I started driving with my mom's 2002 honda civic about a year ago and so far I love it. We bought it new as one of the two family cars(before I could drive) and we've only had one minor problem with it. The battery went dead on us but we were able to get a replacement from the local walmart. I got a job recently that pays pretty well so I had the money for a really nice car if I wanted one. I've test driven the 2008 Scion DX, Corolla S, and a few other cars. I even got the opportunity to drive a Benz slk280, a Lincoln Continental(older model) and a Buick Lucrene. I'm still in love with the Honda. I don't see how I could see myself driving anything else. My mom wants it back so I'll likely have to eventually.
As for driving the car, it accelerates quite well. It gets excellent fuel economy, about 32mpg for me, but I do mostly highway driving at 55-65 mph. I've gotten it up to 115 before. I can take turns pretty quickly and it grips them VERY well. I usually take the highway to highway exchange ramps at the highway speed instead of the posted suggested speed. Usually taking a 35 mph turn at ~60 mph. I've yet to actually lose control of the car under normal weather conditions. A lot of that is based on the tires, but I feel sturdy in it. It can stop on a dime without skidding as well. The only downside is since it's a small car, it's not designed to carry a lot of passengers. I believe the total weight limit for passengers is ~900 lbs, but until you've had a license for 6 months you can't have more than 1 passenger anyway. It has plenty of room for passengers despite it's small appearance, but if you have a lot of fat friends, you're going to be out of luck.
It got excellent safety ratings. This is why we chose the Civic over the Corolla from the same year.
To be completely honest, when I DO get my own car, I'll probably get another Civic.
Honestly, I would steer very far away from SUVs and large cars. They're not nearly as easy to drive as smaller cars and much harder to park, especially parallell park. They also get HORRIBLE fuel economy. The ones that get more than 30 mpg are extremely expensive since they're usually hybrids.