Looked far and wide for a 4 cyl/5 speed FWD. This is a great drivetrain. Have gotten 31 MPG several times. Overall I get 28+MPG on my mostly highway commute. Snow is no problem with FWD. I run good snow tires and have had no problems even in deep snow. Not as good as my old jeep but never got stuck. Get the 05 and up vs the 04 if you can. Much better interior design and the bigger 2.3 motor gives better performance and fuel milage. Looked at the Toyota and Honda, but were much more expensive and much smaller. My son is 6'3" and fits in the back with no problems. Also no $300-500 timing belt to worry about on these cars. Has been very reliable. 60,000 miles and no problems what so ever.
The stick. Very roomy interior and outstanding MPG of a car this size
The seats. They are pretty cheesey on the XLS with no up grade available. They remind me of seats out of a 70's 707 airplane.
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