2009 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl CVT)
I've owned this car for 2 years and 4 months, and have put 40k miles on it, so I feel it's kind of safe to say I made a wise choice that picked this car from this price range and bought it. Driving experience is very sporty. I espacially like the steering wheel which is tight enough and very accurate (hard to find on other cars I tried under 20k). Reliability is excellent, zero problem since I bought it and all I need is oil change every 3 months. Interior is no fancy leather seat or luxury things, but you can clearly feel Mitsubishi put the money saved here into things you don't see under engine hood. Overall this car is not comparable to bmw or infiniti, but best choice under 20k IMO.
Sporty driving, reliability
If you're in a city that got lots of snow like me, don't use the original tires, they're not good on snow. I bought a set of all season tires and never got any problems with winter here.
Also, be careful of some dealer service, some of them lied (but this depends, my friend got same car and he liked his dealer service a lot). I used a mechanic I trust to do all oil changes, it's safer and it's cheaper (150$ got a 15k maintaince done which costed 600$ in dealer).