2005 Subaru Forester X AWD 4dr Wagon (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
My 1987 Volvo 240 died. Dilemma - how to replace a tank without going over to the dark side (SUV)? I did a lot of research to find the perfect car for my needs - top safety marks; enough room for 3 kids, backpacks, a dog and a trombone; great sight lines/no blind spots; good handling in winter and rainy conditions; and under $22,000. I did NOT want an SUV, as I consider them evil and everything bad America stands for. Ahem. OK, I know the Forester is considered a 'small SUV' by most reviewers, but it uses the Impreza car base, so it snuck in under the SUV-dar. And I'm grateful it did - this car is just about perfect for anyone for whom safety is key. Check out the crash tests.
Fun to drive - husband uses every excuse in the book to take my car. GREAT sight lines. Good maneuverability (the Volvo turned on a dime - Forester close, but no Volvo). Feels spacious inside due to extra headroom. Lots of cargo room.
Needs lighted transmission independent of headlights - going into a (relatively) dark parking garage without headlights on using the new-fangled gated transmission is an adventure. (Or better yet - just dump the gated transmission and make it less of a chore to find reverse).