Original poster here, I forget to mention, too, that the car has a lot of torque steer. This means that when you accelerate, the car pulls to the right, and when you downshift to decelerate, the car pulls to the left. All front-drive cars with transverse-mounted engines do this to some extent, but the Civic seems to be worse than most.
You get used to this if you drive it enough, but we also have a small truck, which does not torque steer, so I have to re-learn again every time I change vehicles.
Shortly after writing my original review last week, the windshield wiper motor failed. That'll be $300 more. VERY expensive parts on this car.
This review really sums up the Honda Civic and I believe that the Civic is second only to the Corolla when it comes to small cars.
I'd agree on the suspension comments - it's pretty much at its limits now. I did an upgrade on mine, and you can def. feel the chassis flex. If all you've ever driven is Japanese FWD cars, you might not notice, but plunk your butt into a BMW driver's seat, and you will learn very quickly what a rugged chassis feels like.
My VTEC EX had reasonably tight handling after I dropped it 3/4" (and got new camber plates to compensate for the camber change that causes), but you could definitely see the hood moving around a bit under hard cornering, and after about three years, lots of rattles and creaks came about because the frame is really not up to much more than what's stock on it.
Inexpensive cars are all trade-offs...the Civic gives you better OEM handling than the Toy, but if you want the best OEM handling in a smallish car that's 35+ MPG, check out the Mazda 3 - but Mazda reliability is dicey.
One more thing on the Civic - many of them had the catalytic converter fail circa 90,000 miles, a $1200 repair. My dealer offered to pay for it, but I'm told not all dealers do. So it's unclear whether this is extended warranty or not - Honda has never been really good at "coming clean" on some of these things.
At 140,000 miles, mine has now had a few cracked suspension bushings, and if you thought a $700 t-belt/water pump was expensive, wait until you see the ego that Honda builds into the suspension parts costs on the car!
Thank goodness it doesn't often need repair, because Honda parts are VERY expensive - in my experience, about double the similar part on a BMW.
I had my Civic since the day it first came out, and not one problem I with it. The parts that I replaced on my Civic are the distributor and alternator, and those needed to be replaced at a certain amount time. Change them once and that's it. Some people are lucky and some is not.
Anyway, let's cut to chase, is there anyway you can make the chassis stronger, because I think all cars with uni body chassis tend to flex, that's my opinion.