Grew up in Toyotas (great cars!). I have bought my own 4 Accords (well, the last one was a wedding present from Michael!). I was going to buy my 5th Accord in 2012, but MAN were they ever ugly! Got the Hyundai Sonata (Sport) sedan (always want a 4-door).
Amazingly -- in 2012 (and I believe since!) Hyundai BEAT OUT Honda and Toyota in J.D. Powers (think they're made in KY) -- it may still be ahead! Although I think KIA (Hyundai's parent) has pulled ahead of Hyundai in J.D. Powers.
My lovely 2012 Sonata -- and I got the Sport edition because I was trading in my late husband's old Lexus IS = almost a sports car; so a nice tight suspension -- the 'family' version of the Sonata was lovely, but I found it horribly 'boat-like' swimming around corners. The Sport edition had the tighter suspension.
Then when the Sonata was about 4 (and I always kept cars for 8-10 years!) -- I began drooling over the online pix of the KIA NIRO. (O.M.G.!!!) Ended up trading in the Sonata (I tease my neighbor that the ashtrays were full so I had to replace it! And, no I don't smoke!)
Review of the NIRO back when I got it here: https://www.kimbertalk.com/forums/kim...-review-4.html
This past Nov, driving the couple hours in rush hour traffic down to the ATL airport, I kept noticing how MUCH I still love my NIRO -- it's a year old now, and it still ACTIVELY pleases me when I drive it. Still getting around 54 mpg. I fill up once a month, or a month and a week.
It IS a new car, not used (probably not many if any used ones) -- but it's also a baby sport-ute. Honest-to-god! Three 6' adults fit in back (and no "hump", so no uncomfortable footies!) The ceiling in surprisingly high, so no brushing your hair on the ceiling! AND I can get 16 bags of mulch in the back!!
Under $29k. And I got it three days after they arrived in the U.S. / at the dealer! AND I was so .... jazzed by seeing it that I didn't even bargain. I have NEVER bought a car without bargaining till the salesguy cries!! (I did get the sales mgr to offer me 0.9% interest, cause USAA was offering 0.99%. So, I threw $7k cash at him, got ~$8k for the Hyundai, and financed the rest.)
So, I know that's maybe a lot more than you want to spent -- esp. since you may not want a new car...But take a look. Brilliant little cars! Comfortable as all get out! Great visibility all the way round. (I'm a stickler for that!)
That's my ... er ./.. ~$29k (It may have been $28k -- long time ago...) Brilliant wonderful car!