2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi AWD 4dr Sedan w/Gold-Painted Wheels (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
The STi is by far the most performance value for your dollar. At roughly $100/horsepower, you will be challenged to find something else that competes (with the exception of the Mitsubishi EVO). This car is by far the most fun to drive of any turbocharged car I've owned. Running out of corners in 2nd gear with the All Wheel Drive will put a huge grin on your face every single time you do it. There are other performance cars out there such as the Nissan 350Z that are close. But the STi offers a standard cart-your-friends around 4-door (I carry both my kids car seats in mine) that you don't get with most sports cars. Bottom line is this car is a blast to drive, and is affordable.
All Wheel Drive performance and stiff suspension gives outstanding road grip. Plenty of utility and a practical daily driver. Acceleration is excellent in all gears. Leave *everything* else on the road behind when the pavement is wet.
Folding rear seats would be a huge improvement in utility and would allow you to carry a much greater variety of cargo. A good performance automatic transmission option would be great. Improved anti-sway bars to take out that tiny little bit of understeer. Automatic mode for the Intercooler Spray.
† Edmunds.com received the highest numerical score in the proprietary J.D. Power 2014 Third-Party Automotive Website Evaluation Study℠. Results based on responses from 3,381 responses, measuring 14 companies and measures third-party automotive website usefulness among new and used vehicle shoppers. Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of owners surveyed from January 2014. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com.