2001 BMW 3 Series 325xi AWD 4dr Sport Wagon (2.5L 6cyl 5M)
I was looking for a small SUV when I found this jewel. I was sold by the combination of the AWD and manual transmission. It handles like you would expect a BMW 3 series would, with the amazing bonus of all-weather traction plus 30 mpg highway. This car takes me and my ski-racing kids to ski areas all winter long and has not let us down. Once the vehicle went out of warranty I turned its service over to an independent BMW mechanic. So long as you stay current on recommended maintenance. Only issue has been a water pump failure requiring a tow - $380 later back on the road with no problems. The sport package is worth it for the bolstered seats. My favorite winter driver ever.
Sport seats with heaters, all wheel drive, slick-shifting manual, xenon headlights, fold-down rear seats, BMW road feel, rear hatch window opens separately from door, did I mention AWD?
Roof rack unnecessary and noisy on the wagon unless you're hauling a Thule box. Stock stereo only average.