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2012 Toyota RAV4

Overview
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2012 Toyota RAV4 Review

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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 624 Ratings for the 2006 - 2012 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.8/10
    Quality
    8.7/10
  • Reliability
    9.2/10
    Performance
    8.8/10
  • Comfort
    8.4/10
    Styling
    8.7/10

Very reliable vehicle have never had a problem.

By on Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "great reliable all the time. very good value"

Cons: "could use a little longer leg room"

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

"The only thing I had to do so far was change tires and the battery. Great reliable vehicle. Fourth one I have owned,"

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

I love the RAV 4.

By on Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Easy to drive and comfortable"

Cons: "I would've like better mileage or hybrid"

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

"I sold a Tacoma I had for 10 years to purchase my RAV 4 so I would still have the utility but could seat children safely and with more room. It has never disappointed me in city or on the highway."

3 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Good car all around.

By on Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "great handling, reliable, V6 0-60 like a miata"

Cons: "no real cons."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"This is an extended vehicle (made on in Japan) with a third row of back seats available (for children primariy). It has been subject to one recall."

Best one I've had

By on Saturday, November 08, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 87,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "performance, handling, fuel economy"

Cons: "Heavy use of plastic inside. No squeeks."

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

"My wife bought a lexus to replace a pontiac. General motors quality went into the sewer so we thought we'd try something else. At 85K the lexus was still like new so I bought a rav 4, for the size and to have a 4WD. I loved it the day I brought it home and love it today as much. This thing with a V-6 is amazing for power and the sports handling is like a sports car. The seats seem hard but even on a long trip they feel like they mold to you and never wear you out. I average 26 mpg on the highway and 22 in the ozarks on the curves and hills. I have never been as happy with any car as this."

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Very Good Vehicle

By on Saturday, October 11, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 63,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Great gas mileage 22 city 29 highway"

Cons: "Safety auto door locks and headlights"

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

"Just some of the safety features such as automatic locks, auto lights, that come standard with most vehicles I sort of expected are not there. On long trips not comfortable seats."

13 people out of 17 found this review helpful

I love my Rav4!

By on Friday, October 10, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great price. Easy, fun, reliable. Just ok on gas."

Cons: "Radio display goes out at times. Pricey oil change"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"The Rav4 is a zippy little SUV with nice accessories for the price. I bought it brand new in 2011, so I had free maintenance for the first two years or so. It was a bit of a shock once that was over to find out an oil change (synthetic blend) costs around $80, but other than that, I have no real complaints. It is a very reliable vehicle and has been virtually trouble free. Please note that the RAV4 got an overhaul, style- and accessory-wise in 2012, so I can't really speak to the newest version out there. The one issue that I have is from time to time, the display on the radio will spaz out or go off completely. Not sure what causes it. Newer RAV4s have a touch screen for the radio."

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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

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