I was in the same boat as you 2 years ago, buy needed a 4x4 SUV to get to work in when it snows. I thought about a truck, but decided on the SUV instead, as my BMW is useless in the snow.
Then I lucked out and found my 2001 Pathfinder 4x4 for $7999.00. It had 84k and the body had a few dents. I've since fixed all the dents and had some paint work done, so now its pretty close to perfect. Mechanically it has needed nothing in 14k miles
As for advice, as I guess it would be just keep looking because good deals are out there. I probably saved 4-5k $ on this truck because the paint wasn't perfect. I figured I could still drive it until I had the money to fix it. That's exactly what I did.
I bought it at the type of car lot that doesn't put money for paint and cosmetics into cars so they can sell them cheaper. I saw it was a diamond in the rough and that whoever had it before took pretty good care of it. As the interior was not worn at all and there were no leaks or mechanical problems. I knew I could slowly fix any cosmetic issues, but I didn't want something with mechanical issues that would break down.
Keep looking, there are good deals out there, just don't expect perfection in that price range. Look for something that needs the kind of work that you can do or live with.