Folks, I'm a firm believer in buying American, and it's good to know that American autos have finally caught up and in many ways surpassed their foreign counterparts. See: the current Chevy Malibu and Ford Fusion (along with the amazing Ford Taurus for larger tastes) as proof. However, the current offerings of compact vehicles from Ford, GM and Chrysler sorely, sorely underwhelm compared to their foreign counterparts.
Next year that all changes with the release of the 2011 Chevy Cruze and 2011 Ford Focus. Both vehicles are all-new from the ground up (unlike the current Focus, which despite different sheet metal, is based on the same platform as the original Focus from 2000) and are said to be as nice as any compact car ever made.
I love my 2003 Focus, but I'll be honest: it's pretty bare bones and would love to add some class to my life. That said, I love the gas mileage and actually like the size because it's easier to maneuver than a larger car. I'm also a believer that gas prices are sure to rise as the market rebounds. So that begs the question: buy a loaded compact, or a reasonably equipped midsize car?
For the reasons above, I'm going compact, and I'll be watching these two cars closely. The way I see it: if you can get luxury-style amenities for an affordable price, and the maintenance costs are low as well, why not? Time to start saving.