your kind of right on your ideas on the intake and exhaust.
from what i've seen/done/heard. the stock exhaust on these cars are not very restrictive. In which case, adding a CAI or even replacing the stock box like I did to make a SRI will add a small boost to power. of course were not talking about a huge gain like u would get from a turbo. but then in this situation were not talking about spending 4k on a turbo set-up.
Starting small for MOST cars involves going to a CAI first. If you have a car that has a restrictive exhaust, for example the 1gn SOHC Neon, the first move would be exhaust work vs cai.
It's all dependant on the car.