Our 1997 Taurus finally had one too many malfunctions; so we set out to look for a new vehicle. I ran across a review here on Edmund's stating that Fusions are fairly reliable. Further research bore that out; and we bought a 2008 Fusion, 25K miles, I-4/auto, SE package, with warranty and other extras (backup sensors) for exactly $12K. We are VERY pleased. I've only owned it a week, so reliability reports will be coming in the future; but it rides VERY smoothly, accelerates surprisingly fast for a 4-banger, and fit and finish are definitely a notch above for Ford. Sound system (with 6-disc MP3 changer) is more than sufficient, and the car has plenty of cup holders. :D VERY satisfied.
Fit and finish, features, projected reliability, mileage (worst so far is 28 MPG).
Possibly add a few more HP to the engine, make the SYNC package able to be retrofitted. The I-4 is slightly buzzy, but hey, it's a 4-banger.
† Edmunds.com received the highest numerical score in the proprietary J.D. Power 2014 Third-Party Automotive Website Evaluation Study℠. Results based on responses from 3,381 responses, measuring 14 companies and measures third-party automotive website usefulness among new and used vehicle shoppers. Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of owners surveyed from January 2014. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com.