Thanks for the positive comments. SG- your not too far off, The GTI was not my daily driver, but when it became so, did not want to drive manual daily in some commuter traffic, and the warranty was going to expire in a few months. Thankfully the GTI was paid off and held it's value very well. It was a blast to drive, pwr, refinement, had it all. Chose Impreza with CVT from reviews and advertised CVT MPG's and still wanted a hatch, leather, moonroof, rear view dimming mirror, heated seats etc.. AWD although not required was also great feature and the proposed reliability. The Impreza provided almost all of that. To this day, I can say the Impreza was very reliable, and great in the rain. But as a daily driver, the CVT did not cut it for me. "The Impreza can't get out of its own way" perfect analysis. I commute 40 miles daily and the CVT was driving me nuts, It is a horrible transmission IMO. I wouldn't call myself Fickle, car just did not meet my expectations, MPG, CVT Trans, Rattles, Enjoyment Factor - ie You Want to get up each morning excited to drive the car. Did not provide that. Other cars have.
I don't think I got raped on my trade-in. At $18k yes, but at $20,500 I feel blessed. The sticker for my Impreza was $25,439 Option Pckg 62 Moonroof, Auto Dim Mirror with comp, Bumper Applique, side sill plates, Aero Splash guards. I paid $24,000 and had the car for almost exactly 1 year, 13,700+ miles and a trade in of $20,500. That means I drove it for a year for Less than $300 a month incld tax diff. As stated, spoke to several dealers and all but one did not really want the car on trade, as there was no money in it for them to make a profit at my trade value. At $18k yes! That is why I jumped and signed at $20,500. And as far as Zippers comment that they sold me the Mazda 6 for more, The invoice price on the car was $29,270 and I paid $29,500. Tool. They can't keep them on the lot, so that is a great deal IMO. Just check out TrueCar. The New Mazda 6 are all new from the ground up, so comparing them to old Mazda 6 is a waste, at least to me. The prior gen 6 is a different car, different league, and I would not have bought one. Actually think they are horrible.
SG - I really started my search looking at the 2014 Mazda 3 S Grand Touring, you are correct the 2.5 engine does not come in a Manual - and you can't get white with almond leather, and then when I sat in the 2014 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, and after driving it, as stated, just go drive one. Refined, Rattle Free, Soft Touch plastics where they count, comfort, room, and I am not kidding the 6spd Trans was the key! Car fits my needs for daily commuting, provides excellent economy, luxury and hopefully excellent build quality/reliability. The 3 was a little tight and I didn't like the ergonomics of the interior.
I appreciate all the valuable information I found here by most. Good Luck! - Enjoy your cars!!!