I appreciate all the advice regarding the car that I have received so far. The two major themes, received from all kinds of quarters:
1. Jeremy, you will never be forgiven if you get a SUV, even a so-called compact one.
2. Consider Toyota first. Then, maybe Honda, VW, Mazda, Nissan, Volvo, and associated companies. That's it.
Current favorites in the car search, listed alphabetically: Toyota Camry Solara, Toyota Corolla, VW Passat, Toyota Prius.
Further advice welcomed, encouraged. Sorry for the brevity; I am already up way too late and still have more work I have to get done before tomorrow. Ugh.