2007 Ford Focus ZX3 SE 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
The little ZX3 is not a Mazda 3 but it is its less expensive cousin with the almost same 2.0 engine less the vvt. Too bad that Ford is replacing the hatch back in 08 with a coupe, but maybe it will drive just as well. I am getting 25 mpg in town and on a trip across California and Arizona on the interstate, I got 30 mpg average on a 400 mile trip, and my ZX is an automatic. I have only had it for a few months but they have been trouble free, and Ford now has a 5 year 60K warranty just in case. It's a solid little car for the price.
Great steering and handling, smooth ride for a small car. Responsive engine, with good mileage. Quiet interior at highway speeds for a small car.
OK it isn't a Honda in finish quality, but it isn't bad ether for the price.