The 2012 Toyota RAV4 is a five- or seven-passenger compact crossover SUV depending on whether the optional third-row seat is selected. A new redesign is expected to hit showroom floors next summer for the 2013 model year; this includes an electric version built in conjunction with Tesla Motors. In the meantime, the current rendition earns accolades for its space, high driving quality, fuel efficiency, and versatility. Three trim levels are available with MSRP ranging from $22,650 to $25,330.
All models are available with a choice of a 179-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a four-speed Electronically Controlled Automatic Transmission with intelligence (ECT-i) or a 269-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine plus five-speed ECT-i. Buyers may also select front-wheel drive with Automatic Limited-Slip Differential or electronic four-wheel drive. Front suspension is independent MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar; the rear uses a double-wishbone suspension with coil springs and stabilizer bar. Fuel economy ranges from 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway for the 4WD V6 to 22/28 for the front-wheel drive four-cylinder.
Standard features on the Base model consist of 16-inch steel wheels, LED tail lights, power side mirrors, side-opening rear door, and rear spoiler. Options include 17-inch steel or alloy wheels, power moonroof, rear privacy glass, and roof rack. The Sport model adds standard fog lamps, 18-inch alloy wheels, and privacy glass; a power moonroof, roof rack, and automatic headlamps are optional. Upgrading to the high-end Limited model gains standard automatic headlamps, power side mirrors with turn signal indicators, 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rack, and hard-shell exterior spare tire cover. The power moonroof remains optional.
The Base trim level comes standard with tilt/telescopic steering wheel, under-floor cargo storage space, trip computer, remote keyless entry, and a split second-row bench seat that slides, reclines, and folds flat. Options include premium fabric upholstery, folding split third row seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror with backup camera display, and cargo tonneau cover. The Sport model adds standard premium fabric and optional leather upholstery, heated front seats, and power driver’s seat but the third-row seat may not be selected. The tonneau cover and auto-dimming rearview mirror remain optional as well. The Limited model comes with standard dual-zone automatic climate control, leather trim, and Smart Key System in addition to optional navigation system, power driver’s seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror with backup camera, and 120V AC power outlet.
All models feature a six-speaker audio system with CD/MP3 player, auxiliary jack, USB/iPod port, auto sound leveling, and Bluetooth connectivity. The system on the Limited may be upgraded to a touchscreen audio system with navigation, Entune telematics and smartphone connectivity, and satellite radio. Toyota’s Entune program allows the user to control the car’s audio system via smartphone and provides access to real-time information over the Internet. Access to Entune services is provided free of charge for three years.
All three trim levels come with traction and stability control systems, ABS, Smart Stop Technology, Brake Assist, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, front airbags, front side airbags, side curtain airbags for the first two rows, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, and engine immobilizer. Daytime Running Lights are optional on all trims. Hill Start Assist Control and Downhill Assist Control are optional on the Base model and standard on the Limited. In recent years, the RAV4 earned “Good” or “Acceptable” ratings on IIHS tests and four stars on NHTSA crash tests.
According to reviewers, two features make the RAV4 stand out from the crowd: the optional third-row seat and the powerful but fuel-efficient V6 engine. The versatility is hard to beat unless shoppers value luxury over function.
Image Credit: Toyota Pressroom