2006 Chevrolet Aveo Special Value 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 5M)
This car has been everything I could have expected and more. It's getting around 30 mpg and the car is actually fast with the manny tranny. 5th gear is tall and the engine speed is comfortable at 80+mph It handles well despite small tires. With the rear seats down, the cargo area is surprisingly big. Only design issue would be that the rear seats are very close to the back of the car and I think in a rear-end accident rear passengers might be mush. Maybe. I drive the car pretty hard and it still gets 30mpg. The stick on the manual is pretty rubbery, not solid feeling. Don't buy a Civic. I paid less than 9k for my SVM model and had enough left over for 2000 gallons of gas-60k miles!
Gas mileage, cargo capacity, perfromance, uses regular unleaded
Make the headlight/parking light one unit. The separated units now look cheap and 80's-ish. Also, move the trunk area back a few inches. It would add cargo space and increase the appearance of rear safety without sacrificing mileage.