2007 Toyota Matrix XR 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 4A)
The Matrix is quite possibly the best compromise in size, comfort, fuel economy, and good looks. A quiet and smooth drive, with "peppy" acceleration I did not expect from the horsepower ratings. Great fuel economy (28.5 mpg in 80/20 city/hwy driving), and spacious interior. This was my SUV "alternative," and so far, so great. I'm personally a big fan of the exterior styling, although the interior dash could use a "refreshing" a la the new Camry. Toyota quality is excellent - the doors close with a solid "thwump" - not that empty, hollow-door feeling.
Fuel economy, exterior styling, quiet and smooth ride.
Refresh the dash and center console. Make side airbags and anti-lock brakes standard - I couldn't get these options without getting a fully-loaded Matrix.