2007 Mazda 3 s Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
I bought my 07 new in March of that year.
In 4 1/2 years only scheduled maintenance was required. It has proven to be even more reliable than my previous Honda Civic over the same near 5-year period.
The hatchback offers versatility and the engine is punchy while still offering respectable mpg.
The interior quality compares favorably with other vehicles in this price category.
You can probably pick up a decent used one in the $10K to $12K range depending on condition/mileage, which makes it a very competitive car in the small hatchback category.
The 3 Hatch seems to offer that perfect mating of reliability and functionality with a small dose of sportiness.
Great engine with plenty of pep (especially with the 5 speed) and a quiet authority.
Fairly nice dashboard layout and good--but not great--seats and dashboard materials.
Wonderful, easy engagement clutch.
MPG is good, but don't expect 30+ unless all your drive is interstate.
Better, more durable seat material like on the Civic SI I drove would be a plus.
Like most, I would prefer even better gas mileage, but that would likely come at the expense of the zippy engine so going with the smaller 2.0 engine would probably be the smarter move if gas prices are a big concern.
Although my car is white it seems to be a magnet for fender benders and has been hit three times--and it was parked and unoccupied each time!