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2012 Toyota RAV4 Review

The 2012 Toyota RAV4 ranks near the top of the compact SUV class, thanks to its pleasant ride and handling, roomy interior, solid reliability rating, and a refined powertrain.

Pros & Cons

  • Strong V6 engine
  • Large cargo area
  • Great reliability rating
  • Spacious first- and second-row seats
  • Cramped third row
  • Mediocre cabin materials

Rankings & Awards

The 2012 Toyota RAV4's #1 ranking is based on its score within the 2012 Affordable Compact SUVs category. It was the winner of our 2012 Best Affordable Compact SUV with 3 Rows for the Money award. Currently the Toyota RAV4 has a score of 9.0 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 91 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 9.0
Performance: 8.1
Interior: 7.4
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.2
Safety: 9.1
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2012 Toyota RAV4 Overview

Is the 2012 Toyota RAV4 a Good Used SUV?

The 2012 Toyota RAV4 is a great used compact SUV. It has a good reputation for reliability, seating for up to seven passengers, and a boxy cargo area that can easily fit large items. This Toyota is available with zippy four- and six-cylinder engines, and it rides comfortably even on rough and broken pavement. We named the RAV4 our 2012 Best 3-Row Compact SUV for the Money because it has the best combination of quality and value in the class.

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve analyzed 91 Toyota RAV4 reviews, as well as hard data points like reliability scores and cost of ownership estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our team has decades of experience in the auto industry. Though we’re passionate about cars, we’re even more committed to providing helpful consumer advice. To maintain objectivity, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies.

How Much Is the 2012 Toyota RAV4?

You can expect to pay between $10,800 and $18,600 for a used 2012 RAV4. These figures are based on listings for the 2012 Toyota RAV4 on our site. The average list price is $14,600. Prices vary depending on the vehicle's condition, mileage, features, and location.

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How Much Does the 2012 Toyota RAV4 Cost to Own?

The RAV4’s five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be $23,500 – or $4,700 per year. That’s better than average for a compact SUV.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New RAV4?

The 2018 Toyota RAV4 starts at $24,660. This new RAV4 sports a classier interior with higher-quality materials. It also offers more advanced safety features, like forward collision warning with brake assist, which comes standard in all models. These refinements make the 2018 RAV4 a better vehicle overall, but at a comparatively higher price. If all you want is a comfortable and reliable compact SUV, a used 2012 RAV4 fits the bill for thousands of dollars less.

Read about the new Toyota RAV4 »

You’ll be hard pressed to find any new SUVs that cost less than a used 2012 RAV4, but there are a few good options at a higher price point. The highly rated 2018 Honda HR-V and the Hyundai Kona start at around $19,500, and both new subcompact SUVs have an upscale interior and a roomy cargo hold for the class.

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Which Model Year of the Toyota RAV4 Is Best?

The 2012 RAV4 is the final model year of a generation that launched in 2006. Toyota didn’t change much over this generation, so you can find similar features across all these model years. The one thing to consider, though, is what’s under the hood. The four-cylinder engine found in the 2006, 2007, and 2008 RAV4 models is prone to high oil consumption. The later 2009 to 2012 models have a different engine design, which isn’t as susceptible to this issue. Stick with these later models if you want a four-cylinder RAV4 from this generation. The V6 isn’t affected by this issue.

You may want to give the next-generation RAV4 (2013 to 2018) a look as well. These RAV4 models offer improved fuel economy, more advanced safety features, and a much more stylish interior. That said, these models aren’t offered with a V6 engine or an optional third-row seat – two features that are limited to the RAV4’s third generation.

Compare the 2010, 2011, and 2012 RAV4 »

How Reliable Is the 2012 Toyota RAV4?

The 2012 RAV4 has a great reliability rating of five out of five from J.D. Power.

Read more about RAV4 reliability »

2012 Toyota RAV4 Recalls

The 2012 RAV4 is affected by a few recalls. Toyota is recalling models due to issues with the windshield wipers, rear seat belts, and the front passenger air bag. Certain models are also under recall for a software issue that affects the anti-lock brakes, stability control, and traction control systems. Make sure these recalls have been addressed before buying a used RAV4.

See more information on Toyota RAV4 safety recalls »

Which Used Toyota RAV4 Model Is Right for Me?

The 2012 RAV4 is offered in three trim levels: Base, Sport, and Limited. We suspect the well-equipped Toyota RAV4 Base model will be the best bet for most shoppers. It comes standard with an AM/FM radio, CD player, six speakers, Bluetooth, a USB port, remote keyless entry, power windows, cruise control, air conditioning, cloth seats, and a side-opening tailgate with a spare tire carrier.

The RAV4 Sport trim adds fog lights, alloy wheels, and a stiffer sport-tuned suspension. The RAV4 Limited trim adds proximity keyless entry, push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Notably, the RAV4’s optional third-row seats are offered in Base and Limited models only. Other available features include a moonroof, leather seats, heated front seats, a touch-screen navigation system, and a rearview camera.

