Mine is a Honda Civic EX - 5speed manual. I drive 85% highway and average 33mpg. Previous car was a V6 2000 GrandAM (automatic) and I am VERY impressed with the pick up & acceleration onto the highway with my Civic. I call it my 'poor man's BMW' but that's a compliment because it has the classic exterior styling of a BMW without the outrageous price tag. I've always been a GM buyer - especially Pontiac but after owning a Civic - I'm Honda forever!
5 speed manual has great pick up when accelerating onto a highway. Handles great on wet pavement & in the snow.
Upgrade the interior material - seats, flooring. Offer power seats in the EX - I'm short and it would help.