2005 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx LS 4dr Hatchback (3.5L 6cyl 4A)
We needed to replace a 1993 VW Passat wagon. I found an off-lease 2005 Malibu Maxx V6 with only 20,000 miles, and was able to get it for only $12,000. We have had it for 1,000 miles, and so far, very impressive. Huge cargo capacity with seats down. 33-34 mpg on highway with AC on; 30 mpg in mixed driving, with odometer validated on a measured mile! Easy to drive, very spacious, great stereo, easy to use controls. For the price, it is quite a package. It's a real shame that GM never marketed the car, and now is changing it to another overpriced sedan with complex OHC engine and worse mpg's, and also forcing you to buy an SUV even if you only occasionally need a hatchback.
Gas mileage. Strong engine. Seat and pedal adjustments. A wagon when you need it, economy like a compact the rest of the time.
Typical GM steering with no feedback. Don't know what the new model will be like. Better cloth seat material, as others have stated.