2008 Volkswagen Rabbit S 4dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 6A)
Originally I was looking for an upgrade to a small SUV but couldn't find anything with pep, decent MPG, and a sticker below $25000. So on to the hatches! $20-22k was more in the price range and the Rabbit perfectly fits the bill. This thing has so much ROOM for a hatch. It's amazing. The only roomy complaint I have is that the drivers knees are *slightly* cramped. There is plenty of length, but something feels a little too tight when it comes to the steering wheel and the knees. But that's it! That's about the only complaint. The interior, exterior, ride, zip/power, handling, and features are way beyond the competition. 4door auto, ESP, sunroof, alloys, and 170HP for $20k. Nice.
Torque, smooth ride, style and design, stereo, good MPG for what you get (25mpg avg, 80% city), regular gas, rear seat space, solid feel when opening/closing doors and hatch, room for the dog in the back, and did I mention it's fast?
(Half-hearted complaints.) Option for steering wheel upgrade and leather seats, have tiptronic mode slide left, not right, better aux port placement, and need better availability of option loaded cars. Have had for 3 months, reliability unknown at this point.