2012 Toyota RAV4 SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Toyota RAV4 SUV

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Toyota RAV4 Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.5 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 269 hp @ 6200 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 19/27 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Toyota RAV4

  • Spacious, comfortable and easy to drive, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 is good choice for a small-to-midsize crossover SUV, especially if you want a V6 or a usable kid-size third-row seat. Yet newer competitors are definitely worth a look.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Strong power and fuel economy from optional V6; huge cargo space with flat load floor and low load height; comfortable ride; responsive handling.

  • Cons

    Interior has a budget feel; right-side hinge for tailgate impedes curbside loading; taller drivers are a tight fit; disappointing four-cylinder.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 Toyota RAV4 carries over unchanged save for a newly available touchscreen audio interface and Toyota's Entune suite of Internet-streaming technologies.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (37 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

Rattles, squeaks, noises, nonstop

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Toyota RAV4

This could have been a great car, but some issues keep it from even coming close. For one, this is the loudest car I've ever owned. It rattles, creaks, and squeaks like no other. On a typical drive I'll hear rattles from the sunroof, dashboard, some random panels on the drivers side, and the cargo area. The brakes make a grinding noise every morning when I depress the pedal. Some of the noises are so loud it makes the driving experience miserable, especially for a 2011 model. If you're considering one of these, I highly suggest driving with the stereo off so you can hear for yourself. I'll likely never buy a Toyota again after this experience. I've driven 15 year old cars quieter than this.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Great so far

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Toyota RAV4

I just bought a 2011 RAV, and for me it was a no brainer. I've always had Toyota's -- so maybe I'm biased in that direction -- but the test drives convinced me. I live in the Sierras, so I need a vehicle with high clearance. At first, I wanted a jeep, but driving two of the Liberty's was like driving a car weighed down by boulders. I couldn't believe how sluggish the Liberty was....Then I drove the RAV -- the thing took off like a rocket. It was almost too responsive -- I tapped the pedal and it would lunge forward. And the MPG is almost as good as that of my aging Corolla... It could be that after a while paint chips will fall off, or whatever, as others have said. But I am happy so far.

5 of 46 people found this review helpful

Toyota has a lot of

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Toyota RAV4

Love the dealer. Hate this "SUV". I live in the northeast; I've always owned a 4WD to insure mobility in the winter months. This vehicle does not fit that bill, in the least. If you need a vehicle that needs to be functional and not just cute, find something else.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

No hill holder on 4cyl.

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Vehicle: 2011 Toyota RAV4

2011 RAV4 Limited 4cyl. 4x4. For me (6'3") I find seat bottom short and uncomfortable. Mom (5'4") loves the seats. Ride isn't terrible but still bounces around like SUVs do. Rides nicely on highway. One of the quieter vehicles. Visibility is pretty good. Storage and cargo space is great. Mom is averaging 14mpg because she drives short 3-5 mile trips to the store or doctor and frequently sits in traffic. But, it's still 3-4mpg below lowest EPA estimate. 1 highway trip 1000miles I averaged close to 30mpg. There is no hill holder on the 4cyl. 4wd model. Car rolls back quickly and easily if stopped on incline and remove foot from brake. Very disconcerting. Only thing my mom does not like.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Last toyota

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Toyota RAV4

Have a 2011 Rav 4 Limited, owned for close to 2 years now. Have had in shop 3 times for rough start and idle. First time they reprogrammed ECM. Last two times no error code registered and dealer can't replicate; so nothing they can do. Rear View camera only works intermittently. Dealer can't fix unless malfunctioning when car is in shop. Paint is poor quality too many chips to touchup. Engine on occasion has raced out of control, not a floor mat issue, but Toyota doesn't know what is wrong. Front cup holders are awful. Traded from a 2006 Hyundai Sonota and wish I had it back.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Loyal costomer lost

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Toyota RAV4

I will never gain buy a Rav 4 and I am doubting if I buy another Toyota. Bad Paint, broken rear-view mirror, pieces falling off my inside and outside my vehicle and no help from Toyota everything is a outside force they can't prove that its a factory defect. WOW Really, my car doesn't have a dent on it on the outside or inside it still smells new and just think my car just made a year old in June 2012 can't wait for another two years to see what else falls off. I have always stood up and preferred Toyota vehicles over any other brand but it seems to only be their older models. It doesn't matter how long the car runs if it has fallen apart before you can put the miles on it is worthleless

Gas Mileage


  • 19
  • cty
  • 27
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2012 Toyota RAV4 Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Toyota RAV4 carries over unchanged save for a newly available touchscreen audio interface and Toyota's Entune suite of Internet-streaming technologies.


For those anticipating the 2012 Toyota RAV4 to feature an all-new design, the above photo may seem like a mistake. However, despite the widespread assumption that the RAV4 would get a clean-sheet redo for 2012, it instead soldiers on for another year in its present form.

As such, all RAV4 models come off as a little stale compared to a host of newer crossover SUV competitors. The RAV4's interior is quite roomy and capable of seating five or seven passengers, but its design, materials and construction are of a lesser quality than what you'll find in crossovers like the Chevy Equinox and Dodge Journey. Its V6 engine is still pretty sweet, offering an appealing blend of better-than-average acceleration and fuel economy, but the base four-cylinder is a disappointment. Paired to a behind-the-times four-speed automatic, its fuel economy is below average for the class and only 2 mpg thriftier than the V6.

