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2012 Toyota RAV4

Overview
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2012 Toyota RAV4 Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 7.1

In the hotly-contested field of compact SUVs, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 reigns supreme. Its price structure and resale value are on par with the segment leader, the Honda CR-V but, unlike the CR-V, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 compact SUV offers a choice of 4-cylinder or 6-cylinder engines and the convenience of a third-row seat. And, while newer entries from Hyundai, Kia, Chevrolet, Mitsubishi and Nissan may offer sportier styling and more modern interiors, few can match the RAV4's excellent reliability and resale scores.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're looking for fuel efficiency, versatility and reliability in a small SUV that also offers the convenience of a third-row seat, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 SUV is the perfect fit.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If your needs for a third-row seat also include lots of storage space behind said seat, a larger Toyota Highlander or Chevy Traverse might be a better idea. Those looking for cutting-edge features and fuel economy might want to check out the new Kia Sedona or Hyundai Santa Fe.

What's New for 2012

For 2012, the Toyota RAV4 SUV gains as standard equipment a new audio head unit featuring Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and music streaming. The Limited grade offers a new navigation radio with Toyota's Entune infotainment system.

Driving the RAV4

Driving Impressions In the 2012 Toyota RAV4 SUV, Toyota has managed to deliver car-like ride and handling characteristics in a vehicle with a tall ride height and ground clearance. Safety is paramount...

at Toyota, so the RAV4 is wrapped in high-strength steel for increased rigidity and improved ride, handling and steering. On the road, the 2012 Toyota RAV4's interior is quieter than most, although the V6 engine does sound rather harsh at full throttle, a very un-Toyota-like characteristic. Elimination of outer moldings around the windshield and door glass helps reduce aerodynamic drag and wind noise. As for power, we found the 2.5-liter's 179 horsepower to be more than sufficient for most needs, but we can't help but love the pulling and passing power afforded by the more expensive but less fuel-efficient V6.

Star Safety System
This comprehensive system integrates five active electronic safety features – enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), traction control, antilock brakes (ABS) and Brake Assist – to help avoid accidents, and one passive safety feature (multi-stage front airbags) to cushion occupants should a crash occur.

Hill Start and Downhill Assist Control
Toyota's second-generation Hill Start Assist Control (HAC) automatically prevents the vehicle from rolling backward for two to three seconds when starting from a stop on an uphill slope. Downhill Assist Control (DAC), when activated by the driver, keeps the vehicle's speed to a crawl on steep descents.

2012 Toyota RAV4 Details
Interior

The 2012 Toyota RAV4 SUV is slightly larger inside than most compact SUVs, most notably in the rear seat and cargo area. The 2012 Toyota RAV4's second-row seats slide fore and aft to make more room for third-seat passengers; the 60/40-split seats can also be folded flat to increase cargo capacity. Those RAV4s without the third-row seat feature an additional storage bin beneath the wide cargo floor. This bin is used to store the third-row seat on models so equipped. The entry-level RAV4 features durable fabric on the seats and door panels, while the Sport and Limited trim levels get more premium-feeling cloth; both trims can also be outfitted with leather seating. We can't say we are big fans of the dark charcoal and primer-gray plastics inside the RAV4, nor of the cheap-looking silver paint used on the center cluster, door trim and steering-wheel spokes. We do like the 2012 Toyota RAV4's lighted cup holders, console-mounted cell-phone holder and split 2-tier glove box.

Exterior

The 2012 Toyota RAV4 SUV doesn't share the same small and cute curb appeal found on so many of its rivals. The uncluttered design breaks from the conventional, with a triangle shaped C-pillar and bulging wrap-around tail lamps. Up front, a 2-piece split front grille spills over onto the RAV4's front bumper; on models so equipped, the fog light housings are carved into the lower front fascia. Around back is a large swing-out door (as opposed to a flip-up hatch) that opens inconveniently from the driver's side, which is the curb side in Japan. The large spare tire and case (color-keyed hard shell on Limited models) is mounted to the rear door, making it awkward to open when parked at an angle. The Sport Appearance Package, which includes run-flat tires, deletes the rear-door spare tire.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

All three 2012 Toyota RAV4 SUV trim levels have an automatic transmission, electronic stability and traction control, front side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, rear privacy glass, power mirrors, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, three 12-volt outlets, 10 cupholders, cruise control and AM/FM/CD 6-speaker audio with MP3/WMA, Bluetooth and a mini-plug jack. The Limited adds 17-inch tires on 6-spoke alloy wheels (in place of the 16-inch steel wheels of the base model), fog lights, heated outside mirrors, Smart Key entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel with audio controls, cargo area net and tonneau cover, chrome grille and fender flares. The Sport trim gets much of this plus 18-inch performance tires and wheels, a sport suspension and black-out headlamp trim.

