Brief car update:
The Camry-Solara - forget it, way too big.
The Passat - Way too soccer-momish! (Sorry, Lil!)
The Volvo - Ditto
The Acura - Cute. But they don't make the 200hp one in an automatic, and I won't drive a stick. The 160hp one was just a shade too wimpy. Goes into the "...but-no-cigar" category.
I didn't make it over to the Subaru place, but I intend to.
But I went and drove the Eclipe GTS. Oooh, it's fun. The instrument cluster is a bit plastic-y. But it really zooooms.
I looked at - but did not drive - some cute used Saab 9-3s and 9-5s. I may go back and drive one.
I am also going to go look at some more used cars: a Lexus SE 400 and a few others. Maybe even a BMW if I can find some in my comfortable price range...
And I must also say : I do really appreciate everyone being so sweet and helpful and supportive in the comments.(You like me, you really like me!) Thanks for being so chatty about such an un-sexy topic...