Sister needs a new car - AWD, Manual, Small

Hey guys!

So my sister will be purchasing a new car within the next 2 months.  She will be buying used (1-3 years); she tends to keep her cars for a long time.  (Her current car, an Acura 1.6EL, she has kept for ten years.)  She is working with a budget of 20-25K Canadian - which, in for all intents and purposes, is 20-25K USD right now (although, I do acknowledge the used car market is generally priced lower south of the border...).  Here are her criteria :

- Small car.  For example, she finds a Fusion/Accord to be too big.  She prefers the smaller Civic-sized cars;

- Manual.  Almost a non-negotiable, although I am trying to get her to try the paddle shifters!;

- Performance : I have a swapped STI and she's got a beaming smile on her face every time she drives it.  She doesn't need 300 horses or anything, but would really like something with a little bit of go.  I'd say something like 200 horses would be a realistic target;

- AWD.  She is willing to compromise on this if it's really needed, but she would really prefer AWD.  Her and I sometimes drive 12 hours to the town where we grew up, and winters are pretty harsh there. =)  Which brings me to the next point :

- Reliability.  Yes, everybody wants it - but this is especially important given some of the trips she/we will be taking in this car;

- Fuel economy : Not a prime concern, but it's one of the main reasons she's not a fan of a used WRX.

Here are some of the options I came up for her :

- Subaru Imprezas are the logical choice, but she isn't a big fan of the styling and the low fuel economy for the higher-performance variants;

- Audi A4 : Also a logical choice, but the price and reliability are a bit of a concern.  A3 also could be an option, but she's not a fan of hatchbacks;

- Lexus IS250.  This is her favourite so far.  The only thing is the lack of availability of cars with a manual transmission is a bit of a letdown, but that can be mitigated with time;

- Volvo S40 or S60 : Could be an option, but I don't know much about pricing/availability;

- Acura TSX : This satisfies all requirements except the AWD one, and will be a fallback in case AWD turns out not to be an option.

Am I missing any potential contenders?  I'd love to get her into one of the newer Buicks, but I don't think they're available with AWD and/or stick.  As far as I'm aware, none of the smaller Asian small cars (save Impreza) come with AWD.  I know Honda doesn't make any, and I don't think Hyundai does either.  

So, if you see any options I haven't considered, please do let me know!  Thanks in advance for the help!

by on May 18, 2013 - 12:37 p.m.