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 jt on Thursday, February 26, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "read review"
Cons: "read review"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"if it wasn't for TOYOTA'S bullet proof engine and drive train this vehicle would be a complete piece of junk. I am in the process of trying to return/purchase this vehicle (lease return) Between Toyota and the dealer here in Virg. Mn. service has not been good. low quality and poor service from both Toyota and the dealer."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By wally on Friday, February 06, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "enjoyable and nice looking"
Cons: "A redesign on the console would be an improvement"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Love this vehicle. Always had GM cars, but prefer toyota by far. Good gas mileage, smooth ride comfy interior. Very much a convert!"
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By MJR on Wednesday, February 04, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "4WD/AWD, Horsepower, Fun to Drive, Sporty"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have had my 2012 Toyota Rav4 Limited for a year now. I wanted an SUV because I was tired of sitting low to the ground and I also wanted something that I could have a little fun in the snow with. This little SUV did not disappoint. The power that the RAV packs is amazing, if I need to pass anyone I have NO problems doing it with the amount of horsepower this thing is packing. There is plenty of room for the rear passengers (although fitting three full adualts in the back is a little tight). The 4WD/AWD system is amazing and handles very well. The only thing that I wish they would have done is not use cheap plastic on the inside...there is no much and it doesnt look bad...but you can tell its plastic. Overall...I know this vehicle will last 100K miles and 3 times over that if needbe."
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Brian on Saturday, January 31, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 59,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "POWERFUL AND FUN TO DRIVE; GREAT FOR TOWING"
Cons: "HATE THAT -CLUMSY- SWING OUT REAR GATE."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Only problem was water pump leak @ 19k. Dependable. Smooth. Powerful and economical for the size of motor. Hate the swing out gate.. Too bad Toyota dropped the V6. Awesome motor. In case I forgot to mention: I HATE THE SWING OUT REAR GATE. Has canister oil filter, using a filament. Very Messy. Inside is laid out very well, except the location of the emergency light button. And that darned glove box hatch binds in cold weather.... A good value....but I hate the swing out rear gate."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Craig on Thursday, January 08, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,640overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great small car with storage: good for dogs"
Cons: "Disappointed 12 year gain in car design lost 12 MP"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Traded a '97 Honda Accord EX 4-cyl (214,244 mi, 28-32 mpg consistently) for my '09 RAV4. Color, power, turning radius, everything is perfect except we sacrificed gas mileage. Went from 4-cyl to 6-cyl RAV. Best we get is 23/24 on hywy w/cruise on. Holding value, yes; great car, yes; buy another, NO, but only because they changed swing rear door to overhead and lost storage space. We have two large dogs (Lab and Pit/Boxer) Toyota rear headroom was higher and larger than all competitors (Explorer, CRV, Subaru, Nissan, etc) so storage under was vital so dogs didn't chew or mutilate. Now that area is taken by spare tire. Swing door not a problem; rather have storage."
9 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Flyinthegreen on Wednesday, December 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 91,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "One of the best I've ever owned"
Cons: "The 2012 the last year to get a 6cyl and storage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"The new Rav4's have a hatchback rather than the gate-back which is a good move so you don't have to go around the back door which opens on the right. However the drawbacks to the newer Rav4's are numerous beginning with no longer able to get it with a 6cyl. I tow a small utility trailer and a 6cyl. is necessary to do so. The spare was taken off of the rear gate and put into the floor which takes away a very valuable storage area. The 6cyl gives it a lot of pep and zip that is great when needed. The mileage is decent averaging 19 city and 24 hwy. It is small and easy to drive. Has enough height so the driver has a good view of traffic, and is easy to get in and out of. I can't say enough good things about the 2007 Rav4 I only wish I could get a new one equipped the same. It looks like Toyota tried to copy the Honda CRV. If I wanted a CRV I would of bought one. Sometimes these engineers out think themselves."
18 people out of 30 found this review helpful