While many SUVs have shifted away from traditional body-on-frame construction in favor of car-like unibody setups, Toyota's 4Runner remains one of few still relying on the traditional architecture. And with good reason; off-roaders generally prefer body-on-frame vehicles for their high ground clearance and trail crawling ability. So it's no surprise that, after 27 years of success with the model, Toyota sticks to a formula that suits the purists. But Toyota has not left the 4Runner to age with antiquated equipment. New 2012 models arriving soon gives 4Runner drivers connectivity and convenience on the road or the trail.

The 2012 4Runner, expected to arrive in dealerships late this month, is available in three trim levels SR5, Trail, and Limited. SR5 is the well-equipped base model, with 4x2 and 4x4 configurations available. Pricing for both is up $785 over 2011 models, with the 4x2 model now priced at $31,090. The Trail model emphasizes off-road capability and comes only as a 4x4. Pricing for the 2012 4Runner Trail climbs only $200 to $36,755. The 4Runner Limited, available in both drive configurations, tops the lineup. Its 2012 price of $38,595 for the 4x2 is just $195 higher than the 2011 Limited.

The big changes for 2012 come from improved audio and connectivity equipment. Base SR5 models get standard SiriusXM satellite radio, hands-free capability through Bluetooth wireless, and USB connectivity. Limited models get Toyota's Display Audio System standard, an option on other trim levels. The system features a 6.1-inch screen and boasts navigation, Toyota Entune multimedia and mobile apps, HD Radio and text/email to speech functionality.

Standard equipment levels on the 4Runner remain high. All have a powerful V6, 5-speed automatic transmission and a standard tow hitch receiver and wiring harness. Third-row seating is available, as are new automatic running boards that allow convenient vehicle entry and exit without compromising the 4Runner's ground clearance.

While the nearly $800 bump in the SR5 price is significant, with it comes audio equipment to justify the hike. Limited and Trail models see similar upgrades without the accompanying price hike, suggesting the 4Runner bargains for 2012 can be found in these more highly equipped trim levels.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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