2005 Ford Focus ZX3 S 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
With the understanding that the Focus was an econobox, I purchased one new from dealer in summer of '05. After 4+ years ownership, it has performed without fail and has proven itself to be a very capable daily commuter, with occasional weekend duties as a hauler. I drive 45+ miles daily, and feel quite comfortable with the amenities it has. I especially enjoy the small footprint yet torquey responsive engine. I can zip easily throughout traffic, yet blend in as necessary. The hauling capacity is quite surprising for such a small car on the exterior. People at my landfill have expressed their amazement at how much I can fit in the back. It's very durable and capable - I recommend it.
Torquey engine, amazing hauling capacity, chain-driven cams, nearly maintenance free engine (just change oil/coolant). I don't have to spend a lot of time on maintenance - that to me is a big selling point. Appearance is subjective - to me it's a very clean design.
It is an econobox so the interior is below what you'd expect in the average car. That said, the plastic could be made softer. Also, stiffen the suspension up a bit on the base model and include a rear swaybar.