I would stay FAR FAR AWAY from a Neon, Cavalier, Sunfire or other domestic econobox. Seen too many of them turn into money pits! While the engine in a corolla or civic can and will go on forever, the domestics are not so lucky.
Not to jump on the band wagon but I have to tell my experience. The neon platform is solid and much more affordable than a corolla or similar. The community Neon.org is there should he need help or great information on how to fix something. More than likely this kinda network isn't there for low end Toyota's. Again a great cost savings if $$$ is truly an issue.
Parts and insurance will be cheaper as well and readily available
I have a heavily modified SRT neon, it is the same motor as the 2.4 and 100k miles and it doesn't burn a drop of oil. Routine maintenance and only failure was a starter this spring. The 2.0 is also a super strong motor, easy to work on and great gas mileage.
Again just trying to find best bang for buck if this is what he is looking for.