The new and old Golfs were pretty unreliable. The Mazda3 is probably the best choice, especially with five grand. If you ever drive where they salt the roads, only get a Mazda3 2010 or newer. The first gens rusted easily. The Mazda3 has a stiff ride, but it is engaging.
I would skip the Prius unless the HV battery was replaced with a new one recently. The engines are bulletproof though. It doesn't check the box of needing to be fun, but can fit a lot of stuff in the trunk and it is fuel efficient and reliable. The ride is soft and handling is very disconnected from the road. Get a 2004 or newer with side airbags. High mileage newer ones are also very good because age hurts the Prius more than miles.
The Honda Fit is reliable like the Prius, but more engaging. It is much less refined however. MPG is not as good as the Prius. You need to take a look at the inside of the car because the outside gives you the wrong impression of how much space there is inside. Not a good car for long highway drives as road noise leaks into the cabin a lot. Easy to park.
The Toyota Matrix, Pontiac Vibe, and Kia Soul should also be looked at if you don't like the ones mentioned so far. The Matrix and Vibe might even be better for you than the Fit. The Matrix and Vibe are the exact same car with different badges made at the same factory.