Fords are great! Very reliable. I have a ford fusion and it hasn't given me a bit of trouble. But some people say that its more of a "mommy car" so it might not be your first choice lol. I've heard that Hondas are pretty good too.
Personally, I think the best car for you to have as your first car is a 2008 Honda Civic which has a 26 mpg in the city. However, since you don't want to spend more than $3000 then you can get a Ford Probe GT which has a 2.5 liter engine.