$10,707 - $14,479

2012 Toyota RAV4 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Toyota RAV4 was new.


Performance: 8.1

The 2012 Toyota RAV4 is well-liked for its car-like performance, though it isn’t as refined as the Honda CR-V. Its optional V6 engine also pushes it ahead of competitors based on power alone. However, it doesn't provide the most fun driving experience. For more fun on twisty roads, you could upgrade to the Sport model or choose the V6 engine.

  • "The RAV4 is not as responsive to control inputs as the Honda CR-V or Kia Sorento, but the Toyota does offer a smooth ride that's forgiving enough for commuters who drive on crumbling expressways. Road noise can be an issue at times, but wind noise is well controlled." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The RAV4's four-cylinder base engine jumped from 2.4 to 2.5 liters in 2009, boosting its output to 179 horsepower and making it more appealing to those who found it underpowered in the past. However, if you plan on towing, it may be worth opting for the 269-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. If you can afford the price increase, reviewers say the V6 engine is well worth the upgrade.

The EPA rates the four-cylinder, two-wheel drive model at 22/28 mpg city/highway when paired with its standard four-speed automatic transmission, and the all-wheel drive, four-cylinder at 21/27 mpg, which also has a four-speed automatic. V6 models net a respectable 19/26 mpg with all-wheel drive and 19/27 mpg with two-wheel drive. All V6 models have a five-speed automatic transmission.

  • "Superb power yet great fuel economy from optional V6." -- Edmunds
  • "Out on the interstate, the six is a good performer and makes nice sounds when pushed. Otherwise, it is subdued. There is some wind and road noise, but not an unusual amount for this price class." -- MarketWatch
  • "With front-wheel drive, the 4-cylinder engine provides good power from a stop. Highway passing and merging response is also better than expected. The 4-speed automatic transmission is slightly hesitant to downshift for more power. The V6 combines with a responsive transmission to provide impressively strong acceleration. … One test V6 RAV4 suffered touchy throttle action and jerky low-speed shifts." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

Test drivers say the 2012 Toyota RAV4 strikes a good balance of comfort and agility in its handling, making it an able suburban runner. But some note that the Sport model sacrifices some comfort for a more aggressive driving experience. Reviewers say the brakes are strong.

  • “Its taut suspension and precise electric-assist steering make daily errands a pleasant (although not particularly interesting) experience." -- Edmunds
  • "RAV4s have responsive steering and fine straight-line stability but display some noseplow and body lean in fast, sharp turns. Sport models' sport suspension is more adept at handling twisty roads. The brakes provide good stopping control and pedal feel." -- Consumer Guide

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