The rod knocking is caused by poor maintenance - either running it low on oil or not changing the oil properly. It's not the truck's fault. Any engine will die an early death if not properly cared for.
I have a 97 Suzuki Sidekick JX. its been a great car. I have over 200 000 km on it and the has not been one problem other than a slow leak in one of the tires. even though it has a small engine its still capable of pulling our seadoo boat. the lack of power can be easily remedied by not getting an auto in a vehicle with a small engine.
I have had a 1997 Suzuki Sidekick for three years and 1995 Geo Tracker for 2. They both have many miles and not one problem. If anyone has trouble remembering to change the oil just go to a local Grease Monkey or similar operation. They put a sticker right on the windshield to remind you of the proper time for the next oil change. I put a rod through a block when I was a young woman by never checking or changing the oil. I didn't know any better then. Maintenance is #1.
Don't blame the car. - Colorado.
$3000.00 is too much. You could buy a new one for the price. A scrap yard would cost you a fraction when installed.
My '97 JX has 150K...been through a lot of off road. Not great on highway energy, but what do you expect from a 4X that get 25mpg? (and it prevents me from getting speeding tickets.)
It is getting rust-through around the bottom (mostly where after market body work was done) and is starting to burn a little oil, but it is a GREAT RIG and has put up with a lot of abuse, heavy cargo and minimal maintenance.
The only problem is the Oxygen Sensor engine light code that I have now spent $500+ with 4 mechanics and can't get repaired.