Replace Dodge Omni with...?

Could you knowledgable folk suggest a replacement for my '89 Dodge Omni America (aka Plymouth Horizon)? It's an automatic, 4 door hatchback. I want a similar, or slightly larger, 3 to 4 year old used car with good
cargo space, to drive 5,000 miles/yr. without too much aggravation, despite my NYC metro location. :)
I like my Omni and want similar features: 1- Good mpg - 24/28 (better is better); 2- Small outside, roomy inside (15.6 cu.ft. "trunk" - more is more); 3- Hatchback & folding seat let me lug bulky or long stuff; hard hatch cover keeps stuff out of sight; 4- Peppy driving - always first away from red light w/o trying; 5- Inexpensive - to buy, operate & insure (relatively speaking); 6- Convenient - good visibility, easy to park, rear washer/wiper; 7- Simple & Sturdy - real bumpers, manual windows, locks, mirrors, etc. (only power steering), fuel injection, stainless steel exhaust (still OEM.)
Thanks for your input. Google hasn't helped much. - RDG
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What comes to my mind is a VW Jetta. They look like they've got a decent amount of space, and I hear they get good mileage (it's a compact, after all). You're not gonna get tons of power in a compact car, so "always first away from red light w/o trying" isn't going to happen. Maybe if you get one of them fancy Honda VTEC cars and do some work to it. You may be able to always be first from the light with a good bit of trying though. :) Haven't ever been in a Jetta, but they seem like a generally peppy compact hatckback with good mileage from what I've read and seen. If you want good mileage get the turbodiesel, my girlfriends aunt test drove one and was impressed for a compact 4 cyl car. She decided to go with a turbocharged Beetle instead though... Guess the advertising gimmick of the Beetle got her. If you want a Ford you can look at some 80's 5.0 Mustangs with overdrive transmissions. They are compact and peppy, though probably won't get much better than 20 MPG on the highway. Everything is a compromise, so go ahead and test drive some cars.
Cory
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Cory Dunkle opined:

YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING!
JETTA is among the WURST!!
Unrelaible piece of German SHIT!
Buy a Jetta, long for a 92 Taurus 3.8, AX4S.
Buy a 99 Taurus 3.0, look around for the features you want.. they are cheap and dont break all that bad.
Or buy a 95 TAurus 3.0 GL, low mileage from an older owner.. .you'll be surprised how much you like it, not peppy but 27 mpg highway and you'll like everything else about it. The ONLY thing that breaks on them is the PW motors -seldom- and they are easy to replace.
Just re-grease the Ignition module and you're good to 140Kmiles with standard maintenance.
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The worst year for transmission problems for the taurus was 1991. Statistically, they're no worse than average now.
CJB

decent
after
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I can not comment on the reliability, but the Focus wagon has great gas milage, good power, LOTS of room inside, and most everything else you mentioned, including low insurance cost.

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After owning both a Contour and an Escort of about the same vintage, there's no real reason for this guy to spend the extra money on a Contour. They're nearly identical is size and mechanicals.
CJB

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I'm dying to know what you have selected. Did you purchase your replacement yet?
CJB

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