2012 Toyota RAV4 review

* 2012 Toyota RAV4 driven * New entertainment system * On sale now...

16 April 2012
2012 Toyota RAV4 review

The 2012 Toyota RAV4 has been given a number of subtle upgrades to help it compete against younger rivals such as the Hyundai ix35 and Nissan Qashqai.

Updates include new alloys and the adoption of Toyota Touch; a new touch-screen infotainment system, which incorporates Bluetooth, a rear-view camera, plus iPod and USB connectivity.

Also available as standard on the higher-spec SR and as a 750 option on the base level XT-R is the more sophisticated Touch and Go system, which includes sat-nav and a Google local search facility.

There are two engines: a 156bhp 2.0-litre petrol and a 148bhp 2.2 D-4D diesel.

Whats the 2012 Toyota RAV4 like to drive?
The 2.2 diesel engine is strong and flexible, but the RAV4 is not especially quick, and the engine gets noisy when pushed hard.

Our test car had the optional six-speed automatic transmission, with steering wheel-mounted paddles. With this gearbox the RAV4 averages 39.8mpg, and emits 186g/km of CO2; the six-speed manual gearbox improves average economy to 47.1mpg and cuts emissions to 159g/km.

Despite its age, the RAV4 is pretty good to drive. The steering is light and direct, and it handles well. The ride is firm, however, especially over low-speed bumps.

Wind- and road noise are present at speed, without being too much of an irritation; the growl from the engine under brisk acceleration is more of an issue.

Whats the 2012 Toyota RAV4 like inside?
The interior is simple and functional, and the high driving position is comfortable and commanding.

The RAV4s cabin is solidly built, too, but it feels dated and many of the plastics are hard and unappealing. The buttons for the infotainment system are also small and fiddly to use.

Theres plenty of room front and rear with the fully retractable sliding rear seats allowing you to boost legroom or load space, as required. The boot is a decent size and shape, but the side-hinged door restricts access.

Should I buy one?
The RAV4 is capable and well equipped. Prices start at 23,340, but dealer discounts should knock at least 2500 off the price you pay.

However, the RAV4 has been around in this guise since 2006, and is feeling its age in too many areas key rivals are younger, more versatile, more practical and better to drive. An all-new version in 2013 should help redress the balance.

Hyundai ix35Nissan Qashqai

What Car? says

Mark Pearson****