I was going to get a crap compact that time, but I ended up with an suv for almost the same price and I'm glad I had it. Suv or awd car with turbo is way more enjoyable and safer, but not neccessary for that trip.
Why do you think so many people who live up there drive at least a truck with a v6, like supercharged Nissans and Toyotas, turbo awd Subarus, and big ass suvs and trucks. I haven't even owned a car since I was a teenager and if I get one it's going to be a subaru with a turbo.
Can that trip be done in nissan sentra or something like that? Probably. Probably not the best idea though imo. The rental car companies have tons of suvs for rent at the airport. I just looked it up and you could get a mid sized suv for 48 bucks a day, which is about the same as hiring a shuttle. If there's not any snow in the forecast, you could get a regular car for about 12 to 15 bucks a day.