My first thought was a Civic as well. They’re a bit popular to steal, but because they’re popular, parts are cheap, and there are lots of people who know how to work on them. They’re not great in crashes though, I’ve wrecked two with impacts to teh drivers side front corner. So don’t crash (obviously). They’re also great on gas mileage.
If you do go with a Civic, watch out if you get one used. They’re a popular tuner car, so the previous owner might have thought he was a racer and treated his car as such. So just make sure you get it checked out. I recommend taking any car you’re thinking of buying to Firestone for their whatever-number-of-points inspection. Its only $20, but it can save you a lot of money.
And be very careful about buying from a car rental place. Why? Think about how people treat cars they rent: like crap. So most cars coming from rental places have gone through hell in their life. Thats probably not what you want to be buying.
As for Toyota? Its probably comparable to Honda: relatively inexpensive, decent quality, reasonably good on gas, and common enough that parts and work for it are reasonably cheap.