My dad is of the opinion that one of the safest cars ever made is still unsafe because we live in an area surrounded by one-star-crash-safety-rating brotrucks and 'burbans.

His requirements for a car are:

Big

Good fuel economy

FWD/AWD

Cheap (under $4000 used)

Reliable

"practical"

...

Meanwhile I want something with a half-decent power to weight ratio, at LEAST mediocre handling, and a stick. Gotta have a stick. Automatics are quickly wearing thin on me.

So basically the only things that fit his criteria are Pontiacs, buicks, Mercedes, and Volkswagen.

None of which can be had with a manual, except for possibly a Passat.