Price was also the big driver for me when I was in the market. The base price for the Patriot, up here in Canada where things always cost more was around $18,500. Everyone was having their end of the year clearout sales at the time, so I did some comparing. Many were showing base models in the $20,000 range. Unfortunately, my wife will only drive an automatic and so we were suddenly looking at a major jump in price because this was not an entry level transmission. The Ford dealer would not listen to my requests for a basic vehicle and said the best they could do was $24,000 - I walked away and bought the RAV4 for much less. I wish you all the luck in your search - and no I'm not trying to convert you into buying a Toyota. The fact that you want a manual transmission should make your search easier, is my guess.