To me planets in Galciv2 also don't have the thrill of adventure. The colony rush for many is a very annoying part of the game. Getting beat to a planet by Lord Konna by one turn can be a bit of a doozy.
They also don't have depth to them. They might have a production tile and a morale, but they don't have a personality. For example, a radioactive planet doesn't have any penalties to the population growth or have any way to defend against the radiation. (Ofcourse, I don't know that entirely as "Advanced Radioactive Colonization" is a little vague)
I suggest that planets have multiple layers. planets in Galciv2 seem to have only one layer, the top soil where you build your empire. The lower layers seem to be discarded for some reason. For example Europa looks icy and cold on it's top layer, but it may harbor a living, habitable ocean underneath it's surface. In Galciv2 you would most likely see this as a class 0 planet. Which to me is a poor description of a rare object in the universe.
Perhaps Galciv2 could have scanners to scan the lower layers of a planet and colonize the inner levels. In fact, that would add a new twist to the colony rush.
"You find a class 10 planet that looks good on the top, but you also see a class 0 planet that could possibly be a class 20 underneath its surface. You dismiss the class 0. So, you take no risks and go to the pretty class 10 and land on it's surface immediately. Soon after, you find out that the planet has an unstable core and has frequent earthquakes, making it almost immpossible for civilized living. You pack up and head towards the class 0 planet and scan under its pockmarked surface to find out if it is has a suitable atmosphere under its surface. After three weeks of intensive scanning, you find out that it has a paradise deep underneath its surface that is kept warm by the upper mantle. Since the colony ship does not have the proper tools, you must reverse engineer some of your equipment to get underneath, not a big step. Once you get there you find that the world is very much alive and you colonize the planet. The planet is is much better than any class 10 planet."
A little story I cooked up, but this does not apply to the colony rush either. In times of war the enemy would have to scan every planet to find you, and when they did it would be hard to get you.(Depending how deep you are) The planets could have alot of underground terrains that could be utilized, such as: lava, toxic, acidic, and water. Thus making it harder to invade and find you. Espionage would also gain from this, as you could spy on the enemy while they are unaware. Planet hopping could be used too, the enemy would have to scan the same planet multiple times to make sure you didn't come back to the same place. Basically, this would benefit nearly all the elements of Galciv2.(Plus give it a little thril of exploration)
Call me crazy, what do you think?