2nd Generation (XU40) (2008 to 2013)2.7L I4 (FWD)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
2.7L I4 (FWD) (SE)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
2.7L I4 (FWD) (Plus)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (FWD)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (AWD)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (FWD) (Sport)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (AWD) (Sport)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (FWD) (Plus)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (AWD) (Plus)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (FWD) (SE)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (AWD) (SE)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (FWD) (Limited)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (AWD) (Limited)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.3L V6 Hybrid (AWD)17.2 gal (65.1 l)
3.3L V6 Hybrid (AWD) (Limited)17.2 gal (65.1 l)
3.5L V6 Hybrid (AWD)17.2 gal (65.1 l)
3.5L V6 Hybrid (AWD) (Limited)17.2 gal (65.1 l)
3rd Generation (XU50) (2014 to 2019)2.7L I4 (FWD) (LE)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (FWD) (LE)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (AWD) (LE)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (FWD) (LE Plus)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (AWD) (LE Plus)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (FWD) (XLE)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (AWD) (XLE)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (FWD) (Limited)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (AWD) (Limited)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (FWD) (Limited Platinum)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 (AWD) (Limited Platinum)19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 Hybrid (AWD) (LE)17.2 gal (65.1 l)
3.5L V6 Hybrid (AWD) (LE) (2019)
19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 Hybrid (AWD) (XLE)17.2 gal (65.1 l)
3.5L V6 Hybrid (AWD) (XLE) (2019)
19.2 gal (72.7 l)
3.5L V6 Hybrid (AWD) (Limited)17.2 gal (65.1 l)
3.5L V6 Hybrid (AWD) (Limited Platinum)17.2 gal (65.1 l)
4th Generation (XU70) (2020 to 2023/Present)3.5L V6 (FWD) (L)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
3.5L V6 (AWD) (L)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
3.5L V6 (FWD) (LE)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
3.5L V6 (AWD) (LE)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
3.5L V6 (FWD) (XLE)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
3.5L V6 (AWD) (XLE)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
3.5L V6 (FWD) (XSE)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
3.5L V6 (AWD) (XSE)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
3.5L V6 (FWD) (Limited)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
3.5L V6 (AWD) (Limited)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
3.5L V6 (FWD) (Platinum)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
3.5L V6 (AWD) (Platinum)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
2.4L I4 Turbo (FWD) (L)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
2.4L I4 Turbo (AWD) (L)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
2.4L I4 Turbo (FWD) (LE)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
2.4L I4 Turbo (AWD) (LE)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
2.4L I4 Turbo (FWD) (XLE)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
2.4L I4 Turbo (AWD) (XLE)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
2.4L I4 Turbo (FWD) (XSE)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
2.4L I4 Turbo (AWD) (XSE)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
2.4L I4 Turbo (FWD) (Limited)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
2.4L I4 Turbo (AWD) (Limited)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
2.4L I4 Turbo (FWD) (Platinum)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
2.4L I4 Turbo (AWD) (Platinum)17.9 gal (67.8 l)
2.5L I4 Hybrid (FWD) (LE)17.1 gal (64.7 l)
2.5L I4 Hybrid (AWD) (LE)17.1 gal (64.7 l)
2.5L I4 Hybrid (FWD) (XLE)17.1 gal (64.7 l)
2.5L I4 Hybrid (AWD) (XLE)17.1 gal (64.7 l)
2.5L I4 Hybrid (FWD) (Limited)17.1 gal (64.7 l)
2.5L I4 Hybrid (AWD) (Limited)17.1 gal (64.7 l)
2.5L I4 Hybrid (FWD) (Platinum)17.1 gal (64.7 l)
2.5L I4 Hybrid (AWD) (Platinum)17.1 gal (64.7 l)

Conclusion

All Toyota Highlander models, regardless of the generation or engine option, are designed to take regular unleaded gasoline with a minimum octane rating of 87.

Compatible fuel types for the Toyota Highlander include TOP TIER detergent gasoline, ethanol blends of up to 10% (2011 and older) or 15% (2012 and newer), and reformulated gasoline.

Fuels that should be avoided for the Toyota Highlander include gasoline containing MMT, gasoline with over 15% ethanol, E85/Flex-Fuel, and leaded gasoline, as all of these can cause damage to the fuel system, emission control system, and engine.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)