2012 Volkswagen Passat SE 4dr Sedan (2.5L 5cyl 5M)
Decided on Passat as best option among mid-size sedans with a manual option.
Others with manuals only did so with uninspiring entry-level trim.
Also like the SE/non-sunroof combination as I rarely use sunroofs and they reduce headroom.
Looked at upscale sedans with manuals (BWM 5-series, Acura TL), but Passat ticks most of the boxes, and I have other uses for the cash.
German engineering with made in the USA is a plus.
So far (5 mos, 6k miles), very pleased in a variety of situations (commuting, kid hauling, nights out).
No problems with build quality or otherwise.
Black on black, with the style of the car, has a classic look that gets complements.
-Refined and responsive, especially for this price point
-Ridiculously much trunk and interior space; gets 4 kids across the back in a pinch
-More pleased with "leatherette" interior than expected (cleans up well, not too hot or cold in the seasons, looks less "cheesy" if in black)
-A bit more zip and/or better mileage (high 20s in mixed driving) to keep up with newer competitors (using Jetta's workhorse engine is clearly what keeps the price down)
-Defogger for windshield doesn't work very well; not sure why (maybe a trick or setting I haven't figured out yet)
-Rear visibility is tenuous; look twice when backing up (although this seems an issue across the class)