I suggest you also take a good look at the Sidekicks, Trackers and Vitaras. Honestly, in stock form, you're not really giving up anything in the offroad ability department, and gaining an awful lot in the pavement ability department, plus nifty things like heaters that work well, and air conditioning
I have both an '87 Samurai and '02 4 door Vitara....night and day difference between the two on the freeway, despite my Vitara having the anemic 2.0L 4 cylinder motor (not that it's a bad motor, I just feel that it's underpowered given the weight of the Vitara on US freeways). I've done only two major modifications to it - replaced the wheels with Tracker 15" alloy wheels, and fitted 215/75/15 BFG AT tires, along with fitting a Chinese 10K winch on the front. Zero suspension mods have been done, and I've been astounded at the places I can get that thing into, and more importantly, OUT of here in the Phoenix, Arizona desert areas...and this coming from a guy that normally runs high horsepower V8 rigs on 37"+ tires out in the desert. Assuming you're not looking to do major rock crawling type stuff, a Sidekick/Tracker/Vitara can be made plenty capable for an awful lot of offroad situations with a mild 2" lift, and a decent set of tires, and still be able to run the freeway at 70mph without issue.
I've often considered yanking the 2.0L out of the Vitara to put in the Samurai, to get the "best of both worlds" so to speak, but the reality is that regardless of the power of the motor, the Sammy will never be as comfortable on the street as the Vitara will be, thus I've been looking for a 2 door soft top model 2nd gen Tracker/Vitara to replace my 4 door for mild offroad/pavement duties, and the Sammy will continue to be the harder offroad vehicle.