2004 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx LT 4dr Hatchback (3.5L 6cyl 4A)
Bought an '04 Camry a year ago - it was stolen (a story for another time!) and needed a new car. Avoided Toyota (most frequently stolen) and bought the Maxx instead - drives better than the Camry did, and for about the same money got leather interior, amazing flexibility of rear seat/cargo configuration. I was fortunate to find a brand-new '04 (identical to the '05) and got better than employee discount price. The Malibu Maxx isn't flashy - but like Camry, Accord, etc. it may soon be seen by consumers as a "best in class" family vehicle. Drive is smooth, easy. Love the remote start feature. Very comfortable for a family of five.
Leather interior/interior comfort. Peppy V-6. Flexibility of rear seat (slides up/back, reclines, folds flat for cargo). Side & front air bags, ABS included in price (options on Toyota!). Holds almost as much cargo as a minivan. Great value for the money.
Styling a little ho-hum. Drive could be "sportier." These would be minor fine-tunes to a great family car.