Ok, if you are set on doing this a 4cyl 2wd 5 speed s10 is easy and will not be terrible on fuel for this or as a dd winter beater later. There are tons of 90's 2.5 and 2.2's out there under $1200. Parts are dirt cheap pre94 and every part is replaceable at any parts store.
I personally do not like rangers but that is me. Larger trucks will generally cost more then the smaller ones. But if you can get one and that works for this and future uses like as a wood truck great.