wow very interesting read, your build looks awesome!! hopefully everything goes back together just fine
I'm new to this kind of build but from all of my research so far the 1kzte looks like the best fit for a 4wheel drive little pickup truck. i've looked at putting vw tdi's in a toyota which i just dont think they have enough displacement to handle the truck, i know that you can mod them to make all kinds of power but then the question is how long will they last being all tuned up. i've looked at the mercedes om617 which are getting old outdated and hard to find parts for and i think under powered for a 3 liter. I think you guys are onto something here.
really looking into doing this build myself. i really like the 89-95 4wd toyota's extended cab just not a fan of the 3slow v6 they put in them, a turbo diesel looks a lot better to me.