I have owned multiple RAV4s; and my family has purchased 6 Toyota cars/SUVS in the past nine years. Our feeling is that the management is profiting by diluting the quality of the brand. The 2012 RAV4 is a relatively competent vehicle, in that it handles all kinds of weather with little drama. It also has large and flexible capacities to move people and goods and very good visibility. The platform has not evolved over a decade of changing oil prices and it remains highly inefficient at 23 miles per gallon in combined driving over 36000 miles for the 4 cylinder model. The 4 speed transmission belongs in the stone age. The brand dilution is most notable in some of the interior materials and the quality of the electronic interfaces. The seat materials in the base and sport models are poor. The seats have relatively good padding but they will stain if water is poured on them inadvertently. Either the company did not test the materials or is profiting from the sale of Scotchguard. The arm rests on the doors are akin to sand paper in the summer; make sure when you test drive this car you do not have on heavy coats as this flaw will become apparent in the warmer months. Most of the interior is lower quality harder plastics, which scratch with ease. The stereo options are uninspired. In our case we experienced electrical problems just after the warranty expired and the dealership had little sympathy. As mediocre as the ownership experience was for this car, it appears the newer models are even less desirable. I look for Toyota to refocus on solid engineering platforms and the highest quality customer experience and to eschew their search for marketing gimmickry and the bottom line that keeps their cars in a constant state of recalls.
I too think the transmission feels wrong. It seems to slip and jerk more than any car I've owned before. Brakes sound as if they are dragging especially as I first drive down the driveway. The power port is inaccessible if drinks are in the drink holder. I like having a full sized tire and one which you needn't unload the storage space to access. Be sure to check the pressure in it if having low pressure readings. I dislike that you can not put longer items in to haul as I could with my old Ford that had a rear door that lifted up instead of to the side. I have yet to figure out how to put the baby anchor back in the roof compartment.
The car has many nice features and is comfortable. There are wonderful storage areas where the tire would normally be - two separate under deck compartments. The molded drink holders in the storage area and backseat doors are handy, as are the hooks for grocery bags. Seats are comfortable and have several adjustments (both front and back seats). Biggest plus in not having one of the silly little tires as a spare.
Relocate the power port located where the drink holder is - it's impossible to use both as it is now.
If the transmission is really supposed to be rough and brakes are supposed to sound like they are dragging - perhaps that should be mentioned during purchase check out. I would also recommend a complete electronics tutorial be put online and/or done during purchase. No one reads instruction manuals except me and I can't make heads or tales of some of it.
I love my Rav 4.
I have had my car for just over a year and a half and have put 25,000 miles on it.
I have to drive a lot for work and this car is perfect for it.
Its very zippy and I have no problems with wind on the highway.
My gas millage is usually around 25 MPG so I get about 300 miles per tank before I decide to refuel. It is very comfortable and I have had 4 adults on a long drive with plenty of room.
The storage space is amazing! When we went to buy my husbands highlander a few months ago they asked if I wanted to upgrade my Rav 4 to the new one, but I love the style of the 2012 model and did not want to upgrade.
I love the storage, the 4 wheel drive, and hands free.
Better screen for radio with a back up camera, which is on the newer models.
Very comfortable seats in this car even on long trips.
The leg room and storage in the RAV4 is excellent.
Lots of storage and room for luggage.
The rear seats recline and move forward and backward.
I have had the car in heavy winds and it handled the windy conditions well. Interior noise is low, compared to Honda CRV. Love 4wd button.
Reliability of the Rav4 is the best.
I looked at the reviews of the competing cars and read about the problems people have for their cars.
The Rav4 had minor complaints compared to others having significant problems. after market platinum 0 deductable warranty for $950 upgrading it to a 7/100k had to shop around for the price. 12k miles owned, very happy
I test drove the I4 and the V6.
My main goal was driving in the snow, not towing so there was no benefit for me with the V6.
I get ample acceleration from my I4 and am perfectly happy with it compared to the other vehicles I test drove.
good gas mileage 27 mpg avg, better than advertised.
I know how to drive the vehicle to get good gas mileage.
Look up Driving tips to get good gas mileage on Google to learn. The RAV4 is easy to handle and rides pretty smooth.
Great space and comfort for kids in rear seats. Safety and reliability ratings. Best overall value
If you are a tall person say 6 4 or above you may be cramped in front seat.
Im 6 0 and perfectly comfortable with room to spare. I may not call it a suggested improvement but, Curbside loading is an issue with the rear door swinging, not an issue if you dont drive people to the airport for a living.
swing door is much easier to open than a upward Lift hatch and more convenient for groceries and other general loading.