I had a light FWD sedan during a few month stay in Madison years ago but left before the snow flew. Went back to Anchorage, where I drove FWD cars and minivans exclusively for many winters with dedicated studs or winter tires. The most important thing is the tires, unless you have a steep driveway to negotiate all the time.
Now I'm in Boise and snowboard a lot, so I'm driving a Subaru (with good tires). If I didn't go uphill so much, I wouldn't miss the AWD too much, although it came in handy during a snowy road trip last Thanksgiving across the Rockies.
I'd like ESC but my cars are older and that wasn't an option. I really like having ABS brakes.
My priorities are tires first, driving sense next (stay home in a storm in other words), and then AWD. My '97 Outback gets ~22 mpg in mostly suburban driving, if that helps.