I can't say that all used vehicles of this age and mileage will be great. But this one is well worth it. A simple vehicle but it feels like it will last a long time. The only difficulty I have is getting it into reverse at times. But I'll get used to it.
My 1997 truck is 20 years old and upon 100,400 miles. Beside the steering wheel locking sometimes when starting it, its a good vehicle. I would probably buy the same truck if this one clunks out. Toyota is my brand of car. My seat belt got caught on the outside of the truck one time and now is kind of shredding.
I got this 1997 Tacoma 3.4L 4x4 Xtra Cab with 37k on it in 2007. From the beginning, the clutch master Cyl has been problematic. The first owner had replaced the factory master and the after-market master failed me on the way from the dealership. The dealership did nothing to correct the problem. They topped off the fluid and I was stranded a few days later in the middle of nowhere. I stock all fluids under the hood so I got out of the swamp. I have replaced the clutch master 4 times in the last 8 years. Other than that this truck has been bullet proof.
This truck is a good truck. I have kept up with 5k oil changes. I don't hole-shot it but when I have needed it to get out of the way of something or pull itself out of some mess, it has not had any issues. It gets the advertised mileage even with 240k (update 5/17, 264+00). It looks good but for some dings that were on it when I got it. The paint suffers from being under trees and I might repaint it. (update Nov 2016; prepped the truck as if I were going to shoot it in a paint booth and then painted it with Rustoleum Bedliner. It has worked out well. The surface is strong and the underbrush hasn't scared it at all. Big positive is that this paint cures in 72 hours unlike standard automotive or hobby paint which can take up to 30 days)
I recommend anything from the Toyota truck line. I have friends with 2003, 2014 and 2016 Tacomas -- none of them are any less reliable. I have replaced the starter, alternator, clutch, serpentine belt, timing belt, water pump, radiator, front and rear breaks with rotors, front struts, rear shocks and floor mats. Note that the recoil on the seatbelts will not be strong enough to retract the belt unless you feed it back. It has quick trap lock on the belt but if you pull the belt too fast it will lock before you can fasten it.
I spent years at sea as a captain and so I tend to look ahead on maintenance. I am sure I would have been just as well without a lot of the renewed parts... but I am very confident in this truck.
I purchased my 1997 Toyota Tacoma LX V6 Extra Cab in '99 with 67,000 miles on it. Today, it has 272,000 miles. I've only replaced the radiator, O2 sensor, a ball bearing joint, and the starter, as well as, the normal required maintenance such as timing belts. It is a true work horse, and a remarkable automobile for reliability and function considering the other vehicles I've witnessed. I've been offered by three different individuals on separate occasions to buy it from me. It's not going to happen.
With the V6, it has a lot of get up and go. It always surprises friends and family who borrow it. Good gas mileage; can actually squeeze 5 people in; I added aluminum wheels which makes the truck look sharp.
The only thing that I don't like is the turning radius.
I bought my Tacoma new, it now has 190K and still running strong. I have never had any problems with this truck; actually it has required very little maintenance. Very well build. It gets excellent gas mileage.