I've owned six cars in my life: two Chryslers, one Chevrolet, two Volkswagens, and this is my second Honda Civic. My first Civic, a 1996, made me a Honda fan for life. I'm actually embarrassed for having bought into the "German engineering" hype, because neither of my VWs was that great of a car, and as for the Chev and Chryslers, well... we all make mistakes. My wife and I have two other vehicles, but because my Civic (past and present) has comfortable front seats, lots of room for the kids, tons of trunk space, a decent stereo, phenomenal fuel economy and bulletproof reliability, we always seem to take it everywhere. The 1.7L VTEC engine is a perfect blend of economy and performance.
The Honda Civic is, to me, as close to the perfect car as you can get. Cheap to buy, cheap to maintain, cheap on gas, reasonably nice looking compared to similar offerings from Toyota and Nissan, cheap on gas, roomy and comfortable, easy to drive and incredibly reliable. My favorite features are the engine and the transmission. Honda engines are nothing short of incredible--the perfect compromise of fuel economy and power--and their manual transmissions are among smoothest I've ever driven. Combined with great visibility, a light and nimble chassis and easy-to-use controls, the powertrain makes the Civic a very satisfying daily driver. Oh, and it started this morning at -36 deg., no problem!
The only problem I had with both of my Civics was the trunk/fuel door release. The cable connectors need to be made stronger to withstand the abuse of frequent use in less than favorable conditions (snow, ice, freezing temperatures). Aside from that, one of the most commonly upgraded components is the rear sway bar, because this generation of Civic tends to be prone to pronounced body lean resulting in mild oversteer. Nonetheless, the Civic is surprisingly stable and composed in corners, and the suspension is firm but somehow cushy enough to smooth out the bumps. You can tell that a lot of time has gone into perfecting the driving experience as a whole--something VW claims, but fails, to do.