2012 Toyota RAV4 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Strong power and fuel economy from optional V6
  • huge cargo space with flat load floor and low load height
  • comfortable ride
  • responsive handling.
  • Interior has a budget feel
  • right-side hinge for tailgate impedes curbside loading
  • taller drivers are a tight fit
  • disappointing four-cylinder.
List Price Range
$5,900 - $18,998

Used RAV4 for Sale
Select your model:
See all for sale

Get More For Your Trade-In

Get More For Your Trade-In

Edmunds shoppers get on average $235 more for their trade-in.
Receive offers from our dealer partners fast.
See your car's value

Edmunds' Expert Review

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.

Vehicle overview

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.

2012 Toyota RAV4 models

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.

2012 Highlights

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

Performance & mpg

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.

Safety

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.

Driving

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.

Interior

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.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2012 Toyota RAV4.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Does Everything Without a Fuss
Central Maryland Dad,07/14/2016
4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
This 2012 RAV4 Base is my first SUV and I'm pleased with my choice. I needed a fuel efficient, roomy, do-it-all car for my daily commute, driving the kids, and something my partially disabled wife could drive, too. I put about 9,000 miles on the SUV since I bought it used in January, including a couple days of central Maryland snow. So far, this RAV4 does everything well enough and nothing spectacularly. Performance is adequate. The 2.5 liter four-banger has enough power for my commute and in-town driving. Highway merges aren't a problem as long as I'm willing to gun it hard. The power is barely adequate with three passengers and highway merging is dicey. My overall fuel economy is a pretty good 27 MPG. Braking is effective. The long pedal travel was disconcerting enough that I had the dealer re-check the brakes. The brakes work well under all conditions once I got the feel of them. The car holds the road suprisingly well, much better than I expected from an SUV. The steering is predictable and solid. The four-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly and the gear changes are merely noticeable, even under hard acceleration. I hardly notice them any more. Front seat comfort is okay. I'm 6'4" and weigh about 310 pounds. Leg room is sufficient and I have plenty of headroom, about three inches. I wish the seat had better thigh support. The seat cushions are very firm, almost hard. The side bolsters hold me in place nicely, even during hard curves and corners. All of my drive times have been shorter than an hour. I have no information about longer trips. The rear seat is surprisingly roomy. Teenagers (up to 5'8") can sit behind me and still have enough room to be comfortable. I could sit behind me and have enough room! The rear seat cushions are as firm as the front seat cushions. However, my teenaged rear seat passengers ride for short trips and haven't complained. My main interior complaint is the frikkin' noise! A lot of engine and tire noise penetrate the cabin. Road noise is so bad that I can't listen to the radio. I stopped playing the radio during my commute lest my ears ring painfully at the end of the trip. Cargo and storage is cavernous. I love it! I'm glad the first owner did not get the optional third row seat. There are plenty of pockets, cubbies, and other cavities for small things. The cavernous cargo space is a boom box, though. I think half of the road noise is amplified back there. Safety seems fine. If I don't notice, then it's probably good, right? The headlights are nice and bright. The all-wheel drive, anti-skid control, and anti-lock brakes worked unobtrusively or as expected in the snow. Win! This RAV4 is my first car to have Bluetooth. I don't know how I lived without it! I have one USB port and one 3.5mm headphone jack in the Base trim. The radio sounds okay for playing speech but lousy for music. It's the cheap base model radio and it sucks. I don't know if I would notice a better radio over the aforementioned interior noise, though. Reliability? Maintenance costs? It's a Toyota! It gets top reviews and recommendations everywhere. This is the fifth Toyota in my family and all previous Toyotas have been rock solid. I expect my RAV4 to be just as reliable. I've been driving the snot out of this car ever since I got it and I've been satisfied with it.
Mediocrity
peter,11/10/2015
4dr SUV 4WD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
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.
Great All Around SUV, Best In its Class IMO
mtayub,06/21/2013
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
Great little SUV
tnboy,06/25/2012
We wanted a smaller SUV with a V-6, maximum room for the class, and a moderate price for the class, and this fit the bill perfectly. We compared others, and none had the combination of our four main wants. We also considered the Lexus RX350 and the Volvo XC60 but didn't see $15-$20K worth of quality differences ("prestige" in a vehicle was not one of our needs).

Features & Specs

MPG
21 city / 27 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
Gas
179 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
22 city / 28 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
Gas
179 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
21 city / 27 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
Gas
179 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
19 city / 26 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed automatic
Gas
269 hp @ 6200 rpm
See all Used 2012 Toyota RAV4 features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover18.5%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Acceptable
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2012 Toyota RAV4

Used 2012 Toyota RAV4 Overview

The Used 2012 Toyota RAV4 is offered in the following submodels: RAV4 SUV. Available styles include 4dr SUV 4WD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 4A), Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Limited 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Limited 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Sport 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A), and Sport 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A).

What's a good price on a Used 2012 Toyota RAV4?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 Toyota RAV4 trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 Toyota RAV4 Base is priced between $5,900 and$18,998 with odometer readings between 18931 and270185 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Toyota RAV4 Limited is priced between $11,000 and$13,999 with odometer readings between 73435 and115694 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Toyota RAV4 Sport is priced between $10,900 and$14,995 with odometer readings between 72250 and82705 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2012 Toyota RAV4s are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 Toyota RAV4 for sale near. There are currently 27 used and CPO 2012 RAV4s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $5,900 and mileage as low as 18931 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2012 Toyota RAV4.

Can't find a used 2012 Toyota RAV4s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Toyota RAV4 for sale - 6 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $14,622.

Find a used Toyota for sale - 7 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $21,406.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota RAV4 for sale - 1 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $17,397.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota for sale - 2 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $23,350.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 Toyota RAV4?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Toyota lease specials
Check out Toyota RAV4 lease specials