I was shamed by my sister into replacing my gas guzzling Jeep Grand Cherokee for my new daily commute when I moved in with her. I missed the noise and drama of my old car, but began to appreciate the precise handling and economy, after choosing it for it's safety rating. I tend to have a lead foot, so it helped me enjoy driving with finesse and agility. Keep away from the z rated tires (too noisy) and learn how not to bottom out, and it will serve you well. I really learned to love it.
I call it a "My Size Celica", as in My Size Barbie. I am an average size woman; 5'5 1/2", and it was made for an average to small sized person. Everything is within reach and fits me perfectly, not a huge guy. Hugs the road.
It tends to bottom out - needs a flat playing field.
What can I say. This vehicle is the best I have owned and the best that I have driven. I purchased my 2000 Celica GT with 46000 miles and have done no maintenance other than front pads and rotors, oil changes and transmission gear lubricant. The car now has 96500 miles and the addition of higher quality spark plugs, intake, and a performance muffler. I have to say that I disagree that this car is a better car than others for teens as I have personally reached 137mph with 500rpm to spare before redline. After 4500 rpm this thing is a rocket and with the simple addition of a less restrictive intake it gets better. Hands down one of the best for reliability, performance and comfort.
Handling! This car drives like a go kart. Body roll on the stock vehicle is almost imperceptible, most of what is felt is due largely to the relatively tall side wall of the recommended tire size.
By far my biggest complaint is the fuel door. Most everyone I know has a replacement fuel door as they have an annoying habit of snapping off. This is not a very big issue as the replacement fuel door only costs about 50 dollars but they only come in black, therefore painting is necessary.
I purchased this car used in 2005 with about 52,000 on the ticker and it was in reasonable shape at the time. After some finesse on my part and a new set of wheels and tires (mine were out of round and the tires were wrecked due to bad alignment, it really started to come along. Besides some maintenance like a new fuel filter, belt tensioner and serpentine, and new lift gate shocks; the car is dead nuts reliable. The gas mileage in mine is good but I see only an average of about 25-26 and 28-30 on the highway. With the black leather interior it is HOT HOT in the Texas sun but the A/C does a great job of cooling you down and keeping comfortable. I am happy and will drive into the ground!
I am a big fan of the entire power train. Many don't like the high and narrow power band but I do! It is like two cars: calm and easy to drive during the week and a screamer you want to flog on the weekends (and at the occasional autocross event!).
The A/C vents don't direct air well on the driver. I am 6' and with the wheel where I like it I don't get as much cold air as in many other cars. The overuse of plastic is somewhat annoying but I don't think it is that big a deal because they don't make it anymore!
Bought this car for my 17 year old daughter. 128K and runs like new, no leaks and interior is in top condition. Never owned a toyota but I'd have to say this car is great. Awesome gas mileage. Not too powerful hopefully it will prevent speeding tickets for a teen. An added huge exhaust and cold air intake did bump the horsepower. Great car! Recommend to all parents looking to purchase a first car. I drove the Saturn ION, Cavalier, and Cobalt before purchasing. This one with high mileage beat them in looks, performance, ride and insurance cost. Highly recommend.
Interior is comparable with new cars. No rattles or squeaks! Handling and braking is truly amazing.
The thing burns through the oil. If you don't supplement it, immediately it wears down the seals and eventually will blow your engine. The thing burns through tires like crazy too. My engine has blown..but I'm not opposed to trying again with another. I'll just be extra careful about the oil! Also, don't try putting anyone above or below the age of 8 in the back seat. Carseats don't fit well and neither do legs.
Body is hot, interior is cool, stereo is awesome, love the sunroof, love the hatchback storage.