I finally broke down and called my mom about it. I hadn't before because I knew the judgment that would go with the fact that we wanted something other than a junker. I knew that in her opinion we were spending WAY too much money. She said we could get a new car for that kind of money (which we could not, but I looked into it.) We went to 2 more dealerships. We found a car that we would be happy with for 3 grand less than the camry. However, we were losing a lot of niceties along with a few other things.
What the decision came down to was- who is going to give us a better resale value- camry
which has the best MPG- camry (ok, the camry and the sonata were about the same)
which has a better reputation for reliability- camry
which is a better value according to Kelly BlueBook Value- camry by a landslide.
We never found a Malibu that we liked. The only other car we found was an 09 Hyundai Sonata. Although reports say that Hyundai has stepped up there game (beginning with the '09 models), I really trust the history of Toyota more. I don't know if the 09 Hyundai's will last for 10 more years. But I do know that I ran a camry into the ground (or so I thought) with nearly 200,000 miles on it, almost a decade old, and I still was able to resell it!
So we are