2009 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen S 4dr Wagon (2.5L 5cyl 6A)
Who needs an SUV? I work for a band and haul equipment all the time, but wanted something a little smaller for parking downtown. The VW wagon ticked both boxes, and was actually the roomiest wagon in this price range. If you can swing for the diesel, do it, but the base 5-cylinder has quite a bit to recommend it. Throw in standard heated seats and a telescoping wheel and you get a very refined and functional package for not a lot of money. Tall guys fit well, and legroom in the back is decent. Spring for the winter floor mats. Niggles are few. First gear is too short, and gas mileage isn't what it should be for a car this size. Still, I'd buy it again.
Great stereo, fit and finish is out of its price range. Wheel has a nice heft in character with the torquey motor and stiff suspension. Very little body roll on a turn. Storage and seats are well thought out.
HUGE blindspot in the driver's B pillar, next to your head. Makes lane changes a little woolier than should be on a car this size. Radio turns off when you remove the key, should be when you open the door. Throttle on low-speed starts is a little abrupt, could be the car's age.