I'll throw another on the list. Scion Xa more optioned than a yaris for same money and 4 doors.
ETA: I know it isn't a Honda but it is like $14k almost loaded.
Also while agree with Metro about used cars, I could not handle my Geo with 140k miles for 600 miles a week in the middle of summer anymore after 1.5 years. Yeah I like 50mpg but I also like my sanity after 9 hours at work.
When I buy a car, I look at all the models, and yes, like the dork that I am, make a list of +'s and -'s of each. Clearly: reliability, FE, and space are critical.
You seem to trust Honda/Acura as I do, so I can see you in something like that.
Although I just did it, I don't recommend buying a new car -- like Metro said: the depreciation is killer. If you can get your hands on an "Intellichoice" Magazine car listing issue, it will tell you all the reasons why a used car is better, and list every car's value and depreciation over the last few years.
So, we're looking at 4-doors, possibly a wagon/X-over, and Hondacura/Asian (don't feel like you need a wagon/or SUV to haul stuff -- I've hauled 400 lb. of bricks in the back of the '98 Integra - twice and it's still going). If the seats fold down, you can haul stuff. Unless you're a musician or have tall items to carry, I'd steer clear of the wagon-style.
The years are approximations -- see what you can find...
1. 2004 Honda Accord LX/EX 4-cyl manual (leather is an option, I believe) classic "family sedan".
2. 2004 Honda Civic LX/EX manual. My in-laws went from a Grand Marquis to an 05' LX and absolutely love it.
3. New/Slightly used Kia Spectra 5 (make sure it's a stick or you'll get stuck with an old/abused rental car). Good warranty, and inexpensive -- I've driven the sedan and it's will surprise you in a good way.
4. 2005 Mazda 3, 2.0L Sedan or the less efficient Maz 3, 5-door 2.3L. Fun, efficient, word's still out on reliability
5. 2005 Camry -- boring, reliable, spacious, efficient, blah-blah-blah (again, the manual assures "not-a-rental").
The M/V: Built in the GM/Toyota factory in California -- has a GM radio and a few GM parts here and there. Everything else is Toyota. Essentially a Corolla Wagon. Drove a few and the FE isn't realistic to EPA estimates. IMHO it has an awkward driving position and interior layout. I'm not a fan.
6. 2005 Scion xA -- Awesome FE, Toyota reliability, but very spartan inside. The xB is up to you, but we're back to the musician thing again here...
The Prius is way overpriced right now, or else I'd recommend it.
IMHO, avoid Asian nameplates like Nissan, Subaru, and Mitsubishi.
Other makes Foreign and Domestic are your call.
Good luck, and PM me with any questions. I hope things work out for the best, which they generally do.
$0.02, worth: Very likely on the Civic you are pretty close to fixing the issue or issue's which remain. However, finding those may be tricky, particularly if your already having a hard time dealing with it.
However, if you need a reliable car, now, either for yourself or your family, or both, then if you can afford it I would get either a newer, good, used car or get a new car. My primary problem with respect to car purchases and life is that I hate having any payment obligation which is not absolutely essential. However, it is important to have a reliable car for transportation, including work.
Additonally, at the moment in the balance of financial need's for our family, our need's are such that I can mechanically rebuild a Honda, including all of the moving part's, for $2000, top's and end up with a reliable car.
We have a 1994 Chrysler Town & Country Minivan which had a newly rebuilt transmission when we bought it. Unfortunately, it had gremlin's, similar to your Civic and the transmission would go into limp in mode, at random. I had it diagnosed, I removed the transmission pan, several times, but I could not find a problem. I finally decided to wire a second parallel power relay in to power the transmission solenoid's. In looking for a power source, I found a nice bolt takeof, right behind the battery, so I went to hook it up and found the nut was finger tight. I put my power on the takeof and tightened it down and it has run great for over 100,000 mile's. But, it took a lot of time and was a royal pain before I found the problem.
My expectation is your Civic probably has a similar issue, but you sound to me like you need something more reliable, now.
I would suggest considering a used Honda, instead of a new vehicle, because you can get one for substantially less, in terms of payment's, but that's just my suggestion.
Personally, if I were in your exact situation, I would sell the Civic and buy the Fit. Be aware that short time is an enemy when trying to sell a car...you may be able to get nearly $3K for the Civic, but you'll have to wait for it. I'm trying to hold out and get what I want for my Civic right now...it's tough.
So do you still have issue's with your car that we might be able to help you with?
Even since I redid my grounds and moved the ECU back onto the floor I've had no issue. I personally think the ECU wiring is a bit funky, so it will need to be checked before I can put it back in. My guess is that a wire got pinched or something.
The idle drops when I engage the A/C. In past cars the a/c would affect the engine load, but the computer would compensate the idle. I'm idling dangerously low with the a/c turned on. So far this hasn't been a problem, but before the engine swap it would stall the car.
It looks like I'll be driving this car at least until I can get my hands on a used Fit.
I am going to finish up the body work sometime soon so that I can be happy with how the car looks. After that I need to figure out why my gas mileage appears to be in the lower to mid 30s. Maybe I shouldn't have purchased a used oxygen sensor.