I bought a 96 Sonoma,4 cyl.,stick for $2,500 (inc. tax & fees) in 6/2009. Shortly after purchase I spent $2,000 replacing the alternator, fuel pump & engine. For a small truck (4cyl) it rides well & has great pickup for a 4 cylinder vehicle. It gets 20+ MPG, maneuvers well & easily holds its own on the interstate. At 70 to 90 MPH it still rides good and is easy to handle. It is mediocre at best as far as blocking road noise. The AC is excellent, the radio (I think it's original) plays well, and there is an extra input to plug in cell phone. Overall, I like it a lot. My wife hates it. She thinks it is too shaky & noisy, but she drives a 2007 E300.
I like it's appearance, pickup, maneuverability, & high speeds performance. The AC is great and the radio sounds good. The extra input for accessories is a nice convenience.
Not a bit of trouble except a head gasket under warranty. Change the oil every 3,000. One set of plugs, some brakes, and a clutch. Otherwise cheap dependable transportation with hauling capability. A little slow with the A/C on but she still can hit 80.
Gas mileage and the bed
Seats could be more comfortable for long rides, Also the tailgate hardware is not beefy enough