December 27, 2012
Fourth Place – 2012 Toyota RAV4 4WD V6 Limited
2012 Toyota RAV4 4WD V6 Limited SL AWD. Click image to enlarge
Many of us were expecting bigger things from the RAV4. It was the only crossover powered by a six-cylinder engine (making in excess of 100 extra horsepower over the CX-5) and, with the highest as-tested price, was one of the most generously equipped. However, when the dust settled, the RAV4 finished at the back of the pack just ahead the Nissan Rogue. It is easy to automatically point at high price and poor fuel economy as the culprits that brought this rig down in the rankings, but in reality, it was a mediocre interior, bland exterior and poor chassis that were the RAV4’s ultimate undoing.
Most of us love the RAV4’s V6 power, grunt and character. The smoothness of the engine was matched by the smoothness of the ride. Even with an extra litre over the next largest engine, the 269-hp 3.5-litre V6 returned a decent 13.0 L/100 km fuel consumption average. That’s nowhere near the frugal CX-5′s average, but it is within 1.3 L/100 km achieved by the smaller, less powerful engines found in the Tucson and Rogue.
Transmission kick-downs are lazy, steering feel is numb, and cornering ability was deemed worst of the bunch. Understandably, these crossovers are not sports cars, but the RAV4 is so disengaging to drive that the task almost becomes a chore. It is an unfortunate case of the chassis being overmatched by the engine.
The interior feels dated, yet it is useful and well laid out. Materials are predominantly a variety of hard and harder plastics and the front seats were deemed the least comfortable. Rear seat space is generous and offers great legroom, but the seat cushions were too short and placed too low in the vehicle for our expert seat-testing team. The RAV4 ties the CR-V for the largest cargo area (just over 1,000 L) but has a trump card up its sleeve: a pair of storage areas beneath the trunk’s carpeted floor panels, thanks to the missing optional third-row seat and tailgate-mounted spare tire.
When the RAV4 first appeared as a 2006 model it was at the top of its game and a phenomenal compact crossover. However, time marches on and the seven-year-old RAV4 has not. As one of our testers commented, “(The RAV4) looks, feels and handles like the senior citizen of the group.” That said, if hauling a lot of stuff or a lot of people a lot of the time sounds like you, the RAV4’s seven-seat capacity and V6 options might be its trump cards.
Pricing: 2012 Toyota RAV4 4WD V6 Limited
Base price: $37,300
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $39,035