In recent years, battery-electric vehicles have come to dominate the talk of range anxiety as automakers strive to extend mileage between charges. But as anyone who’s risked not filling up until the very last moment can tell you, range anxiety isn’t exclusive to EVs. We were recently gripped by it with our very own 2020 Hyundai Palisade long-term test vehicle, in fact — but what we discovered (by accident) is that we didn’t need to be.
Related: Cars.com’s 2020 Hyundai Palisade: Here’s What Our First Service Visit Cost
Cars.com photographer Christian Lantry was behind the wheel of our Best of 2020-winning SUV for the trip. En route to the Chicago Auto Show from home in Skokie, Ill., he took Lake Shore Drive to McCormick Place, a roughly 19-mile drive. Unfortunately, he says, “traffic was super heavy that day due to snowy weather, so there was a lot of time spent sitting in idle.”
With the clock ticking on an auto-show press conference, Lantry skipped filling up before parking the Palisade in the convention center’s massive garage. Come day’s end, it was back to the car … where the 12.3-inch digital display showed just 1 mile remaining on the tank. With the nearest gas station to McCormick Place a BP 1.2 tantalizing miles away, we took deep breaths and sent a chase car to fetch our intrepid photographer, should things go awry.
Thankfully, the Palisade made it to a pump — but little did we know how minor the threat was. All Palisades feature an 18.8-gallon tank, but our fill-up registered only 17.9 gallons. For an SUV that gets an EPA-estimated 19/24/21 mpg, that missing nine-tenths of a gallon comes out to nearly 19 additional miles of driving. I asked Hyundai whether this was typical behavior of a Palisade’s digital mileage readout or a calibration issue unique to our vehicle that might warrant a service visit. Spokeswoman Michele Tinson confirmed it was all according to the engineering plan.
“To reduce the possibility of ‘fuel starvation’ at a very low fuel tank level, there is a built-in reserve volume to account for sudden changes in driving pattern, pavement angles and fuel slosh,” Tinson wrote in an email. “Additionally, the auto shut-off point during refueling is also dependent on the fueling station’s pump and nozzle sensitivity setting.”
A 17.9-gallon fill from nearly empty is “a normal amount,” Tinson added.
I also asked whether this was a hard figure across all Hyundai vehicles or a percentage of the tank size, but that information was less forthcoming.
“Those specifications are proprietary,” Tinson responded. “But it varies by model, engine option and vehicle configuration.”
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Still, knowing our Palisade has a built-in reserve tank for the maniacs among us who love to live life on the edge (and those of us simply running late) should provide some comfort the next time we go where gas stations aren’t so easy to come by … though you can count me out if that trip includes “Cats.”
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