I think how good/bad the ride is on cheap coils is subjective. It depends on what you're used to and have experinced. I have Racelands in my VW and I like the way they ride much better then my DD Cavalier. If Raceland made coilovers for my Cavalier I would have them. If I had a BMW or a Vette as my DD I would probably have a different feeling. I don't have a skid plate and have around 3" of clearence and don't have any problems. you just have to pay a lot of attention to the road in front of you.
After I lowered mine I couldn't find a local alignment shop that had a rack I could get on so I did it myself with a tape measure. Goes straight when I let go of the wheel and the tires are wearing evenly.