My mom ownes a '05 Hyundai Sonata, and she practically tortures it. It is a 4 cylinder automatic car, and she's crashed it into crap so many times. It has 200,000 miles on it and still running strong. We have had problems with the headlights burning out, but they are easily replaced.
The car is a little bit underpowered, but it makes it up hills with no problem. The gas milage is 22 Highway, 19 city by my calculations, and that is really good by todays standards.
My mom has a lead foot though, and she treats it like a piece of crap. It stands up well to abuse from poor driving skills, and it has a reliable engine.
The only thing I would recommend is getting the silver Sonata with the dark grey interior, because on the "champagne" Sonata you can see dirt on the interior everywhere.
The insurance is very affordable, much cheaper than my dads car.
You can find a 2004 or 2005 Hyundai Sonata for about 6,000 USD, and it is definately worth it.
Hope this helps
Owned 2 Hyundai