A Saab or Volvo Sedan is going to be a lot bigger than a Civic. Now if you move up to the Accord, then you are more in the same size family. Two car seats in the back of a Civic doesn't seem like a good fit to me. And while Hondas in general are very safe... for my money, I want a bit more heft and protection against all the idiots driving their aging SUV's with bald tires and old brakes.
You are right, the reliability of the European makes as they age, is not really on the same level as the Hondas and Mazdas, and with another one on the way, your time will be a premium. Usually the flip side of this is a higher resale value of the Japanese cars vs. the Euro makes... So you can shell out more up front, or save the difference for when things might go bad. And as far as I know the Saabs and Volvos are not quite as bad as some of the other Euros as they age like the VWs, Audi's and Mercedes.
I just don't know if I can wrap my head around putting MY family in a Compact Car (Civic) as the only family vehicle for the size and safety reasons.