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.