2007 Ford Focus ZX5 SE 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
I purchased this car after relocating across the country, and having to leave my old ride for the vultures. Needed a car that would fit the bill to haul all manner of awkward cargo and serve car- pool duty for my 80 mile (each way) commute. At 8 months and 18,000 miles in, my Focus has peformed reliably and without complaint. Not the nicest car in the segment, but for just over $14K, I got a 5 door hatchback with all the conveniences expected from a modern car, including the optional ABS and front side airbags, along with cruise control and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. The driver's seat has so far proved comfortable for my 6'1" frame on drives up to 400 miles with no aches or pains.
Fold-flat rear seats creates a large cargo area, suitable for everything from 2-3 bikes to smaller bits of furniture. At speeds of 75-80 mph, fuel economy comes in at a consistent 31-33 MPG, even in hilly and windy conditions. Zippy performance in urban driving. Standard CD Mp3 is handy.
Wind and tire noise can be excessive at higher speeds, especially on coarse Texas pavement. Lack of rear headrests will irk taller passengers. Aux audio- in would be nice (standard on the '08s?).