For peace of mind buy a new car
Ah yes, the good old VY. Did the plastic insert in the rear bumper fall out? So many have.
The new VF is a very different beast to the other possibilities you mention, being a much large car and that means higher fuel consumption. They look good though.
You’re better off with a smaller car but unfortunately all of those you mention will set you back more than $20K on the road — and an auto will be another $2000.
Rather than going secondhand, we’d recommend trying to scrape a little extra together to buy the peace of mind that goes with a new car, with a long-term warranty and fixed-price servicing. All of these get five stars for safety.
I’d steer clear of the VF and chase a deal on one of the smaller cars. The Mazda3 is the most powerful and uses the least fuel. But you might find some runout Elantras within your budget. Try for the best deal rather than being emotionally invested in a particular model.