I have replaced the head gaskets twice; when I had valve jobs done when I first bought the truck, and again at about 250,000 miles.
Yes this engine has some issues with the V-6 3.0 VZE, but I have driven this truck every day for the last 5 years and had no complaints for the amount of hard driving work I get out of it.
The starter has been replaced and I have gone through a set of tires.
It rides like a truck, but it is dependable and I can count on it to get me through rough terrain in the desert in 4wd or 2wd.
Brake power booster went out, and I found a good used one online. Parts still can be found cheap online or junk yards (forget dealers) and find yourself a good honest mechanic.
Yes it is a bit under powered and under MPG than I wish, but it is still much less expensive than a buying a new car or new car payments.
Body is in good shape, and I get offers to buy it, and I tell them it is not for sale.
The head gasket issue has been solved by replacing the head gaskets with a newer much better quality gasket material than the OEM gaskets, which were inferior to begin with.
What do you expect from an older vehicle? Yes it is going to cost money to maintain, but it all depends who you go to for repairs. The days of finding an honest mechanic that will not rape you are almost gone.
The 4Runner has been improved over the years, but the new asking price is too much for honest hard working folks. That is why most buy used older 4Runners and then find that the 4Runner is a hard working truck, but high cost maintenance queen when it is time for repairs. Durability and reliability, knowing that there are some issues is the key, and just realize that nothing is forever, especially material things that we push hard at 65 mph plus, and brake hard and forget to change oil and filters regularly... Parts are ridiculously too expensive, just because they can charge you that much. That is the common problem in America right now; greed and unethical people.