2009 Volkswagen Rabbit S 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M)
When it was time to trade in my old car (a '95), I looked at nearly all of the cars in the $15-20K market. Drove the Mazda3, Vibe, Versa, Matrix, Civic, xD... they all kind of felt the same. I had resigned myself to a functional compact with few features that I could "make do" with; then I drove the Rabbit. WHOA - it was like finding religion. There is absolutely no car in this class that is nearly as fun to drive. Plus even the base model is packed with extras. The interior is refined with quality materials. I got the 2-door 5-speed manual and I love it. I've never owned a VW before, but the Rabbit has definitely made me a believer.
Solid build quality, great handling, peppy 2.5L engine, lots of room (I'm a big guy), red LEDs light the interior at night, easy-to-read gauges, hidden iPod dock, heated seats, adjustable center armrest, rear wiper, chilled glove compartment, defrost for side-view mirrors and back window
Make the 4-door available with a 5-speed manual transmission, provide a center armrest in the back seat on the 2-door, include a MPG dash display like in the 2008 models