I purchased my '97 Rav4 14 years ago with approximately 30,000 miles on it. Today it has 103,000 miles and is still going strong. The paint looks fantastic. The sunroof has never leaked. Seats still look great. It isn't a "peppy" driving vehicle but it is the most reliable car that I've ever owned. It goes in ANY weather. The amount of storage with the seats down is unbelievable. In 14 years the only repair (other than scheduled maintenance) has been to replace the oil pump. Since they had to pull the motor I had all belts replaced at that time (at approx. 85,000 miles). I've test driven a few newer vehicles with all the bells and whistles, but they don't compare to my 16 year old Toyota.
The reliability of the vehicle is my favorite feature. I never, ever question that I can get in my Rav and that it will get me where I need to go. If you are lucky enough to find a well maintained '97 RAV, you should grab it!
Frankly, Toyota should revisit the '97 design -- perhaps not the styling so much as the parts and quality of the vehicle. I doubt many of the 2012 Rav 4 vehicles will be on the road (looking as good as mine) in 16 years.