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2012 Toyota RAV4 Road Test Review by Martha Hindes

2012 Toyota RAV4 Road Test Review

by Martha Hindes

2012 CUV Buyer's Guide - Top 10 Picks


Kia Soul

Cadillac SRX

Mazda CX-9

Honda Crosstour

Hyundai Tucson

Toyota's 2012 RAV4 crossover could be likened to a long and solid friendship. It worked out the kinks years ago. Now it takes things in stride, doesn't offend and usually doesn't rock the boat. Equating those qualities with a vehicle isn't such a stretch. The current generation of the automotive classic has been around for a half a decade and still ranks among the ones most desired by consumers.

Rumors persisted about a new version of RAV4 for 2012, but with the national earthquake tragedy and some quality issues interfering with business as usual, Toyota has offered up some fixes for its longstanding current edition.

Heading the list are electronics, with a new audio system for all RAV4 models. Those are hands-free capable, have phone book access and can stream music through Bluetooth wireless communications technology. The top Limited Grade can have a navigation/display audio system and Toyota's connectivity for Entune, the mobile apps and data service for smart phones, including Pandora, iHeartRadio, and OpenTable. Need to refuel the gas tank check a stock price or check who's won the latest hockey game? That information is available.

After some 15-years on the market, RAV4's presence shouldn't be a surprise, beyond coaxing other auto companies to offer versions of their own. To keep ahead, RAV4 comes in different varieties, the standard RAV4, a Sport version and top-line Limited. There are two distinctly different engines, one a 2.5-liter, 179-horsepower mated to four-speed automatic. More power comes from the 3.5-liter, 269-HP six, that connects with a five speed automatic transmission. Both come in front or all-wheel-drive and cruise on regular fuel. But fuel economy hasn't caught up with some other, smaller crossovers that have moved into the low 30s range. Best mileage for the four-cylinder is 22/28 while the V-6 is rated at 19/27. Both lose a shade with all-wheel-drive.

Visually the RAV4 is a bit of a throwback to days when most looked off-road ready, rather than having the smooth, sculptured appearance of many current competitors that easily substitute for cars with more carrying space. And unlike newbie’s without spare tires or at most a tire repair
kit or some sort, RAV4 provides a real, exterior-mounted spare tire. The Sport Grade model's appearance package loses the spare that's replaced by run-flat tires at all four corners.

For those who have towing chores, the V-6 level can get an optional tow package that will allow it to haul as much as 3,000 pounds.  Not bad for a practical hauler that starts just over $20K.

And unlike some other, more contemporary looking crossovers that have effectively designed out space for extra seating, RAV4 keeps it available with room for seven. That could accommodate quite a load of friends, the real not the Facebook variety. After all, true friendship lasts longer than the latest phone charge.

Visit the Toyota Website, click here.