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 Butchthefireman on Saturday, October 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 63,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
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."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Kat on Friday, October 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
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."
By REDRAV4 on Saturday, October 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 105,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Gas Saver"
Cons: "Steering wheel has a knock sound while turning"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I had this car for 10k miles, I havent had any issues. I have 2.4Liter model very good in highways (at least 30mpg), in city it is not that much good in saving (20-22mpg)."
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Roe on Wednesday, October 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 59,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive. Great for space in cargo area."
Cons: "Horrible on gas consumption!!!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"Terrible on gas!! Ridiculous that the 4 wheel drive is a manual button, and shuts off above 25 mph! Cup holders to big, drinks spill on turns! Lousy stock stereo and speakers! Replaced them with better after market products. No lights for the inside rear cargo space. Back windshield wiper is to small, along with small area of wash fluid, cannot see through complete rear window. Tires had to find for a reasonable price. Horrible back middle seat, to small and seatbelt difficult and uncomfortable. As well as very difficult to pull down back middle seat divider for cup holders. No rear defrost! Spare tire has no air sensors like the other tires. Rear door opens to the side, instead of up is very inconvenient. Roof rack and rear cargo space is pretty good. Plenty of little cubby's for storage! Rides pretty smooth, but can feel the instability when on an off ramp! 2 dc plugs, but one directly in the way of cup holder! Body has good style. Difficult to see backing up! Expensive!!!"
3 people out of 10 found this review helpful
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."
8 people out of 12 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"
9 people out of 16 found this review helpful