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 LINDA on Monday, September 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 49,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "NICE TO DRIVE"
Cons: "OLDER SHORTER RAV4 WAS MORE FUN TO DRIVE"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I BOUGHT THIS CAR ON A WHIM….NEVER MEANT TO SPEND SO MUCH. IT HAS BEEN WORTH EVERY PENNY. AND…..SOMEONE RECENTLY HIT ME IN THE REAR, A HARD BLOW…..THIS CAR KEPT ME INJURY FREE. BIG PLUS! COMFORTABLE, RELIABLE, EVERY OPTION BUT BLUETOOTH AND BACKUP CAMERA, I LOVE IT. I DID NOT RATE IT A 10 IN EVERY CATEGORY FOR TWO REASONS; ONE I EXPECTED BETTER GAS MILEAGE. TOYOTA CAN DO MUCH BETTER, EVEN WITH MY V6. TWO, IT SHOULD BE A BETTER FIT FOR A SHORT DRIVER. IT WORKS OK FOR ME, I AM SHORT, BUT I NOTICED A SHORTER FRIEND GETS RIGHT UP UNDER THE STEERING WHEEL. NOT GOOD."
6 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By grace on Monday, August 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 147,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "spacious for a family of 4"
Cons: "automatic locks went out quick"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I over paid for this car, the automatic locks went out in the first 3 years...the back door has no handle and must be opened by the automatic locks that are no longer working.It has had quite a bit of recalls. Other than that the car is reliable and comfortable"
8 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By txbirdfarmer on Friday, August 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Love features, fun to drive, roomy, well made"
Cons: "small bkup camera image, no usb, no stereo mute"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Love love love my 2009 RAV4 Ltd in Blizzard Pearl. Bought it new off the showroom floor. Probably paid a little much, but I don't care (my husband does, but it's not his)! Is loaded. Drives well has great features and I LIKE the rear door that opens to the side. I am a woman, and only 5'1", so side open rear door is a super plus. Rear door does open to the right (curb in America), but doesn't bother me. The ltd's touch-open unlock door feature is great. Equipped with fog lights. Decent size glove compartment, also lockable - no light in it. Additional smaller storage compartment on dash above glove compartment. Storage under center armrest. Good size, 2 compartments: large, deep one with additional standard cigarette-type charger outlet, smaller compartment directly under arm rest for pens, change, etc. Lots of drink holders - great features. All doors have one, 2 in center console, 2 in drop-down center of backseat. Love touch-dial/button AC/Heat controls. Dual A/C controls. A/C fast to cool & is really cold, even in extreme Texas heat. Heat equally responsive. Dropdown sunglass holder holds standard size sunglasses, but not oversized or wraparound sport models. Auto on makeup mirror lights, both sides activated upon sliding open mirror cover. If visor is left down & makeup mirrors are left open, lights go out automatically when car is shut off to avoid draining battery. Auto Sunroof -- love it. Upgraded JVC stereo & 7 speaker system is great. Multiple CD, but I don't use. Satellite radio compatible. Has 120V electrical plug behind center console & I believe also one in cargo compartment as well. Bluetooth also. Steering wheel equipped with stereo, bluetooth controls. Good leg room in front and back seats. Rear seats are independently adjustable - forward/backward & a slight adjustment in recline (an important feature - I've made long trips in an SUV without this feature & it is horrible on a bad back). Both rear seats fold flat increasing the rear's already roomy storage/carry capacity. There is even room on floor between rear & front seats for items when the rear seats are folded down. I have hauled a very large bird cage, suitcases, and bags and bags of stuff on a trip with no problem. I have leather seats - love them. With the leather package comes electric driver seat controls include adj lumbar, recline, height, seat tilt. Heated seats. Blind spots are virtually non-existant when driving & with backup camera (appears in left side of rear-view mirror). Many people complain about the rear tire mounted on the back. I like it there. Mounted on the back allows for an extra storage compartment (actually 2) under the rear cargo floor. Additionally, if you are hit from behind (or back into something) you do not do damage to the rear door like if there were no tire mounted there! It happened to me - no door damage, replaced the rear tire cover only! Body integrity is great. I did have another make of car at one time that would dent if you looked at it wrong! Would change very little. Recommended changes/additions: * Larger backup camera image -- with/without navigation package * Audible Warning system when vehicle gets too close to objects -- rear & rear sides (Jeep has this feature). * Glove compartment light * Mute button for stereo on steering wheel * USB port * Ipod/MP3 player/phone interface. I love this vehicle and would buy another in a heartbeat! NOTE: I recently drove a loaner 2014/2015 RAV4 from the dealership. It was nice, but I liked mine better! The only feature I liked more was the large backup camera screen in the dash! I HATED the rear cargo door that opened upward! It was heavy, hard to reach (I'm only 5'1") and really hard to pull down. They will not be selling these new RAV4s to short, handicapped, elderly or people with health issues."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Joe on Sunday, August 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good price for $$"
Cons: "Does not have a navigation system built in"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Exterior paint - metallic blue - maintains its luster after 5 years. Interior is comfortable. Cargo is ample. Handles well in short and long rides. Has never failed us."
9 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By clyde on Monday, July 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Engine seems reliable"
Cons: "Rest of car problematic"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"Had to change O2 sensor at 38,000 miles ($300)and water pump at 45000 ($430) Toyota wouldn't back their product. Both prices lower than they would have been if I had the work done at a dealership. Some people were charged $1400 to change water pump at a dealership. Was told at dealership I needed new struts and shocks while they were doing a recall. I was told they were shot. Took it to my mechanic and he said they both have 30,000 miles left on them, go figure!"
7 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By MK1 on Sunday, July 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very dependable, low maintainace, not bad on gas"
Cons: "None, would buy again-extremely happy with veh."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Excellent condition, very well taken care of, all service work completed at dealer. mileage records available. extremely clean, warranty to 100,000, Interior fabric protected,auto winter start, great starter, crystal fusion front glass protection, Very very clean!"
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful