The safety and reliability of Subaru is excellent. Of course you are always going to have exceptions. I was a little bit concerned about the reliability of a turbo charged 4 cyclinder. I have read quotes in auto magazines referring to Subaru's boxer engine as being "bullet proof" as far as reliability. I think most of the bad tranny and engine issues are the results of abuse. Since you live in Michigan, a Subaru is an excellent choice. The WRX is a true 365 days a year sports car. As far as price go to edmunds.com and price the car ytou are looking for. The WRX is a completely different animal than a Dodge Stratus. Have you driven a WRX yet?