If you want a camera that's similar in size to the FE but that offers a faster shutter speed and TTL, your two options in older Nikon bodies are the FE2 and the FA. Both excellent cameras. The FA has the first matrix metering ever put into a 35mm body, and from all accounts the metering is excellent in horizontal orientation and very good in vertical. The FE2 does not have Matrix metering; it's limited to manual and aperture priority.

I have the FE2, and have had it since the month after it was first released. Top shutter speed of 1/4000, flash sync at 1/250, stepless shutter speeds from 1/4000 to 8 seconds (advertised, although mine easily goes beyond 60 seconds accurately) in aperture priority mode, marked speeds from 1/4000 to 8 seconds. The FE-2 has match-needle meter display that's not bad except in very low light. There are three focusing screens available for it. And it does TTL flash amazingly well. I've set up some very complex flash situations using the Nikon flash extension cords and multiple TTL-capable flashes, and the camera has been a champ.

Downside: Without batteries, you shoot at either 1/250 or bulb. But in all of the years I've owned the camera, this has never caused me a bit of trouble. Extra batteries for the camera take up no appreciable room in a bag (or pocket, but put them in something if you carry them this way) and I always have extras with me. Very cheap insurance.

The FA uses an LCD readout for the meter, and offers "P" and "S" modes (Matrix metered program and shutter priority) in addition to aperture priority and manual. The FA is one of the only bodies that uses the extra features of the Ai-s lenses over the Ai lenses (the camera knows whether the lens is a longer lens or not, and adjusts the program metering appropriately). Both will mount and use the same set of lenses (Nikon Ai, Ai-s, and any Nikon AF that has an aperture ring - therefore any non-G AF lenses).

If you want to stay with a body that's similar in size to the FE, then the FE-2 or the FA are your best choices. If you're willing to go to something heavier, then an F3 (with the appropriate flash setup) is a good, indestructable option. And finally, the F4 is a great camera that basically is the bridge between the old world of Nikon (you can mount and use pre-Ai lenses on it) and the new world (autofocus, enhanced matrix metering, and too many other features to list). Although I love the F3, if size were not a limitation and I was buying today, I'd seriously consider the F4. On the other hand, if size is important (as it seems to be for you), I'd recommend either the FE2 or the FA. If pushed I'd recommend the FE2, but that's only because I've owned one forever and it's never let me down...but I'm sure lots of people could say the same thing about the FA.

Best of luck to you.