My mother called me this morning to tell me she is looking for a new car, and unsurprisingly is interested only in the above three characteristics. Presumably a number of you have probably needed to look at a car based on those sensibilities for yourself, a friend, or family, so perhaps you could weight in.
-Looking for a used car but within the past several years
-no specific budget has been set yet, but assume well on the cheaper end
-4 seats, hatchback is preferable but sedan is also fine
-Likewise, manual is preferable but auto is ok as well
Mostly it is the three factors listed in the title that are important. I'm inclined to say Mazda 3. We've had a number of Mazdas in the family and we've always been happy with them, but there may be better options. I admit I don't know this part of the market incredibly well. Your recommendations are appreciated if you have them.