2004 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx LT 4dr Hatchback (3.5L 6cyl 4A)
This was the car my wife, not me, wanted. It has turned out to be an excellent car. It got 30 mpg avg on a 700 mile road trip and usually does about 24mpg in town. This is with the V6 engine with plenty of power. It also has lots of interior room whether for storage or passengers. We were thinking about a small SUV for our family and switched to a Maxx because its a much better value than a SUV. The back seat is huge. It is not as quiet as some in its class, but it is hardly loud. Handling is super for a family car, though the electric steering takes some getting used to. I've found that the electric steering really reduces fatigue on long drives, though.
The engine -- I'm a fan of the GM small-block. Its combination of power and mileage is hard to beat. The little bit of extra noise is well worth it. The very adjustable seats. It fit my wife better than anything else (she's pretty short) but has plenty of adjustment for much taller drivers.
Don't get the satellite radio from the dealer. Satellite is great - I'm hooked on it - but you'll want to buy it separately, so you can take it out of the car. Chevy dealer service leaves a little to be desired -- if only Saturn sold these cars It'd be great.