See 2012 Toyota RAV4 trims and specs »

How Safe Is the RAV4?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2012 RAV4 a perfect five-star rating for its performance in side impact crash tests. The SUV received four stars for its overall, front, and rollover crash safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2012 RAV4 the second-highest rating of Acceptable for roof strength, as well as a top rating of Good in all other areas tested. The RAV4 is available with a rearview camera.

See RAV4 safety scores »

2012 Toyota RAV4 Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2012 Toyota RAV4 or 2012 Honda CR-V?

The redesigned 2012 Honda CR-V is another fine used SUV. The CR-V has a comparably large cargo area, comfortable seating space, and refined handling. It outshines the RAV4 with higher fuel economy ratings and nicer cabin materials. While the Honda’s reliability rating is good, it can’t quite match the Toyota’s track record. It also doesn’t offer a V6 engine or third-row seating. Test drive both these highly rated models to see which you like best.

Which Is Better: 2012 Toyota RAV4 or 2012 Nissan Rogue?

The 2012 Nissan Rogue isn’t as polished as its Toyota rival. The Rogue offers less cargo space than the RAV4. It’s also not as comfortable to drive on rough roads, and its four-cylinder engine lacks sufficient power. The RAV4 is the better pick.

Compare the RAV4, CR-V, and Rogue »

2012 RAV4 Performance

How Does the 2012 Toyota RAV4 Drive?

The RAV4 offers two engine options: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 179 horsepower and a four-speed automatic transmission, or a 3.5-liter V6 with 269 horsepower and a five-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard with both setups, and all-wheel drive is available. Both engines scoot the RAV4 around town confidently and each supplies fine passing power on the highway. Go with the V6, which provides noticeably stronger acceleration from a stop, especially when hauling lots of passengers or a full load of cargo. It’s quite fuel-efficient as well.

The RAV4 complements its refined engines with pleasant driving dynamics. The SUV remains stable around turns, its power steering feels precise, and its brakes provide good stopping power. A tight turning radius makes this Toyota an easy vehicle to park. The Base and Limited trims comfortably shrug off most bumps and dips on the road. However, the Sport trim’s stiffer springs and shock absorbers give the RAV4 a harsher ride. The RAV4’s all-wheel-drive system and 7.5 inches of ground clearance make it quite capable when traversing snowy roads, but it’s not really suitable for serious off-roading.

Does the 2012 Toyota RAV4 Get Good Gas Mileage?

The RAV4 returns decent fuel economy. Its four-cylinder engine can get up to 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway (21/27 mpg city/highway with AWD). The V6 earns a slightly lower rating of 19/26 mpg city/highway.

2012 Toyota RAV4 Towing Capacity

The RAV4 can tow up to 3,500 pounds when equipped with its V6 engine and tow package. All other models are rated to tow at least 1,500 pounds.

Read more about RAV4 performance »

2012 RAV4 Interior

How Many People Does the 2012 RAV4 Seat?

The standard RAV4 has five seats. A third row is available for Base and Limited models, and it raises the seating capacity to seven. The RAV4 has a nice driving position, and it provides an expansive view of the road ahead. The first- and second-row seats are comfortable, and there’s ample head- and legroom for taller passengers. The third-row seats are quite cramped, though, so they’re best left for smaller children. Cloth seats are standard, and heated front seats and leather upholstery are available.

While the RAV4's cabin delivers on utility, it's neither stylish nor upscale. Its styling looks dated compared to rivals, and its interior plastics feel cheap. There’s pronounced wind and road noise at highway speeds as well.

How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2012 Toyota RAV4?

The RAV4 has two full sets of LATCH connectors for securing child car seats.

2012 Toyota RAV4 Features

The 2012 RAV4 comes standard with air conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, a CD player, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, and a USB port. Available features include a touch-screen navigation system, a rearview camera, satellite radio, a moonroof, and the Entune app suite (which includes iHeartRadio, Pandora, Bing, and more). The basic audio and climate controls are conveniently arranged on the dashboard, and they’re easy to use while driving. The optional 6.1-inch touch screen replaces some of these buttons, but it’s still fairly user-friendly.

See 2012 Toyota RAV4 specs »

Read more about RAV4 interior »

2012 Toyota RAV4 Dimensions

Toyota RAV4 Cargo Space

The RAV4 has 36.4 cubic feet of cargo space with its rear seats upright and 73 cubic feet of space with these seats folded down. Models outfitted with the optional third-row seats provide similar overall cargo space, though this room shrinks to just 12.3 cubic feet when all seats are in use.

2012 RAV4 Length and Weight

The RAV4 is 15.2 feet long and its curb weight ranges from 3,360 to 3,699 pounds, depending on configuration.

Where Was the 2012 Toyota RAV4 Built?

Toyota built the 2012 RAV4 in Canada.

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