In light of this, you'd be wise to check out the aforementioned American competitors along with the Honda CR-V, Kia Sorento and Subaru Outback. But that doesn't mean you should completely write off the RAV4. Its ability to effortlessly make the transition from an accommodating family runabout to a cargo-schlepping pack mule can't be beat. And this year the RAV4 Limited model should stand out thanks to the availability of Toyota's new Entune suite of electronics features. So even if the 2012 Toyota RAV4 has gone a little past its expiration date, it's still a good choice for a small or midsize crossover.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Toyota RAV4 is a compact crossover SUV offered in three trim levels: base, Sport and Limited. Five seats are standard, but the Limited can be had with an optional third row that can seat an extra set of children.

The base RAV4 comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40-split sliding and reclining second-row seat (with remote cargo-area folding), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface. One can upgrade to 17-inch steel or alloy wheels. The Upgrade Value package includes the alloy wheels, a roof rack, rear privacy glass, a sunroof, a cargo cover and upgraded upholstery.

The Sport adds 18-inch alloy wheels, sportier suspension tuning, foglamps, rear privacy glass and upgraded upholstery. V6-powered models get automatic headlamps. The Appearance package adds run-flat tires and a different tailgate design (in lieu of the tailgate-mounted spare tire), heated mirrors and chrome-look interior trim. The Enhancement Value package adds a roof rack and sunroof.

The Limited lacks the Sport suspension and reverts back to 17-inch alloy wheels, but adds automatic headlamps, heated mirrors, a hard-shell spare tire cover, a roof rack (optional on other trims), keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a cargo cover (optional on other trims).

The Premium package available on the Sport and Limited includes leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat and heated front seats. On the Limited only, the Premium Plus Value package adds a sunroof to these items, while the Navigation Value package goes further with a navigation system, a touchscreen interface and Toyota's Entune system, which includes real-time information (traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports scores) and a suite of apps that connect the car to Internet sites like Pandora, iHeart Radio and Open Table through your smartphone. V6-powered models can be equipped with a towing package.

Powertrains and Performance

Every 2012 Toyota RAV4 trim level is available with two different engines and either front- or all-wheel drive. The availability of these combinations can depend on where you live, however.

The standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder produces 179 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic is standard, and with front-wheel drive includes an automatic limited-slip differential (auto LSD). EPA-estimated fuel economy with front-wheel drive is 22 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. This drops to 21/27/24 with all-wheel drive, and both estimates are a tad disappointing given the V6's fuel economy as well as the RAV4's many competitors.

The 3.5-liter V6 produces 269 hp and 246 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic is standard, and it, too, gets the auto LSD with front-wheel drive. In Edmunds performance testing, a RAV4 V6 with all-wheel drive went from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, which is better than average for its class. The EPA estimates that it'll achieve 19/27/22 with front-wheel drive and 19/26/22 with AWD. This is thrifty among V6-powered crossover SUVs.

The all-wheel-drive system sends power to the front wheels until tire slippage is detected and then power is also directed to the rear wheels. The torque split can be manually locked at 50 percent front/50 percent rear for driving in poor traction conditions, such as gravel or snow. With the optional tow package, the RAV4 V6 can pull as much as 3,500 pounds.


Antilock disc brakes, stability control, traction control, whiplash-reducing front headrests, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are standard on every 2012 Toyota RAV4. Vehicles equipped with the V6 and/or the optional third-row seats also come with hill-start assist and hill-descent control.

In Edmunds brake testing, a four-cylinder RAV4 came to a stop from 60 mph in 125 feet -- an average distance for a compact crossover. The heavier RAV4 EV still managed to remain competitive at 126 feet.

In government crash testing, the RAV4 received an overall score of three stars (out of five). It got three stars for overall frontal crash protection and four stars for overall side crash protection. In crash tests done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the RAV4 earned the top rating of "Good" in both the frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests. It achieved the second-best rating of "Acceptable" in the roof strength test.

Interior Design and Special Features

The RAV4's interior boasts a clean design with large, simple controls and lots of storage space. Overall interior quality is acceptable, but most competitors now make the RAV's interior look too insubstantial and budget-oriented. Several rivals also come with additional standard equipment.

Nevertheless, the Toyota RAV4 is a model of practicality. The rear seats recline and can slide fore and aft to optimize passenger space or cargo capacity. Normal seating capacity is five, while the optional third-row seat bumps it to seven. Though this seat is meant only for children, it is at least reasonably sturdy and spacious for them.

To configure the RAV4 for cargo, all you need to do is flip a lever in the cargo area to fold the second-row seats flat. Honda now offers this feature in its CR-V, but in the process, lost the second row's ability to slide fore and aft -- a capability the RAV4 continues to offer. With all seats lowered, there's an impressive 73 cubic feet of cargo capacity. The load floor is also quite low for this class, which minimizes the strain of loading a week's worth of groceries or makes it easy for a dog to climb aboard. However, the Toyota's tailgate can be an inconvenience when you're parked on the street, as it has hinges on the right side, the opposite of what you want for curbside loading in the United States.

Driving Impressions

Although relatively capable off the beaten path, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 is meant for a life on pavement. Its taut suspension and precise electric-assist steering make daily errands a pleasant (although not particularly interesting) experience. The RAV4 is not as responsive to control inputs as the Honda CR-V or Kia Sorento, but the Toyota offers a smooth ride that's forgiving enough for commuters who drive on crumbling expressways. Road noise can be an issue, and in total the RAV4 seems less buttoned-down and solid on the highway than the Chevy Equinox or Dodge Journey.

The RAV's four-cylinder version is a reasonable choice for most buyers, as it provides adequate power for day-to-day driving. However, its four-speed transmission and fuel economy are unimpressive, and if we were to buy a 2012 Toyota RAV4, it would have to come with the optional V6. It generates 90 hp more than the inline-4 engine, yet according to the EPA, you'd only spend about $200 more per year. We highly recommend finding the extra dough to get it.

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