2009 Mazda MAZDA5 Sport 4dr Minivan (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
We had a sports sedan that just wasn't keeping up with the needs of a family, but wanted to keep with a manual transmission. This was the only option out there with a 3rd row of seats and we're very happy with it. Plenty of cargo space, great safety features, peppy little engine that is seat-of-the-pants fun to drive, good gas mileage, and fantastic brakes. I always thought the crossover class was going in the wrong direction: crossing a car and a SUV. This is a cross between a Mazda3 5-door and a van: which surprisingly ends up with a "best of a worlds" feel.
manual transmission, great brakes, good gas mileage with standard fuel (no need for premium), safety features, comfortable seats
wish it had a little lower roof-line to diminish the slight top heavy feel.