30 November 2021

Used Car Review - Toyota RAV4 2012 Limited

Year-to-date the RAV4 is the second bestselling new SUV just behind the Mitsubishi Outlander, showing it continues to have strong appeal all these years on. We take a look at how the early 2021 model stacks up as a used car option.

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Toyota RAV4 2012 Limited
Front 2
Toyota RAV4 2012 Limited
R14 3
Toyota RAV4 2012 Limited
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Toyota RAV4 2012 Limited
Dash 5
Toyota RAV4 2012 Limited
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Toyota RAV4 2012 Limited
Cargo 7
Toyota RAV4 2012 Limited

The third generation RAV4 spanned from 2005-2012 and marked a significant advancement of the previous model. One of the characteristics that was most notable to the AA when we reviewed this all-new generation RAV4 in 2006 was its size.

Sensible looks

The 2012 RAV4 sits on a chassis that has a longer wheel base and a wider track over its predecessor. The increase in the size of the third generation RAV4 made for not only a much more comfortable vehicle but also made it a lot more practical.

Our RAV4 Limited model featured roof rails and smart 17-inch alloy wheels. Interestingly the spare tyre is stowed in the side swinging rear tail gate, the way this door opens can be problematic if you park close to a wall, so it is important to be mindful of this.

With the rear swing door opening this way however, it offers superior access to the cargo area. There is also an integrated plastic bumper protector to preserve the paint work when loading and unloading gear.

The front of the RAV4 is quite reserved by today’s standards and the grill is relatively small, there are also compact fog lights finished in a chrome embellisher. Overall, it has a conservative yet sporty look with its cheeky spoiler, which in many ways is reminiscent of its rival the Honda CR-V of the same vintage.

Well put together interior

The interior was comfortable with dark fabric two tone seats. For the 2012 RAV4 Limited model when first launched, buyers could also opt for a sunroof and leather seats package for an additional $1900. However, the standard seats were completely fine and have proven to be durable and have stood up well considering mileage the vehicle we reviewed had done over the years.

The rear seats have a fold down arm rest with room for two decent sized drinks, in fact all the doors contain drink bottle holders. There are also netted seatback covers to store your items and still have them visible, which is a nice touch if you have forgetful children in the back.

The factory stereo can also be controlled via the steering wheel making it easy to control whilst driving, the six-disc six-speaker audio system also has Bluetooth connectivity, so you can still connect your more modern devices for streaming.

Compared to the previous generation RAV4, the space in the rear has increased a lot thanks to the new rear suspension, which improves the space between the wheel wells by 230mm to 1.1m. Thus, allowing the total cargo volume with the rear seats up to achieve 540-litres, 35% more than the old RAV4.

Reliable performance

Most of the RAV4 models sold in New Zealand received the same 2.4-litre power plant, which delivers 125kW @6000rpm and 224Nm @4000rpm. The transmission is a simple and conventional four-speed automatic, which continues to perform just fine all these years on.

Interestingly there was a 2.2-litre Diesel engine option available and fitted exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission, although these are harder to find on the market these days.

We found the drive comfortable, light and nimble for an SUV, this may possibly be due to many modern SUVs becoming progressively bigger over the years as a comparison. At cruising speeds the noise level was also acceptable. The cabin, while simple, was very usable and conventional with all key controls exactly where we would expect them to be.

Smart off-road features

This RAV4 features an Active Torque Control 4WD system, which means that the vehicle only drives in two-wheel drive unless front wheel slippage is detected. An electronically operated differential mounted clutch system will automatically supply up to 50% of drive torque to the rear wheels depending on road and driving conditions.

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In slippery conditions a manually operated 4WD-locking switch mounted on the dash can provide maximum torque distribution (50/50) to the rear wheels if required. However, upon reaching 40kmh the auto lock will disengage automatically and revert the system back to auto mode.


The RAV4 third generation cemented its future and fixed many of the gripes that customers faced with the older and more compact earlier generations. Some may argue it lost some of its cutesy appeal, but we believe this model broadened its desirability to a larger audience, and that is why it is so popular today both on the new and used vehicle market.

At a glance

Model and year

Toyota RAV4 (2012)



Date Tested







Four Speed Automatic

Fuel economy, CO2


Towing capacity

Unbraked 750KG, Braked 1500KG



Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload


Safety features include:

  • ABS (Antilock Brakes)
  • Airbag - Driver
  • Airbag - Driver Knee
  • Airbag - Front Passenger
  • Airbags - 1st Row Head
  • Airbags - 1st Row Side
  • Airbags - 2nd Row Head
  • Brake Assist
  • Central Locking - Remote/Keyless
  • Control - Electronic Stability
  • Control - Hill Ascent
  • EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution)
  • Engine Immobiliser
  • Headrests - Active 1st Row (Front)
  • Headrests - Adjustable 1st Row (Front)
  • Headrests - Adjustable 2nd Row x3
  • Intermittent Wipers - Variable
  • Rear View Mirror - Electric Anti Glare
  • Rear Wiper/Washer
  • Seatbelt - Adjustable Height 1st Row
  • Seatbelt - Load Limiters 1st Row (Front)
  • Seatbelt - Pretensioners 1st Row (Front)
  • Seatbelts - Lap/Sash for 5 seats

For more information on safety ratings visit rightcar.govt.nz

Choosing your next used car?

An AA Preferred Dealer is a Motor Vehicle Trader that has been certified to meet our standards of quality. We recommend that anyone looking to buy a used car visits an AA Preferred Dealer. Our series of checks on used cars gives drivers peace of mind that the used car they’re interested in buying isn’t hiding any secrets.

Click here to find out more about our AA Preferred Dealer network.

If you don’t have an AA Preferred Dealer near you, find a used vehicle that has had an AA Appraisal. Cars that have had an AA Appraisal have received a 43-point mechanical check by the AA, which focuses on the mechanical and safety aspects of the car and gives an overall evaluation of the vehicle.

Click here to learn more about AA Appraisals.

Get total peace of mind with an AA Pre Purchase Inspection

When you buy a used car, you may have a number of questions about its condition and safety. An independent AA Pre Purchase Vehicle Inspection will give you complete peace of mind with a comprehensive 100+ point vehicle check by an experienced mechanic.

Click here for more information on AA Pre Purchase Inspections.

Thank you to AA Preferred Dealer Advantage Cars for supplying us with the 2012 Toyota RAV4 for review.

 Advantage Logo redo

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