There are many differeces between the years you have chosen. 1997 was the last year of the 80 Series LC. Inline 6 engine, solid front axle, available factory front and rear lockers, etc.
1998 was the introduction of the 100 Series LC. V8 motor, IFS, no factory front locker (ARB locker available).
The 100 Series went through different motors and transmissions over the next few years and lost the rear factory locker in 2000.
Have a look at the FAQs for the 80 Series and the 100 Series. THis should give you more information and elp you make a better choice for your specific needs.
Most will say the best years were 91-97 (80 series). The 91-92 has the same 3FE engine as the 62 series and the engine has proven to be one of the most reliable engines. 93 the 80 series got some changes, addition of factory lockers and rear discs and most importantly a new engine. 4.5l inline 6 with more power which most will say (me) was a tradeoff for reliablity. The 95-97s got a small facelift,eliminating the "TOYOTA" grill and changed the dash a bit. Now to answer your question...
Most will say the "best" 80 was a 94 because it was the last year before the got rid of the grill and it had the more powerful engine and the lockers.
I will say... i love my 92! and my 'sluggish' 3fe engine.
I own a 94 vx.... 1hz engine....our streets are like a continuous 4x4 experience here..and this monster has over 542,000km and going strong...it depends on what YOU want...luxury or ruggedness....i guess the 94 has both, but mine doesnt have ABS....i see it as a plus...nothing delicate under the chassis