Although, I've only ever owned one in my short lifespan, I've driven all of the vehicles either of my parents have owned for the past 7 years (a
lot, I know, but backup vehicles were a must when my dad was doing the paperboy thing).
I have a Volkswagen, and I actually would recommend one to anyone who was looking for a car... But, I would encourage that a diesel transmission would
make it more worth while. My car (Beetle) gets around 1000km/tank highway driving, and around 800 in town driving. When i worked out of town last
year, I was driving to work 6 days a week - and filling up once every 2 weeks - around $50-60 for a tank of fuel. Pretty economical in a world that's
going to crap.
My car as close to 300K on it (I drive a lot) and has never had any major issues outside the regular maintenance. (The only semi-major issue I've had
was when the mass airflow sensor went, I thought my car was dying, not the case.) The only problem with VW's is you really should keep to the
dealerships and the specialists when having it worked on. But that's just my personal experience. Also, my car (which is a 99) has survived a roll
over (little damage to the actual body, moreso to the undercarriage), being run off the road by a blind woman, and "the bucket incident" which I
don't talk about because it makes me angry still. Yup that's right... a Beetle..
I would not, recommend the 2006 year for ANY of the VW's. But anything before that would be a good choice - they had good bodystyles and good engines
from 2001 - 2005. The only reason I don't suggest a 2006 is because of the problems that dad had with his, mostly due to the new engine they put in
the new models. Other then that, the car handled extremely well in winter driving (Did 3 winters on the worst road in Alberta - death highway as I
like to call it - every day for 3 years). Traction Control, ABS, and had a sturdy enough body that it survived hitting various numbers of animals (no
wonder I'm happy dad has retired from the paper business).
It all depends though, what you're driving the car for. Is it lots of out of town stuff? Or in town driving.
Currently dad has a Honda Accord, 2005, which is an excellent little car. He bought it with less then 50K on it, and I think paid $13000 for it.
Drives smoothly - but gas is what kills it. It gets around 600km/tank on the highway. But I'm just spoiled for driving a diesel. When I borrow his
car, I feel like I'm going broke, which isn't necessarily the case.
As SDog suggested, a Mini Cooper is good - but I would upgrade and get the S version. More horsepower and I believe it has a performance chip built
in. We took one for a test drive this year and it was amazing. Hugged the corners really well, although depending on if you're going to have people
in the back seat - not so much comfortable for long trips.
My bestfriend drives a Mazda3Speed and she loves it. It's a sport edition car, and mostly only gets driven in town - but is pretty great on the
highway. Good handling, and such. I'm not sure what her fuel bill is like, but we made it from my town, to her grandparents (around 500K) on one tank
It all depends what you're looking for and what you want it to do...
I still suggest a VW... you know, you could always get a Microbus