2006 Mazda Mazda6 i Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
Handles like a sports car, especially on twisty country roads, FUN to drive and as comfortable as a big highway cruiser on long trips. My opinion: you don't need the V6; the 4 is sufficient and when you need to punch it it really takes off. Mileage from 23 to 29 mixed highway/city and with and without a/c. 4,700 miles and so far not a squeak, rattle or problem. Perfect size vehicle, plenty of room yet agile; can't beat the versatility of the hatch. Excellent driving position; very comfortable seats. Very quiet. Transmission nice and smooth. On the downside: bad rear over the shoulder blind spot; side mirrors don't retract (very bad for living in NYC); turning radius is annoying but not horrible.
Sequential sport shift, power driver seat, 6-CD Bose stereo, moonroof, lowering windows from key fob, very nice quality cloth seats (much nicer than Honda's; we prefer cloth to leather), fold flat rear seats - all the room of an SUV or a big station wagon when you need it. Plus it's great looking.
We tested many cars, price was not an issue. Wanted something practical and fun, the 6 fit the bill. One thing missing: stability control, but I began to hydroplane on the highway in a rainstorm and it seemed the traction control kicked in. We are very happy with this car and I highly recommend it.