I had a 2000 Kia Sportage base automatic 4x4 (there is no option for that exact car on Edmunds form here so I picked the closest. I drove this car from about 15,000 miles to 100,000, cross country and back. There are nicer SUVs out there obviously but this one was reliable and inexpensive. It's also kind of fun to drive. The 4x4 is great in snow. Also if you live in the city and park on the street you will love it. At 156 inches long, it's very easy to parallel park. I was always amazed at the spots I could fit in. Easier than a Honda Civic.
I purchased mine used 6 years ago to get me through the snowy mountains of Virginia, and it has never let me down. I drive it about 3500 miles per month and so far these are the only repairs: brakes, tires, 02 sensor (at 150k miles), batteries (gone through several of these), power window switch. Cloth seats feel cheap, but otherwise the interior is well planned and accessories are convenient. Exterior, for me, is pretty rough--it sort of looks like a beefy go-cart. I would recommend one for a new driver who will have to deal with inclement weather conditions. Easy to maneuver in snow/rain, easy to park, and there is plenty of glass all the way around so drivers can see surroundings
Love my Sportage, fun to drive, decent power for 4 cylinder, enjoy standard shift, mechanically sound. Gas milage around 19-20 city, 26 mpg highway. Do not like cup holder location, AM/FM cassette radio could be better. Overall pleased with vehicle, plan on keeping for another 100,000 miles. Changing timing belt and water pump at 103,000 miles as preventative maintenance.
We bought it as an extra vehicle for short trips (also have a suburban we love). It is fun to drive. Easy to park. Mine is an automatic. If you really get on the throttle the motor is sufficient but definitely not high performance. I have Michelin Harmony tires. It does a bit better than a 2wd on snow and ice. Forget it off road. Its definitely not a true 4x4. Maybe mine has a mechanical problem??? The ds front and rear slip. The other side seldom spins. If I can't get this resolved I'm going to try a Toyota truck. I need something that will go in all road, terrain and weather conditions.