With recent changes in my work/hobbies and the fact that I need a car that actually has room, I've been saving for a daily driver. I love my Miata, but loud exhaust+no cruise control+harsh supension+4k RPMs on the highway+ no a/c gets a little old when 75% of your driving is 1+ hour highway trips with a 6 hour drive each way monthly. Also, it was useless this winter in NoVA.
I've been looking at a few small suvs(Forester, Mazda Tribute, etc), but I've gotten the hankering for something German. German cars were my first love before I ended up buying the Miata. I want something that can storm the highways without destroying me. I do a lot of highway driving, sometimes late after long days, so a car that isn't going to beat me up even further is needed. With my wants and needs, a German saloon seems to be what I'm searching for.
What I need:
4 usable seats
Decent Cargo Room
Able to hold it's own in the winter with good snow tires
Reliability(It doesn't have to be 80s Toyota reliable, but I need to be able to trust it)
What I want:
Something interesting, but not too crazy
200+ hp(I need passing power)
Creature Comforts:a/c, cruise, quiet
I like small cars, so no bigger than a 5 series or something.
RWD or AWD(rwd preferred)
Price Range $6-8k
What would you buy? Obviously I'm looking at the e39s and e46s, but I like Mercedes too, just don't know much about them. Other considerations are the Subaru Legacy, and maybe a Saab.