Mazda Mazda3

Base price: $16,945

The Mazda3 offers shorter drivers not just great visibility, but great affordability as well.

"This is a really good car to buy if you're on a tight budget, because it's affordable but has great handling," Clarke says. "It's the kind of car that you typically have to pay a lot more money for."

And while Edmunds editors like the 2013 Mazda3, a redesigned 2014 version already in Mazda showrooms features a slightly larger and even fancier interior despite an unchanged base price.

The 2014 edition also comes standard with a 155-horsepower four-cylinder engine and a manual transmission that team up to produce an impressive 29 mpg/city and 40 mph/highway. Or you can add a six-speed automatic transmission and boost city mileage to 30 mpg.

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