Optional Equipment

Options for the base model include, a rear camera with built-in rearview mirror monitor, third-row seat, cargo-area tonneau cover and a tow package that increases towing capacity to 3,500 pounds. An Upgrade Value Package with moonroof, 17-inch wheels and roof rack is also on the table. Available options on the Sport include a power moonroof with sunshade, leather seats, heated front seats, DVD navigation with Entune infotainment, Bluetooth and steering wheel audio controls. Limited options include leather-trimmed and heated front seats.

Under the Hood

The 2012 Toyota RAV4 SUV provides a choice of a 179-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), or a potent VVT-i V6. The former is one of the most powerful 4-cylinder engines in this segment, while the latter, pumping out a claimed best-in-class 269 horsepower, is good for 0-to-60-miles-per-hour bursts in slightly under seven seconds. The 4-cylinder engine drives through a recently-introduced 4-speed automatic transmission with uphill/downhill shift control to reduce gear hunting, while the V6 is fitted with a 5-speed automatic.

2.5-liter inline-4
179 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
172 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/28 (2WD), 21/27 (4WD)

3.5-liter V6
269 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
246 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (2WD), 19/26 (4WD)

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2012 Toyota RAV4 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.5
Out of 10

Based on 652 Ratings for the 2006 - 2012 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.7/10
    Quality
    8.7/10
  • Reliability
    9.1/10
    Performance
    8.8/10
  • Comfort
    8.4/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

Solid little vehicle, just like a Swiss Army knife

By on Thursday, April 23, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,750

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Good value, fun to drive and practical"

Cons: "Cheap interior, with squeaks and rattles"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"Its been a good car so far. Bought is as a lease return with 30K mi and now has 50K mi on it. Good gas mileage (4cyl) - honestly the new ones don't get any better MPG at 23.9 of mostly in town driving. Good power for the base motor, perfect for around town. Very practical car and has a flexible layout for hauling stuff. Makes those Ikea trips a breeze. I even crammed a queen size mattress into this rig, no problem! Some gripes include less than stellar interior build quality with some rattles and creaks. Switches feel loose and made of cheap plastic. Brakes make all kinds of noises when first backing out and driving off. Suspension not as refined as some competitors. Bottom line: its a great point A to B car. A great appliance if you don't want any hassles."

great accel., comfortable, tight handling, stable.

By on Thursday, April 23, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Handles very well in any weather/road cond."

Cons: "Shoulder room silghtly small (for 200+lb guy)."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This medium-size SUV has the best match of engine and transmission I've ever driven. Excellent highway passing gear. Very stable on turns, esp. for an SUV. Rear seat is mounted on rails, so it slides to make the rear seating and cargo areas bigger/smaller, depending on momentary needs (just like a front seat). Clear dash array. Handles beautifully on two-lane blacktops. The all-wheel drive is unstoppable on ice, snow, sand. (I've never used or needed snow tires on this car.) Lots of electronically-controlled drive-train adjustors. 2012 is the last model-year before the RAV4 was revamped; the 6-cyl. is no longer available for 2013 and beyond."

Good solid value with strong v6 engine

By on Monday, April 20, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 115,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "low cost to maintain, strong v6 engine, & reliable"

Cons: "cabin noise at highway speeds"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"Efficient design and has great utility for size.Only complaint is highway noise in cabin.Very few maintenance problems."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

This SUV gets close to 30 MPG. Has great pick-up.

By on Sunday, April 19, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 121,600

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "gets great gas mileage."

Cons: "Minor paint chips and minor crack in windshield"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This SUV (Toyota Rav4 Sport)gets approximately 30 MPG on Highway and 24 in the City. Has great pick-up. This SUV has AWD and rides great. I've had this car since I drove it off the lot. It gets its regular maintenance (Oil Changes - 5W20 synthetic oil every 7500 miles). The tires are brand new and have less than 9K miles on them. This is a good family car and is safe to drive. Has all the floor mats and cargo mat with Tonneau cover in rear area. The minor crack in windshield has been treated at windshield repair and has remained this way since March 2014."

Oil Consumption - I give it a 10

By on Sunday, April 19, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 119,000

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
Not Rated
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
Not Rated
Performance
Not Rated
Styling
Not Rated
Comfort
Not Rated

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"We fill the oil twice a week with a minimum of 1.5 quarts. The Toyota Motor Company finally ordered a Warranty Enhancement to remedy the situation! If you have a 2007, check it out at your closest Toyota dealer! Good luck!"

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

Oil Burner

By on Sunday, April 05, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 74,000

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
2/10
Quality
2/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
4/10

Pros: "Big trunk"

Cons: "Oil burner"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"This car burns a tremendous amount of oil. I get the oil changed every 3,000 miles and have had to have it topped off twice between changes. I only drive 16 miles round trip to work."

5 people out of 11 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?