Review: 2012 Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 has been a mainstay of the ‘cute ute’ market since its American debut in 1996. Yet, The Garage never got any seat time with the RAV, and it was high time to correct that. Now in its third generation, the RAV4 has certainly matured from cute ute status to a full-fledged crossover.

Our RAV4 tester was the Sport model, I loved the 18″ alloys, and there is not an offensive line on the RAV4, but this is an old design in need of new life. A new RAV4 is in the works, and hopefully Toyota has a more contemporary design to offer.

The cabin of the RAV4 was roomy, airy and reasonably comfortable, but I was hardly impressed with the design flair, or lack thereof. Controls and gauges were straightforward and intuitive, but this is strictly a no-frills interior. Functional and ergonomically correct, yes, but uninspiring as well. I appreciated the RAV4’s wide, flat cargo space which made for easy cargo carrying. To sum, the RAV4 gets points for practicality and ease of use, just don’t expect much in design or flair.

You can order up a RAV4 four ways-front or all wheel drive, four or six cylinders. Base RAV4’s come with a 2.5L four rated at 179hp, mated to an ancient 4-speed automatic. The RAV4 you want is the 3.5L V-6, rated at 269hp, paired to a five-speed automatic. Perfectly smooth, and packing all the punch you would expect from a crossover, the RAV4 proved to be the perfect companion for our annual family trip to the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts.

The RAV4 comes in base, Sport, and Limited trim. Our test car was the Sport, with a base price of $27,880USD. Our test car added a power moonroof, and a ho-hum appearance package that added little spice to what was an OK but bland package. Out the door, our RAV4 was $29,497. That’s a heck of a bill for a crossover lacking leather, heated seats, navigation, and satellite radio. Though I cannot fault the RAV4 for any true fault, my opinion is this car is simply too overpriced for it’s segment.

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