2009 Jeep Patriot Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 5M)
I have put 5000 miles on mine already and I still love it. It is a comfortable commute and a very reliable car. The CVT is a little weird at first but you get used to it, and the fuel savings is worth it. We had an ice storm last December and mine was one of the very few cars that could climb up the icy exit ramps to the highway. I get 25 MPG average but have had up to 30 occasionally. I've transported kids from school, lumber and gardening soil with it: it's easy to clean. If you can, get it with a foldable front seat so you can transport stuff up to 8 feet long.
The exterior looks fantastic and I've had people stop to look at it. The seats are comfortable and with the 4WD the car will go anywhere. The list of standard safety features is impressive.
Make side airbags standard. The roof rack should also be standard. I can live without the power locks and windows, but it'd be nice to have those too.