A tall order to stack up against my '75 Civic, but Detroit has finally come abreast of Honda--not to win, of course, but at least place or show. At $9999 this basic model had just what I wanted, including a tight 5-speed manual trannie, almost as buttery smooth as Honda. (Power windows are over-rated anyway.) The caster is a bit too strong, the steering ratio is a bit too sharp, and the steering wheel is a bit too small, so it won't drive itself like a Civic. If you're making a sharp right, be advised to keep a firm grip on the wheel, 'cause it will snap back in the direction it's pointing in a hot lick. But Hey, it's from Detroit! I started with a '49 Chevy, and I'm back home.
Information display, Fold-down rear seats (open to trunk), Good sound proofing. Zippy performance and comfortable to drive. This car will make a great graduation present for your high school kid: he or she will love it.
With some miles on them, the cheap plastic wheel covers begin a death rattle at low speeds that will sound like the frame is falling off. Two solutions: 1) roll up the windows; 2) put strips of double-backed foam tape around the wheel cover rim to bind it to the wheel. My wish list: cruise control.