By KBB.com Editors
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
179 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
172 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/28 (2WD), 21/27 (4WD)
269 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
246 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (2WD), 19/26 (4WD)
By Jrm on Thursday, April 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "aesthetics OK"
Cons: "Lacks of quality"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I own a 2007 RAV4 with approximately 50,000 miles. The RAV4 aesthetics OK. Clunky noise coming from the engine, when turning the wheels, and when accelerating. Also, it feels hesitant when driving uphill and in many occasions feels as if it would stall when decreasing speed (brought to dealer and found no problem; perhaps it was designed to perform the way it does). Cabin noise level is high. 4 cylinders gas mileage is over stated; the only times I managed to get decent mileage is when driving alone but if add two passengers then reduces the gas mileage significantly (passengers combined weight of 550 lbs). Rusted parts; muffler was all rusted and got a leakeage so I had to replace it (Replaced at 45,000 miles). Lots of recalls. 4 Warning lights came on affecting the breaking system; brought to dealer and found no problem (my spouse and I didn't feel safe driving the RAV4 with the warning lights on and the breaking system not working properly); warning lights came on again and dealer had to replaced some sensors (not covered by warranty)."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By David K on Wednesday, April 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Excellent in snow, no major issues."
Cons: "Spare tire on rear door."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is my second RAV4. It has never given me any problems beyond the normal wear. The only problem I have with this model is the spare tire on the rear gate which blocks the view when backing up and sometimes squeaks when there is moisture in the attachment to the the door. Excellent in snow, especially with traction control."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Mister nice guy on Tuesday, April 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks nice with lots of built in storage areas."
Cons: "UNBELIEVABLY POOR GAS MILEAGE. NOT Comfortable."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"First of all let me say that my wife and I are not hot rod kids. Were 70 & 71 and know how to drive a car to achieve the best mileage possible. We bought this as a compromise/replacement unit for my large F-150 Ford(which I sold)and wife's 2006 Buick Lucerne. Long and short trips with an occasional need for a towing vehicle for my small boat. (short distances) The Rav-4 Limited looks great and has lots of different compartments for personal and extra spare articles but that's about the only positive things I can say for it. The following issues are my complaints on this vehicle. The #1 issue is gas consumption. I am simply amazed at the gas usage of this 4 cylinder engine. We have owned mostly Buick's with the 3800 6 cylinder engines and have always got anywhere from 26-32 Highway/trip MPG with the LeSabres and even got 24-28 MPG with a Olds Aurora 8 cylinder. Our current 2006 Buick Lucerne still runs but has a high 162K miles on it and still gets around 22-24 AVERAGE MPG and 26-29 Highway. We have taken trips with this Rav-4 ranging from 60 miles, 200 miles and a 800 miles trip back and forth to WI and this vehicle barely averaged 23 MPG. Now these trips are almost non-stop (no Towns/mostly Interstate) so it's just set the cruse and go. On one trip I really milked it staying below the speed limit (60-65) and tried my best to get the best possible mileage out of this. I got 25.1 MPG one way but was back down to 24+ by the end of the 200 mile trip. There must have been a tail wind the one way. NO Power and if there are ANY slopes or hills the car downshifts and you know it is really laboring & sucking gas. I have taken the time to watch the instant mileage and know this for a fact. They claim it is suppose to get 27 MPG highway. NO WAY! The gas mileage that this vehicle gets is actually shameful especially for a small 4 cylinder car. Shame, Shame! Another item that I thought was missing was that the car doesn't have safety locks so when you get in to drive it the doors don't lock by themselves. I thought that every vehicle had these now days. The next thing that I found was there is NO leg room for an average size person. I am only 5'9" and can't come near to stretching out my legs periodically to be more comfortable. Just really cramped up! The electric seat does go WAY forward. if your a midget you got it made. You could almost squeeze a softball against the steering wheel going forward but very little adjustment back for anyone with average leg length. One more complaint is that this vehicle does NOT have a built in compass which is commonplace in most all newer cars. Last issue with this car is the drivers seat where the horizontal and vertical portions come together, your tailbone seems to be hitting or rubbing on a hard frame area. As with other honest reviews I can also agree that there is a great deal of road noise. Sounds like there is NO type of under body insulation at all. This is my FIRST foreign car purchased and can only sum up this review by saying this! Biggest Disappointment in a vehicle in my lifetime. We could NOT recommend this for anyone. The gas usage will kill you. Sincerely presented with total honesty by just another one of those everyday working guys that feel he has been drastically short changed on a major purchase."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By DEB on Sunday, March 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The size is perfect for me - I can get 5 in if I need too, and I can fit almost any large item (furniture, etc). I like the side opening back door the best, and having an actual, real spare tire. It rides well in all kinds of weather. Plenty of cupholders and storage in the front and back seats, plus extra hidden storage in the back - perfect if you want to leave your purse and go for a jog! Two negatives are first, the ergonomics. It is literally impossible to get both the legs and the arms at the right length to the steering wheel and pedals and be comfortable. Driving long distances I have to bring pillows and take ibuprofen for the aches. Its a hard car for commuting any distance. Second, the car has bad blind spots on both sides. Fixable when I attached small round mirrors to both side mirrors. Everything else I love about the car."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Norman on Monday, March 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 97,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Love the visability, ease of lowering 2nd row seat"
Cons: "Noisy inside. Needs 6 cylinder"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"I would buy another today, but they stopped making 6 cylinder. Drove the new 2014 RAV4 with a 4, and it was boring to drive and sounded noisy when I tried to accelerate."
By Halfpast6 on Sunday, March 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "looks nice on the outside, good acceleration"
Cons: "loud, rattles, squeaks, outdated"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This could have been a great car, but some issues keep it from even coming close. For one, this is the loudest car I've ever owned. It rattles, creaks, and squeaks like no other. On a typical drive I'll hear rattles from the sunroof, dashboard, some random panels on the drivers side, and the cargo area. The breaks make a grinding noise every morning when I depress the pedal. Some of the noises are so loud it makes the driving experience miserable, especially for a 2011 model. If you're considering one of these, I highly suggest driving with the stereo off so you can hear for yourself. I'll likely never buy a Toyota again after this experience. I've driven 15 year old cars quieter than this."