2012 Toyota RAV4 Sport V6 4×4 review: Sayonara for the six?

2012 Toyota RAV4 Sport V-6 4x4

2012 Toyota RAV4 Sport V-6 4×4

This Toyota RAV4 may be the last of its kind. It’s equipped with a 269 horsepower 3.5-liter V-6, and if rumors are true, the V-6 will be dropped for the 2013 model year. Toyota has already announced that a full battery-electric 2012 Toyota RAV4, a collaborative effort between Toyota and Tesla, due out in late summer in certain West Coast markets, so the rumors, if true, would leave the 2.5-liter four-cylinder RAV4 as the only RAV4 for the rest of the country.

However, we’ve already tested the four-cylinder RAV-4 and found it acceptable for most applications. The 179 horsepower was capable of moving its 3,400-lb or so mass well enough to keep up and not make an obstacle of itself in traffic. But while the four and six both have a payload (depending on equipment and configuration) of about 1,000 lbs, the V-6 has much greater towing capacity. The four-cylinder RAV4 is rated at 1,500 lbs while the V-6 can pull up to 2,000 lbs, or with the optional towing package, 3,500 lbs.

2012 Toyota RAV4 Sport V-6 4x4 interior

The 2012 Toyota RAV4 has a large central speedometer with a smaller tach to the left and fuel/temp gauge to the right. (Click to enlarge)

Our suspicion is that the take rate on the trailer package for the Toyota RAV4 is fairly low, but still, it is there for those who want to tow their weekend entertainment with a small-to-midsize crossover SUV.

All RAV4s come with an automatic transmission, four-speed for the four and a five-speed with the V-6.

The 2012 Toyota RAV4 is available with two or three-row seating. Our test vehicle had front buckets and the middle 40-20-40 seating arrangement. Looking at the room available, the optional third row would have to be an occasional seat only and only for humans of lesser stature, and when in use, cargo capacity shrinks to 12.3 cubic feet, though we expect that would be a generous measure and only with a lot of stacking of stuff.

On the other hand, with the two row version, the Toyota RAV4’s basic cargo capacity is 36.4 cubic feet. Fold down the second row and 73.0 cubic feet of stuff can be packed between the front seatbacks and tailgate. The second row seatbacks down fold to make a floor with a step in it, however, increasing the difficulty of sliding large objects into the cargo area.

2012 Toyota RAV4 cargo area

The 2012 Toyota RAV4 with two-row seating has a cargo load floor that’s almost flat. Note door hinged on right. (Click to enlarge).

Unlike most crossovers/SUVs, the RAV4 doesn’t have a liftgate but instead has a side-hinged door. The hinges, however, are on the right side, so when the door is opened at curbside, the door blocks access to the sidewalk. Such is the result of a vehicle designed for, or at least by a company based in Japan where they drive on the other side of the road.

Our test 2012 RAV4 was the Sport, the mid-range trim level between the base RAV4 and the top-of-the-line Limited. Power mirrors and keyless remote locking is standard on the base model, along with LED tail and brake lights. The Sport model adds 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lights and rear privacy glass, while the Limited gets heated outside mirrors with turn signals, a “chrome-accented” grille, roof rack and more.

Our test RAV4 Sport, though, had an Enhanced Value Package that included a moonroof, roof rack and daytime running lights, as well as an Appearance Package that includes, as its name suggests, a lot of upgrade trim items, plus heated mirrors and run-flat tires. The packages add $1,160 and $577 respectively to the base price of $27,680 for the 2012 Toyota RAV4 Sport 4×4.  Our tester’s bottom line, however, was lowered by a $730 discount off the Enhanced Value Package.