I think you've only got a few viable, reliable, enjoyable options: Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla. Of the three, I'd probably go with the Civic. I've never had a single problem in over 8 years of driving them. Forget old European or American cars out of warranty. They are potential liabilities through and through. You might also look into a slightly used CSX or even an older TSX. The TSX has the secret word built into its name.
7/15/09 at 7:28pm