Toyota was a pioneer in the compact crossover SUV marketplace, introducing the RAV4 to the U.S. back in 1995. The 2012 model is Toyota's third generation of RAV4, and it bows out for an all-new 2013 model. That the 2012 RAV4 remains competitive even in its final year underlines just how right Toyota got the formula. It successfully mixes car-like dynamics, good EPA-estimated fuel economy, plenty of space, and the looks and upright driving position of a crossover. Inevitably, it's showing its age—the interior looks dated compared with newer rivals, while the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and its four-speed automatic also betray its advanced years. It's still a capable family car, though.
The lineup comprises a base entry-level model, the Sport, and the Limited at the top of the range. The base model makes do with steel wheels, air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth® connectivity, and a six-speaker stereo. You can upgrade the looks with the Value package that adds alloy wheels, a roof rack, rear privacy glass, a sunroof, and upgraded upholstery. But then you might as well go for the Sport, which gets all that as well as sport-tuned suspension for a sharper drive. The Limited reverts back to the regular suspension but gains convenience equipment including keyless entry and ignition, automatic climate control, and automatic headlights. And for 2012, the Limited adds Entune™ electronics that allow access to some popular sites like Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Open Table. If you want leather upholstery, you'll need the Premium package on either the Sport or Limited model. We'd recommend getting the V6 for the extra power it brings, but you might want to look at the all-new and improved 2013 model.