2012 Nissan Sentra 2.0 SR 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT)
The little Sentra is probably overlooked by most people interested in a small car, and that is too bad.
It has more interior room than most of its competitors, you sit a little higher off the pavement, and the driving dynamics are good.
Add to that some outstanding gas mileage when driven gently - way better than the EPA estimates so far for me. And all of that for a price that is easily as good or better than its competitors.
And due to good resale values, you can get really great lease payments - much smarter than buying a 1 or 2 year old used car.
Nissan offers a trim they call SR that comes with alloy wheels and some other nifty bits without charging for them (same MSRP as the more plain S trim).
The CVT still freaks out some people, but it is such a great advancement in the old-fashioned gasoline internal combustion cars without costing thousands like hybrids and other new technologies.
Drive this car gently and you can routinely achieve over 35 mpg in the city and hit 40 on the highway.
Stomp the gas and you can still get powerful performance when needed.
The interior roof line against the windshield hangs downward just enough that a tall person will struggle to see stoplights when right up next to them.
The manually adjusting seat permits height adjustments, but with it all the way down I find I could use another inch of travel.
The trip computer can provide lots of information, but the only control is a single button up on the face of the gauges... a little tough to toggle through the various choices while driving.
Pretty much everything else is really well engineered.