It sounds like you are looking for more philosophical responses and not actual vehicle options. What is it about SUV's that you value versus a sedan? Do you appreciate the driving position? The Hatch back? The space? Sedan's can certainly have the same "solid" feel and they handle better and get better mileage. I agree that many sedan's are somewhat boring in the styling department and SUV's can sometimes have a more rugged image, if image is what you are looking for?
You might also consider other hatchbacks or consider wagon's as some of them can be fun performers while being different from garden variety sedan's. Your wife drives a family vehicle, so you could look at it as an opportunity to drive something fun. Crossovers and SUV's tend not to be agile/fun to drive when compared to lower vehicles as they are heavier and have higher center of gravity.