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30+ mpg
AWD or 4WD

Pontiac Vibe or its twin the Toyota Matrix.

The Pontiac version would meet your equipment and price requirements in its base form. You'll pay more for the Toyota out of the starting blocks but get better resale value (so do you want it on the front end or the back end). I have yet to see a post or talk to one person unhappy with the Vibe/Matrix.

They seat four with ease, have a useful cargo area, short, can be equipped with roof rails for extra cargo carrying ability, Toyota engine and tranny - the GM version is built at a different plant to the Toyota version. Materials, quality, etc. etc. are equal. Toyota has slightly different styling. Down side is the trade off for mileage -- I don't think you'll break 30 MPG in a 4WD version and it is slightly under powered.

I know we have some Vibe owners here -- they could speak up.

However with that said given the requirements of seats four ADULTS, has 4WD or AWD, gets 30 MPG, and no more than the mid-teens -- you're list of candidates is VERY short (as you've probably figured out). Given that set of requirements that is about the only thing that comes to mind.

Don't even think of getting a Baja, Subaru is killing it for a good reason. Namely you can get an identically equipped Outback wagon for LESS money - so why have the chopped off useless cargo area when you can have the utlity of the wagon configuration.
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