I've owned my '01 DX Civic for over 4 yrs & 72k miles. Almost immediately the alt pulley came off & was fixed under warranty. At about 18k mi the brakes started grinding, i was told I needed new brakes; ok. Still they were grinding. After 8 visits and 8 resurfacings they found that a badly adjusted control made the brake pedal hang down about 1/2 in, just like i described... I had a hill holder. At 30k mi they gave me a new set of pads and rotors and that was the last problem I've had. Since then, no problem.
Flat rear floor from diff rear suspension that 88; more room, squirrely handling. Aside from initial teething prob, 100% reliable & economical.
Give the DX a tach. Rearrange the door panel so door pull isn't in way of window crank. Better std tires (they're bad the rain). Make ABS std on the DX, while std airbags may save your life in a crash, ABS may avoid the crash.