There is a long list of reasons why the 2012 Toyota RAV4 is at the top of many wish lists, and for most, the list starts under the hood. Two strong engines offer great acceleration, towing and fuel-economy. That’s a lot of goodness wrapped up in one vehicle.
Standard is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that offers 179 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. This comes as a front-wheel drive with a four-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is optional, barely affecting fuel-economy at all. Speaking of fuel-economy, how does 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway sound to you?
If you feel more confident with an engine that is a little stronger, you will want to opt for the 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers 269 horsepower and 246 pound-feet of torque. Zero to 60 mph is achieved in 7.2 seconds, which is impressive for this class. Properly equipped, the RAV4 can tow up to 1,500 pounds.
As far as handling and ride are concerned, this SUV comes out ahead of much of its competition. Precise electric-assist steering and a taut suspension make it a joy to drive in the city while the smooth ride is appreciated on the highway.
When tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the RAV4 received a “Good” rating for side-impact and frontal-offset crash tests, but only scored “Acceptable” in roof-strength. Braking capabilities are average, taking 125 feet to stop from 60 mph.
A unique feature in the RAV4 is its Smart Stop Technology, which determines when the driver needs assistance stopping the vehicle. Other safety features include:
The body stayed the same again for 2012, despite the fact that there was rumor this would be the year for a makeover. It is a nice looking vehicle with modern, curved lines, but it could use a little sprucing up. Points of interest include a black grille, privacy glass, color-keyed spare tire cover and roof rack.
When compared to others in this class, the interior of the RAV4 looks like it was made to be budget-friendly. Sure, controls are large and easy to use and there is plenty of legroom for five passengers, but the material quality is low quality, topped off with an abundance of hard plastic.
Seating for five is standard, with the rear set offering reclining and slide features to provide maximum comfort. However, a third row seat can be added to the Limited trim, but the third seat is only practical for children.
With all seats in place, there is 36.4 cubic feet of cargo space, but when the back seat(s) are folded flat, you are granted 73 cubic feet. It should also be noted that the cargo floor is relatively low, making loading and unloading much easier.