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2012 Toyota RAV4

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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 686 Ratings for the 2006 - 2012 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.7/10
    Quality
    8.7/10
  • Reliability
    9.1/10
    Performance
    8.8/10
  • Comfort
    8.4/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

Many repairs for leaks, engine, alignments, ....

By on Saturday, February 06, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 130,000

10 2.0
overall rating 2 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
2/10
Value
2/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
2/10
Performance
3/10
Styling
2/10
Comfort
4/10

Pros: "Decent Milage"

Cons: "Where do I start...."

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

"History has shown that many 2006 Rav4 owners have been ripped-off. Poor quality and a series of recalls. Over nine years approx. 22 trips to dealer for repairs and re-repairs. My records show $10,200 in repairs. After three different attempts, and about $1000, my passenger side floor still fills with 2" of water when it rains. With less than 500 miles per month... 4 qts of oil per month."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Most reliable vehicle ever!

By on Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 96,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Fun to drive, great fuel economy"

Cons: "AUX port is in a weird place"

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

"Purchased this car for work because I drive approx. 400 miles a week and have had the best experience! It handles amazingly well in all types of weather and road conditions, it comfortably sits my family and all of our baggage on road trips, and it is so fun to drive!! My only complaint would be that the front seats are a little cramped but I am also used to a full size SUV so it really isn't even a complaint. Overall I would say this is by far my favorite vehicle I have ever owned and I have owned some top of the line vehicles. If you're looking for fuel economy that still delivers off-road capabilities and cargo room, this is worth looking into!"

20 people out of 29 found this review helpful

Love this Rav4 in Blizzard Pearl

By on Sunday, October 25, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 68,319

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "Smooth, reliable drive, solid drive."

Cons: "lacks lower lumbar support, could be quieter."

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

"I am the original owner since 2008, wanted blizzard pearl exterior, is fun to drive, very reliable, always kept this suv in top shape, service and runs wonderfully. I am sure I will miss this car but am looking to move to another category."

10 people out of 13 found this review helpful

We love our 2012 V6

By on Monday, October 19, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Strong V6, Spacious Interior, Sunroof, Reliable"

Cons: "Small Gas Tank, Some Squeaks and Rattling"

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

"We traded in our BMW 3 series after we had our first child. In that car you could barely fit a baby seat in the back and we couldn't find a stroller to fit in the trunk. I wanted to trade up into an X3 but couldn't justify the price tag of 40K (for certified pre-owned). Granted I'm comparing apples to oranges BUT I just happened to test a V6 Rav4 and was blown away by the acceleration, comfort and handling. The V6 puts out 269 HP and runs on regular gas. Even in city driving I average about 23-25 miles which is not bad considering I drive the car hard. My only complaint is that the car has a small gas tank of 11 gallons so on long road trips we have stop often to fill up. I have the base model with 17 in wheels, sunroof and bluetooth with controls on the steering wheel. Other than that, the car is no frills. Which is fine by me. The controls are easy to use, the interior is very roomy, when you fold down the seat, it's massive, the rear seats also slide forward and back and even recline. I love this car because it's cheap to maintain and it's very reliable. It's always going to start. Okay, another small complaint is that there are a few rattles on the inside. Other than that, I would buy another Rav4 but they dropped the V6 which means we will likely move up to a Highlander."

8 people out of 8 found this review helpful

My all around best vehicle

By on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 140,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "reliability and handling"

Cons: "nothing really"

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

"Comfortable, fast, economical, roomy, practical and go-anywhere. Totally reliable for 9 years and going for at least 5 more."

8 people out of 13 found this review helpful

Wanted it to be like my 4Runner, but was not.

By on Sunday, September 20, 2015

I owned and sold this car
Reason: Unreliable

10 2.0
overall rating 2 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
2/10
Value
3/10
Reliability
2/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
4/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "Gas mileage, fit and finish"

Cons: "Intermittent 4WD function and unreliable"

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

"Purchased it brand new at a local dealership having owned at least 5 different Toyotas over the years. The 4WD would not function reliably (a hassle on Oklahoma's side roads), and the transmission would shift rough quite often. Even under warranty, the dealer claimed they could find no issues. Since we only have 1 small child, we thought it would be fine for trips, but it was only similar in comfort to our older Corolla. We also had to take it back to the dealer for several warranted repairs which was free, but just a hassle. Very disappointed with the RAV4 so we ended going back to an older 4Runner which has never let us down. I would not recommend this little SUV to anyone unless it is just an occasional driver."

6 people out of 9 found this review helpful

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