Nissan lowered the price of the V6 version of this sexy family sedan to below $25,000 but you can still get plenty of driving pleasure out of the sub $20,000 4 cylinder version. Whichever model you choose, you can take heart knowing you are driving a cooler looking sedan than Accord or Camry.
If you crave luxury but have a budget that requires the purchase of box-loads of Crayola crayons you can probably still afford the Hyundai Genesis. Also, this is a new millennium Hyundai meaning the interior doesnt look like it was made out of recycled crayons.
VW Jetta GLI
It may not be the most spacious family sedan but with the turbocharged, direct injected 4 cylinder engine you wont be worrying about it all that much. Besides, if you are only going to have kids in the rear there is plenty of room. And the trunk is big enough for boxes and boxes of Pampers.
You may feel like you are piloting your computer desktop when behind the wheel of the Prius but there is something addictive about the instant torque of the silent electric motor. There is also a sort of sick enjoyment to be had sneaking up on people in stealth mode in parking lots. If you are frugal you can also get plenty of kicks out of watching the electronic screen that teaches you how to optimize your MPGs. Being green shouldn't really be this much fun.
Honda Civic Si Sedan
Any Honda Civic sedan makes a fine, inexpensive family car but it is the Si version that is the most fun to drive. With a pistol trigger quick manual transmission, driver enjoyment is only a downshift away. The interior of the Civic is also built with enough care that it should be able to withstand the trauma that any of your offspring might toss its way.