I drive a 2002 Civic sedan and it's a very reliable car...thats about it....lol...oh and i guess it looks presentable if your going somewhere...as opposed to a beat up ford escort or something.
After driving the auto version all this year, i have come to the conclusion i will never buy a civic for myself unless it's a 2door manual Vtec equipped version. I just don't feel that these cars are 'solid'. their too plasticy...but since your fiance is going from a cavalier to this, she probably won't mind that too much. So basically what you can expect from the civic sedans:
-No major repairs for a WHILE(our 02' civic hasn't needed anything but oil changes yet...but it's still a baby but just to give you an idea..she won't be hunting down the dealer to recognize her warranty for stuff going wrong!
If i was in your shoes however, i would look at a mid to low mileaged 4 Door Accord, MUCH more solid ride....you think civics are reliable?>..hahahah accords are honda's BENCHMARK car which only means good things....so check out the price ranges on the autotrader just to have a look see(i'm pretty sure u can get a decent 01 if not 4door for close to 20gs?)
Manual, 4 dr., 2.3, 4 cyl. , Gas, Silver exterior, Grey interior, Alloy Wheels, Sun Roof, Bucket Seats, Heated Seats, Heated Mirrors, Air Conditioning, AM-FM Stereo, Compact Disc, Power Windows, Power Locks, Power Mirrors, Cruise Control, Tilt Wheel, Driver Air Bag, Passenger Air Bag, 5 spd
Manual, 4 dr., 2.2, 4 cyl. , Gas, Gold exterior, Tan interior, Fog Lights, Alloy Wheels, Sun Roof, Spoiler, Bucket Seats, Heated Mirrors, Air Conditioning, AM-FM Stereo, Cassette, Compact Disc, Power Windows, Power Locks, Power Mirrors, Cruise Control, Tilt Wheel, Driver Air Bag, Passenger Air Bag, Anti-Lock Brakes, Anti-Theft, Keyless Entry
so yeah, that shud be a good start...manual 4doors are very rare for the accord...but if you were to buy a civic u'd buy brand new anyway so that wouldn't be a problem.
Also, If you do plan on going with the civic...be careful that when you DO wash your car, to dry it thoroughly!...if your not careful and let moisture buildup...rust builds up super-easy for some reason on the corners and stuff on this car...especially near the trunk area...and at the door sills....and of course the notorious rear panel right above the rear tires
Hope that helped...whether u choose to go civic or accord...it will definately be a reliable ride...honda manual transmissions are actually more reliable then their ALREADY reliable auto trannys