See If I’ve Got This Right.
Not a lot of money [?]
Good in winter
Hatchback (low lift cargo)
Good protection in collision
Good gas mileage
That pretty much sums up what millions of people are looking for in a car.
I always jokingly say that, “If you find two of them, I’ll take the other one.”
Girlfriend may have to compromise on some of these things to keep the vehicle affordable and within budget. She would do well to prioritize these criteria as some oppose others and it would be almost impossible to meet all of them in one decent used car.
What’s most important ? Safety ? MPG ? Winter driving ? Cargo convenience ? Reliability ?
How many miles of driving per/day or week or month are we talking about ? Perhaps MPG’s not as important as one would think at first. In that case a FWD minivan could fit the bill.
We do need a price range, estimated driving distance per day/week/year, and a prioritized requirement list and also mention what items are a must and what items are only desirable.
Also, consider this. As most of us point out here in most used car buying decisions, the item on the top of the list should probably be one that specifies a used car that had the best maintenance and upkeep and some type of proof of that and one that passes a check-out by a competent mechanic. All other items seem insignificant if one buys a piece of junk.