So as much as I love the Prius, I've decided to buy an Impreza.
At my salary, my very new salary, my very young salary, my "lowest paid assistant professor in the state salary," it makes more sense to buy the cheaper car that gets better highway mileage. That way I can drive up to the big fancy research institutions more easily, and probably pay off this car in 3 years.
I do still want a Prius. But I think it would be better for me to wait and get one when I have more money.
But the good part of it is that I think a Prius will join my family-- after the test drive my father was really impressed! So although there may not be a Prius in muse's future, there may be a Prius in muse's family, which muse would get to drive now and then.
Thanks for all your suggestions and recommendations. The Mazda 3 was also a great car, but the Subaru has four wheel drive.