I have beat on my 4Runner again and again. It was used a lot for farm work, pulling trees down, and hauling heavy loads with a trailer. The only time it left me stranded was when I ran it close to empty. It was my fault. If you find one with no rust, get it rust protected. Any body shop should be able to help you. The inside of the doors and tailgate. The 4Runner is not fast, but it's very dependable. Stick with the manual transmission models, the autos suck a lot of power you cannot afford to lose. Thirteen hard Michigan winters have taken their toll, but she is still alive and kickin'.
The fit and finish is much better than the newer ones. It feels so solid inside, no wind leaks and it doesn't rattle to this day.
The stock V6 is a good engine, not powerful at all. Swap in a late model 5VZ-FE 3.4L V6 and you will have a lot more power. And if you want more add the TRD supercharger. You get the modern powerful engine and the classic toyota quality that made them what they are today.