You don't want an early Civic Hybrid, they're too often nightmares.
For fun-to-drive, practicality, in-town fuel efficiency, and reliability it's probably hard to beat a Honda Fit. The biggest problem with the Fit is that it commands relatively high prices as a used car.
To get more car for the price, check out the 2008-2011 Ford Focus. The upper trim levels in particular have taut chassis tuning, reliability seems good, and they sell for considerably less than the equivalent Honda or Toyota.