Good advice from other posters:
Subarus make excellent NH cars too.
Buy a certified used car that has good reliability ratings. It is a much better value compared to buying anything new when you factor in fast depreciation rates.
Another thing to think about
: It looks like our economy is going to experience a major recession or minor depression. Any while oil prices are currently very low (while we go through what could be several years of deflation). At some point in the not too distant future 2-4 years, oil (and by default gas) prices are going to explode due to major amounts of production now going off line as oil at $40 a barrel deems them unprofitable.
If you are the type of buyer that rolls their car every few years, that won't be as much of a problem, but if you are a buy and hold owner, then consider you will likely be paying $4+ a gallon and determine if it makes sense to buy an auto that only gets 14-20 MPG.
We currently drive 2 Toyota's and would highly recommend both:
1- Toyota Prius, Can't speak highly enough it. Great reliability, good ride comfort, very low emissions and fantastic mileage 47-52 MPG depending on the season. (although I'm not sure how well it does in the snow-anyone else have any experience with this?)
2- Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Also love this truck. Reasonable ride comfort, fantastic reliability, low emissions (for a SUV), and good mileage at 28MPG real world average.
Upside to this truck: 4 wheel drive if needed, 3rd row seating (only suitable for kids though, not full sized adults) 3500lb towing capacity-you mentioned you might need this. Better for the environment (important consideration for us). Stable manufacturer, good chance both Chrysler and GM will end up declaring bankruptcy leaving warranty on vehicles unsure.
Downside: Cost, retail price is very high if buying new.
Although, could cut a great deal on one of these now as car sales are VERY slow. (might also consider waiting a month or two as new government incentives for Hybrids could be forth coming)
If considering a Jeep the Consumer reports had this to say about the Jeep Wrangler Sahara "One of the worst vehicles we've tested in years".
Lowest test rating, "lacked punch, delivered dismal fuel economy, and had a stiff ride". I have no experience with this car, but they had very negative opinions about it.
Good luck in your search!!