I bought my Saturn SL2 brand new, in 2001. It's a 5 speed, and I have always loved the way it shifted into gears. Very smooth and precise.
I drove my car from Pennsylvania to Florida with my husband, two of my children, and myself, along with all of our stuff, and we just set the cruise control and it was a great ride.
I do believe if you want space, though, this car would not be for you.
I consistently drive around 88 miles per hour on average, and the cruise comes in handy on long stretches of highways.
I've always been comfortable in the car myself because I'm only 5'1", so the car is great for shorter people. Everything is very near to you.
I would definitely recommend this car. It would be a great starter car, or a great 2nd car to do your running in!
In 86,000 miles, this car has been well worth the money, and I'm getting reading to upgrade to a Vue.