MB 190E 1.8 and 2.0 petrol
Don't rush out and look for a 190E 1.8 and 190E 2.0 because those models where never imported to North America. If you are looking for a petrol or gas 190 then the choices are the 2.3, 2.3 16V, and the 2.6.
I think that a 190E is a good choice because of it's good size, performance, and modern styling. The 190E's are great cars to drive around town, they fit into tight parking spots very nicely, and that's one of the reasons the Baby Benz was such a hit in Europe. If you are concerned that the gas engined 190E's are too fast then look into a diesel model, they aren't nearly as common as the gas models.
W124's and W123's are also great choices. A 300E or a 1987 300D Turbo are very nice cars that might fit your budget. A diesel W123 is a great car but your daughter might not like them because sluggishness and their age. I don't think that a slow car equals a safe car. But who knows maybe a W123 will grow on her