I would just go with a decent Honda or Toyota. Nothing too fancy, but if you are just looking for something reliable and good mileage.
I'm kinda in the same situation as you, although it won't be for another 6-12 months before I make a purchase. I was also looking at some 1997-2000 Audi A4s that were in my price range. My dads got an A6, and he hasn't had any troubles with it and it's at 130,000 miles. They are a joy to drive too.