Pros: Engine & trans very reliable A workhorse of a car
Cons: Electrical not great Gas mileage & acceleration not so good
Bought my 1995 Corolla used in 1996, with 20000 miles on it, my 2nd car. It's got 129,000 miles on it, and the engine & transmission are still running strong. This last year I drove around 50,000 miles because of my job.
It's been mechanically quite reliable despite a few accidents that damaged the car. I'm even still using the original brakes. The electrical system is a little weak: the alternator has been replaced at least 4 times (all at a Toyota dealer), and I have gone through a few batteries.
The interior has held out very well despite infrequent cleanings. Tape deck still works but back speakers blew out a long time ago. The car drives smoothly, steers well.
Electrical (alternator replacements)
Acceleration is poor (mine's automatic)
Gas mileage is not great (around 23 mpg)
The biggest gripe of all: back in 1996 I paid around $14,500 for mine, and last year my girlfriend bought a 2002 for $12,000 with only 5000 miles, same features, but accelerates better, gets better gas mileage (close to 30 mpg) with auto trans, and cost $2000 less than my old heap!
Keys to keeping a Corolla running right: regular maintenance at a Toyota dealer using genuine Toyota replacement parts. I even like getting oil changes there, because every time I woudl get my oil changed at Jiffy Lube my car would literally smoke (smoke from under the hood) that would not go away until the next oil change at a Toyota Dealer. Also, be sure and get timing belt replaced every 60,000 miles, if you don't you could kill your car!
I'm a tall guy (6 feet 5 inches) & it's a tight fit to get in and out of the car. But it is comfortable.
Would I buy another Corolla? If I was broke & needed another cheap car, probably. Next car will probably be a Toyota or an American truck with 4 wheel drive.