I drove my Civic DX away from the dealer in March, 1999 and there are now 156K miles on the odometer. Although carefully maintained, this car has never been garaged and has spent her entire life in the frozen north (Michigan & Upstate New York). My daily commute runs between 70-80 miles. Except for a slightly leaky water pump at 70k and the odd rusty muffler/tailpipe, there have been no repair issues outside the normal service schedule. (The clutch is original.) My Civic still delivers 35- 40 mpg if driven rationally; expect a little less with 4 snow tires.
Reliability, reliability, reliability. Stall out up here during the winter months, and you may end up looking like that neolithic dude they found in the Swiss Alps a few years back. Of course, the superlative gas mileage is a plus, too.
A slightly more powerful engine would be helpful. Passing a tractor trailer on a two lane highway with 117 HP is somewhat an act of faith.