One idea would be to buy your current Saab from you parents, you can still take the loan and build your credit. There is a lot to be said for the best car to own is the one you know.
If you do decide on new wheels there are a lot of choices in your price range.
A 2010 VW GTI is just in your price range or you could look at a Mazda 3, however you'll have to go back to the previous generation to get in your budget.
A 2011 Kia Optima is a good option, The Turbo may be hard to get in budget, but the hybrid and 2.4 are affordable. The Hyundai Sonata would also be worth looking at. I was available before the Optima and sold in larger numbers.