The inline four cylinder produces adequate power during regular driving. Above 3500RPM it really starts to breath and packs plenty of power for passing and merging. However, the engine noise could be a bit quieter inside the cabin, though at higher RPMs is has a nice snarl! Gas mileage is slightly below average for a four cylinder, but is still acceptable.
I recommend the 5-speed manual gearbox to take advantage of all the power the 2.4L I-4 can produce. Throws of the shifter aren’t exactly short, but it shifts smoothly and predictably. The clutch shows no signs of slippage, despite having taught two people how to drive stick on this car.
With some larger, wider rims and rubber than the stock equipment, the car handles amazingly. Even at high speeds the car corners tautly and steers right where you want it to. Despite the lack of ABS and traction control on my model, I have never felt insecure controlling the vehicle.
The seat backs are very low, but provide enough support for comfortable interstate driving. The 6-way manual controls are easy to use, even when sitting on the seat. The A/C blows ice-cold, even on the hottest of days, and the controls are basic and intuitive. The stock single-disk CD player will sound decent for most peoples tastes, though the controls are a bit small The interior may look dated compared to other cars, most controls are right where you expect them and have a quality feel. Wind and engine noise could be quieter.
I highly recommend this car. It is a practical, economical, and fun-to-drive daily commuter with the reliability to take you well into the 100-thousand-mile club. Take the time to look for a 5-speed manual. They are harder to find on the used market, but are out there.