Mazda Mazda5 and MX-5 Miata
Mazda Mazda5 and MX-5 Miata
Like a shifty NFL receiver, Mazda prefers to find the seam between the zones rather than go for the open field. The wagon/van Mazda5 is a uniquely mini-minivan, a compact people mover that seats six, while the MX-5 remains an unbeatable sports car selling for under $35,000, as well as one of the most reliable cars Mazda makes. After more than two decades on the market, the Miata is hardly an unknown quantity, but fewer than 20,000 Mazda5s found buyers last year, making it a stealth contender.

By Alex Taylor III, senior editor-at-large @FortuneMagazine - Last updated February 02 2012: 11:41 AM ET
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