2001 Mazda Tribute ES-V6 4WD 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 4A)
I bought the Tribute almost one year ago for under $12K with 55K miles on it. It is not perfect. Wind noise is bad on the highway and the shifter is annoying, but everyone is amazed when I tell them what I paid. It has a superb engine and transmission, handles great (better than my old Saturn coupe), and looks good. It is not a luxury vehicle, but it is a great car. I have not had any of the problems listed below like the door leather peeling. I was a little worried by all the Ford parts. I would prefer Mazda to build it on their own, but people looking for relatively cheap SUVs with awesome performance can't be too picky. If you get it at a good price, buying the Tribute is a no brainer.
Engine, transmission, handling, cd changer.
Move shifter (done on later models), decrease wind noise, add lumbar support.